Does brewed tea go bad?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Does brewed tea go bad?” and will discuss some tips to make brewed tea last longer.

Does brewed tea go bad?

Yes, brewed tea does go bad. When brewed tea isn’t kept in an airtight container, it will go bad. Keep it out of direct sunlight and in a very cold environment (like a refrigerator). Brewed tea may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. It may be used for up to eight hours on the counter.

You can’t leave tea in the fridge longer than 8 hours because of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 1996 regulation. This document discusses the safety of brewed tea and shows that pathogenic microorganisms can survive in brewed tea, such as fecal coliforms, indicating failure in food handling or sanitation, creating a potentially hazardous condition. This theoretical risk of disease transmission from brewed tea would be minimized if iced tea is brewed at appropriate temperature in a clean urn and stored for no longer than 8 hours. Your tea will be, according to this document, alright if you leave it for eight hours.

If the brewed tea is bad, what does it mean?

Green tea beverage, a kind of low acid beverage with many nutrients, is susceptible to microbial contamination. And, because hot water infusion of tea is insufficient to totally destroy the microorganisms present, tea cannot be stored for long periods, unless it goes through an additional sterilizing procedure, such as high pressure processing or pulsed-electric-field treatment (1).

We need to talk about this as well. It’s possible that your tea could be OK if you mean that the flavor is a little wrong, but it’s not a harmful concoction:

·         Uncovered, at room temperature, on the counter for eight hours before serving. It all comes down to the kind of tea you’re drinking since certain tastes might swiftly fade away.

·         Refrigerated for 24 hours, in an airtight container, with no extra sugar or fruits.

·         If by moldy you mean that the tea is no longer safe to drink, then it will last longer than that. This means that tea is stored in the fridge and covered and no sugar or fruits have been added, which may be quite safe for up to 72 hours.

·         Because of the odors and germs already in the fridge, food that’s been left uncovered in the fridge won’t survive more than 72 hours before spoiling.

Brew your tea as usual, and then store it as follows:

·         A container made of glass with a tight-fitting cover. The tea will ferment quicker if sugar or fruits are added, either during or after brewing.

·         Make sure you know that if you do add fruits or sugar to your tea, it should not be stored in the fridge longer than 24 hours.

Although tea beverages are not microbiologically safe when stored for longer periods, their antioxidant capacities do not not change significantly after 15 days, when stored in air-tight containers and in the absence of light, even at room temperatures. A study showed that after 8 weeks in the dark the antioxidant capacity of hot brewed black tea decreased only 5% meanwhile in the light it was observed respective reductions of 16 and 22% after 4 and 8 weeks of storage (2).

Cold vs. hot brew tea

Brewing tea hot vs cold has a distinct flavor and texture. Cold brew tea is produced by direct soaking in cold or low-temperature water, while still providing all the advantages and convenience of traditional tea. The temperature of the water has a significant role in how well the tea is extracted from the leaves.

Studies reported that cold brewing tea at 4 °C for 24 h resulted in lighter, higher sensory-rated tea infusions with less astringent and bitter taste compared with hot tea infusions. Liu et al. However, a major problem arises during the processing of cold brew tea. cold brewed tea may have problems with microorganisms such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli, which are pathogenic microorganisms, during long-term preparation and storage. A study showed that cold brewed tea presented a microbial count of 2.9 log10 CFU/ mL and this may increase with increasing storage (3).

You may ensure that your tea lasts a long time by making it as frequently as possible in the refrigerator. It will keep even if you brew it hot. There will, however, be almost a full day’s difference in length.

Keep your tea in the fridge to keep it fresher for a longer time

Keeping your tea in the refrigerator will keep it fresher for longer, as I said before. When exposed to light and heat, tea’s vitamins and tastes change. They begin to degrade or lose their effectiveness.

Your brewed tea (and your meals) will be affected by the refrigerator’s chilly temperature in two ways:

·         Bacterial growth is less likely since it normally needs a temperature of at least 20 C/68 F for it to occur. It will simply slow down, but not die, in a chilly climate. In your refrigerator, you’re not in the Antarctic.

·         Adding heat to your tea might alter the taste and nutritional content. When exposed to heat, they become fragile and begin to destroy their chemical connections. As a result, they’ll last longer if they’re kept in a cool environment. They will eventually decompose, although at a considerably slower pace.

A study showed that the amount of flavanols in green tea, the chemical compounds responsible for the antioxidant effect of green tea, drastically decreases during storage at 50°C, as well as the notes for sensorial evaluation of panelists (4).

It’s possible to claim that your fridge serves as a kind of timer for your food and beverages. It’s a little bit like that. If you leave your stew out on the counter overnight, it will go bad, but if you put it in the fridge, it will be alright.

