Do tea bags go bad?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Do tea bags go bad?”, discuss how to tell if tea bags are gone bad, and how long tea bags last after their best-by dates.

Do tea bags go bad?

Yes. Teabags do go bad but this does not happen commonly. Because the commercially produced tea bags are individually packed, helping you to keep your tea bags sterile and safe from their packing to your way home.

Once the tea bags are in your possession, it solely depends on your way to store them to protect them from going bad. If you fail to store them properly, chances are there that they get moldy or get stale over time.

Why tea bags go bad?

Teabags, being individually packed in a firm packing, don’t go bad by themselves. It is your way of storing them that can be the reason for them to go bad. Like if you have stored them in a ziplock bag in your kitchen, it might be possible that they get moist, wet, sat out in the sun if they are directly exposed to heat or light, and molds will be formed in them due to the moisture and other favorable conditions.

How do you know when teabags go bad?

Rather stored properly, teabags can go bad due to certain reasons. Following are the things that you should consider if you want to know either teabag have gone bad or not:

  • Inspect the box to ensure it has not passed the best-by date

If you have not opened the box of teabags, carefully inspect that it has not passed the best-by date because many teas lose their specific aroma and taste when the best-by date is long gone.

  • Check the box if it is wet or dry

If you have not opened the box of tea bags for a long time, and it has gotten wet or damp due to any reason, don’t consume the teabags from such a box. Further, inspect the tea bags for any smell or mold formation. In any case, discard the tea bags, they are no more good to be used.

  • Check if the teabag is broken

Make sure that the teabag is not broken or compromised in any way. If there is any hole in the teabag, discard the teabag immediately.

  • Check if the teabag is having any sort of bugs

Carefully inspect if there is any bug present either inside or outside the teabag. Certain bugs can go inside the teabag packing without even creating a hole in the packing. In any case, discard that teabag along with all other teabags that were stored with it in the same box.

  • Inspect if the original smell of tea is gone

The teabag should smell like the original tea bag that you purchased. Any deviation from the original smell can make you think twice before using that teabag. It will be better for you to discard teabags that are giving a tangy or moldy smell.

  • Inspect if tea’s taste does not quite hit the spot

If the brewed tea from the teabag does not give you the original taste, then there is no point in brewing an unpalatable cup of tea. This happens when the teabags have been stored for a long period and the flavor or aroma from them has been evaporated.

  • Check if there is any mold on the teabag

Carefully check if there is any mold present inside or on the teabag. For this hold the teabag up to a light or a bright window, and see for the presence of a mold or mildew.

Other FAQs about Tea which you may be interested in.

Do tea bags get old?

How long can you keep the tea bags?

Surprisingly, the best-by date is not the actual date to discard the teabags. Certain high-quality tea bags can be used for up to 6 months- 2 years post best-by date. Here is a brief description of how long you can keep the different tea bags once they are expired:

Sr.#                 Teabags                      Time for their storage
        In cupboard      In freezer
1.Black tea bags1-2 year2-3 years
2.Green tea bags8-12 months1-2 years
3.Herbal tea bags8-12 months 1-2 years 
4.Instant iced tea powder6 months1 year

Can expired tea make you sick?

As discussed earlier, teabags don’t expire even after their best-by date, so it is important to know that you will not get sick after consuming expired tea. But if you are very conscious regarding your health, you can follow these tips to overcome the fear of getting sick:

  • To kill any potential bacteria, brew your tea at 175 Fahrenheit for at least 5 minutes.
  • Try to avoid storing brewed tea beyond 8 hours.
  • Place the brewed tea in the refrigerator, unless it is consumed immediately.
  • Avoid sun-brewing or simply hot tap water to make tea, because it will not kill the potential bacteria if they are present.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do tea bags go bad?”, discussed how to tell if tea bags are gone bad, and how long tea bags last after their best-by dates.