Does herbal tea expire?

In this article, we will answer the question “Does herbal tea expire?”, can I drink expired herbal tea, what is the shelf-life of herbal tea, how to tell if the herbal tea is bad, and how to store herbal tea. 

Does herbal tea expire?

Yes, herbal tea expires. The best-by date printed on the herbal tea package is not an indicator of safety but quality. The herbal tea does not go bad immediately after the printed date. But it won’t retain the same freshness. 

The degradation of the flavor will be rather quick once the herbal tea is past its expiry date. If the expired tea bags are not salvageable, you can use them as a fertilizer, and for deodorizing new wood furniture, carpets, and bathrooms. More on this in the article below.

Can I drink expired herbal tea? 

Yes, you can drink expired herbal tea as long as it shows no signs of spoilage. Do not keep the brewed herbal tea for more than 5 days in the fridge. 

Bottled herbal tea stays good for quite some time past the printed date. This only applies if the tea is stored correctly. 

Drinking expired tea may not necessarily be unsafe but it won’t taste as good. Look for the following telltale signs of spoilage before you decide to drink expired herbal tea.

Staleness and loss of flavor 

If the expired herbal tea brews a stale or bland cup of tea, it is no longer of use. Extended or incorrect storage destroys the delicate aromatic compounds of herbal tea, leaving it stale and flavorless. 

Possible contamination hazards 

Herbal tea is highly susceptible to mold and bacterial growth and pest infestation. If you see even one dead or live bug in the herbal tea, discard it right away. Moreover, herbal tea contaminated with bacteria or mold can cause food poisoning upon consumption. 

What is the shelf-life of herbal tea? 

Past the best-by date, herbal tea bags should not be kept for more than 24 months. They are best consumed within 6 months past the best-by date. Herbal tea has a shorter shelf-life than other types of tea because it is just dried flowers, herbs, and fruits. 

This makes the herbal tea more susceptible to spoilage. The roasting and fermenting process of other types of tea removes moisture from tea leaves and adds certain compounds that extend its shelf-life. 

The following table shows the estimated shelf-life of different types of tea including herbal tea.

Tea At room temperature In the freezer
Herbal tea bags 8-12 months 1-2 years 
Loose tea 6-12 months 1-2 years 
Black tea bags 12-12 months 2-3 years 
Green tea bags 8-12 months 1-2 years 
Instant iced tea powder 6 months 1 year 

How to tell if the herbal tea has expired? 

Smell: If the tea gives off a sour, or musty smell instead of a sweet and subtle aroma, it has gone bad.

Mold: If you notice mold growing on your tea, even if it is just one tea leaf, throw out the whole tea bulk.

Flavorless: When the tea no longer imparts the flavor and aroma it is supposed to, it needs to be discarded.

Prolonged storage: If your herbal tea has been sitting for more than 3 years in storage, your best bet is to throw it out even if nothing seems wrong with the tea.

How to store herbal tea for a longer shelf-life? 

Store your herbal tea in a cool, dry, and dark place. The quality and safety of the tea are quickly compromised once moisture gets to it.

Heat and air slowly degrade the quality of herbal tea, depriving it of its delicate flavors. Store the herbal tea in an opaque jar or tin to block the air and light. Make sure the container is tightly sealed in between uses. 

Sort the herbal tea bags according to their flavor. Keeping a single type of flavored herbal tea in one box will better preserve its flavor. If you are keeping your herbal tea in a kitchen cabinet so it is handy, make sure it stays away from the stovetop heat. 

It is not recommended to refrigerate or freeze your herbal tea since the harsh environment ruins the delicate flavor of herbal tea. Store the herbal tea away from strong-smelling foods such as garlic or onion.

Other FAQs about Tea that you may be interested in.

Does green tea expire? 

Does green tea burn calories?

Does Earl Grey Tea have caffeine?

Why is my iced tea bitter?



In this article, we answered the question “Does herbal tea expire?”, can I drink expired herbal tea, what is the shelf-life of herbal tea, how to tell if the herbal tea is bad, and how to store herbal tea.