Although cold does decrease bacteria and chemical degradation, it does so only to a certain extent. Make sure your fridge temperature is below 5 C/41 F, since certain germs may develop at that temperature.

Bacterial proliferation is just one factor to consider when it comes to food’s taste. Some tastes, such as green tea, become more flavorful when served cold, but lose their potency if kept out in the open for an extended period.

Not covering your tea is not a good idea

It’s also a good idea to check whether or not you’ve covered your tea. Regardless of where you keep your tea, you should always keep it covered. No matter how soon you plan to consume it. In addition to the obvious bugs, stray dust, or even stray hairs, three additional things might spoil your cup of tea.

To begin with, the microorganisms we just explained may sour your tea. Even though it doesn’t taste awful at first, your freshly brewed warm jasmine tea might get polluted if you keep it out in the open. Bacteria spread via the air, so even if you store it in a different room, it might still be infected.

When it comes to protecting your teapot from condensation, the material you pick to cover it matters. To put it another way, the water droplets that develop beneath your cover are going to carry with them all of the germs they can concoct.

When using a protective cover, ensure it is well cleaned and sterilized. For the second reason, food’s taste and nutritional value might deteriorate because some of it evaporates into the air, and some of it reacts with the air it is exposed to. To put it another way:

In the summer, if you leave your tea on the counter all day, it will be almost unusable, particularly if it’s hot outside. It all comes down to personal preference. If I’m extremely sensitive, it’s because I have a very sensitive nose and taste buds. In my opinion, that’s the point at which the tea becomes too strong for me to drink

The phenolic compounds (flavonols) of green tea, which have strong antioxidant properties, are very unstable to oxygen. During the oxidation process, flavanols lose one hydrogen radical and form a semiquinone radical with an unpaired electron on the oxygen atom. The oxidation process is accelerated by heat and by the exposure of the tea to oxygen (3).

The tea will go bad more quickly if it is laced with sugar or fruit.

If you don’t add sugars or fruits to your tea, does it imply you should never drink it? In the end, it’s a question of personal preference and chemistry. When the mood strikes, I like to sweeten with sugar and/or fruits. It’s only that my tea must be consumed immediately. The problem with sugar is that it degrades the tea’s nutrients much more quickly.

Since they didn’t have much time to interact, the harm is minimal if you prepare a cup of tea right now, add sugar, and consume it straight away.

Unlike cane sugar, fruits contain sugars that will interact with the tea. It all depends on what sort of fruits you choose to include in your smoothie. There is a difference in sweetness between berries and other fruits such as mangoes and pineapples. Fruits are compatible with certain teas, but not all.

Because of their tartness and sugary nature, fruits will break down the tea faster. Fruits and sugar aren’t an issue if you’re preparing a large pitcher of tea for a party and plan to serve it within a few hours after brewing.

Ingredients such as sweeteners and flavorings or fruit juices in the tea may be added sources of bacteria, yeasts and molds. And, although the presence of sugar may inhibit some strains of bacteria due to increase in the total solids that creates an osmotic effect (a high concentration of the total solids limits some microorganisms), it can favor yeasts to survive and grow (4).

Allowing the tea bags too steep for more than a day can greatly change the flavor. The oils in the rind of citrus fruits are unique in this sense since they will provide a pleasant flavor to the tea independent of the addition of sugar or fruits.

You should never leave any kind of fruit in your tea for longer than 24 hours, though.

Other FAQs about Tea that you may be interested in.

How much does a gallon of tea weigh?

What is the difference between boba and bubble tea?

What is the best way to make tea with tea bags?

How Long Is Tea Good For?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Does brewed tea go bad?” and discussed some tips to make brewed tea last longer.


  1. Song, YongCheng, et al. “Effect of combined treatments of ultrasound and high hydrostatic pressure processing on the physicochemical properties, microbial quality and shelf‐life of cold brew tea.” International Journal of Food Science & Technology 56.11 (2021): 5977-5988.
  2. Coelho, Kristtiann Yuri, et al. Stability of total phenolic and antioxidant capacity in ready-to-drink black and green tea formulations. Res Soc Develop, 2020, 9, e219108160-e219108160.
  3. Wang, Li-Fei, Dong-Man Kim, and Chang Y. Lee. Effects of heat processing and storage on flavanols and sensory qualities of green tea beverage. J agric food chem, 2000, 48, 4227-4232.  
  4. Lawlor, Kathleen A., et al. Microbiological spoilage of beverages. Compendium of the microbiological spoilage of foods and beverages. Springer, New York, NY, 2009. 245-284.