Does Tea go bad?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “Does tea go bad?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how long does tea last and how to tell if tea has gone bad. Moreover, we will also discuss the type of containers that you should use to maintain the quality of your tea. 

Can Tea go bad?

Yes, tea can go bad – be it in raw form or prepared. 

Like all foods and beverages, proper hygiene and food safety methods prevent food-borne illness. If stored in a humid environment or where it’s exposed to moisture, mold becomes a big problem.

Another important factor to consider is the tea itself, whether it is flavoured with other botanicals, oils and additives. Herbal tea infused with fruit juice could be more likely to spoil or go rancid sooner as it has sugars and real food properties infused into the tea.

While tea does always have an expiration date, it is there more as a suggestion when to use the

tea in order to get maximum flavour. If consumed after the shelf-life date, nothing bad will happen, but once it is prepared, your tea might not have any (or may have very minimal) flavour. 

When deciding what kind of tea you’re in the mood for, there is a lot to think about. From

choosing a flavour to pick tea bags or tea leaves, the simple drink is actually extremely versatile. But no matter how you like it, one commonality among people who drink tea is that they usually have it in their cabinets for a long time, which raises the question: does tea go bad?

Storing Tea

Tea should be stored in a dry place. Tea should be stored away room light, in an airtight container as tea retains its flavour better when it’s not exposed to lots of fresh air. If you will use all that tea within a few weeks, it probably won’t make a difference at all. If the container you are using is a glass one (or any other that lets light through), put it into a closed cupboard or any other place where it’s away from the light.

The Best Containers for Storing Tea are as follows:

  • Stainless steel tins are best for blocking light and durability.
  • Dark-coloured glass jars are easy to clean, block the light and don’t absorb odours.

The Worst Containers for Tea Storage are as follows:

  • Plastic as chemicals can leach into the tea, it absorbs odours and it’s not as airtight as tin or glass.
  • Paper bags or wooden boxes  which absorb odours, unless the tea is packaged in foil
  • Containers with leaks or holes let in air and increase oxidation or the risk of mould.

Other FAQs about Tea which you may be interested in.

Does tea contain nicotine?

How long does tea last?

In relation to tea that’s past its best by date, here’s a general rule of thumb for guidance.

Before brewing, packaged tea bags and loose-leaf tea lasts for 6 to 12 months in the pantry and 1 to 2 years in the freezer. After brewing, all types of tea last for 3 to5 days in the fridge and 6 to 8 months in the freezer.

Whether you’re storing your unprepared or brewed tea in the pantry, fridge or freezer, always

store it in an airtight container to keep out the light, moisture and other contaminants. The longevity depends not only on storage but also on the packaging materials. Stored properly at room temperature, tea bags can retain their flavour for up to 2 years, depending on the quality and packaging.

If you do decide to store your tea in the fridge or freezer, keep in mind that condensation can occur, so you might want to use a vacuum-sealed bag or packaging system to reduce the possibility of spoilage and water getting into the tea.

How to tell if tea is bad?

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, tea can go bad or stale, but only if stored in a humid environment. If it was, it would be moldy. If you’re not sure if water has gotten its way to the tea, look for any signs of mold. If water was there, there would be mold. If it is mold free, the tea is most likely fine. Just brew a cup and taste it!

Although not a perfect test, your senses are usually the most reliable instruments to tell if your tea has gone bad. Tea has gone bad only means that the natural oils in the leaves have evaporated over time, making the leaves far less flavorful. Due to the loss of natural oils, the pleasant aroma of tea leaves will be gone.


In nutshell, tea can go bad, but only in certain circumstances. If kept in a dry place, it won’t go bad. At worst bad tea will lose some of its flavour and taste a bit stale. Drinking that tea won’t kill or even make you sick, you’ll simply dislike it and probably choose to discard it. But if the tea is moldy, it can cause food-borne illness.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “Does tea go bad?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how long does tea last and how to tell if tea has gone bad. Moreover, we have also discussed the type of containers that you should use to maintain the quality of your tea. 



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.