How long are tea bags good?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long are tea bags good” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of tea bags that enable them to be used for a long duration. Moreover, we are going to highlight what are the signs of bad tea bags and how we can store them to maintain their quality.

How long are tea bags good?

The tea bags can be good for years if they are maintained at cold places having less light, air, and moisture content as these may hinder the microbial growth in tea bags and prevent flavor loss from the leaves.

On average, the best by or expiration date is given by companies may vary from about 2-4 years but still, they can be used after those dates if stored appropriately.

Lasting of tea bags:

Teabags can last for up to 2 years past their best by or expiration date when they are stored in an air-tight container at an appropriate place, that is a cool and dark place. With time, the tee bags become dry and the leaves lose their flavors. But still, they can be used if not exposed to moisture or bugs that cause the spoilage of leaves inside the bags.

The best by date is the period until when the tea can provide a maximum of its flavors when steeped in water and the expiration date is the time after which you can say that the product becomes completely useless. But this is not the case with tea bags.

The tea bags can be used for many years after the best by or expiration date. Moreover, the best-by or expiration date may vary from one type of tea to the other and from tea made by one company to that made by others.

Teabags usually do not spoil or rot completely after the expiration date. There is only a slight change in the flavor of the leaves. This alteration in taste may affect the consumption or preference to some extent but it does not mean that you cannot use those leaves after that. You can use the tea bags for 5-6 years if they are stored in appropriate conditions without the risks of contamination.

The tea leaves can be degraded and the flavors can be lost with time as with time, the artificial flavorings, fruity and floral notes disappear from the leaves of tea.

Tips to handle tea bags for a longer duration:

Storage conditions may impact this degradation or flavor loss as freshness and taste of tea leaves are possible to be maintained. Some of the important factors need to be considered while storing the tea bags to get maximum benefits for a longer duration.

The tea bags should be kept at a lower temperature as the storage at cold places can maintain the freshness of leaves insides the tea bags and the loss of flavors can also be prevented as the flavors are lost along with the moisture content of the leaves when placed in tough or hot places.


Sunlight, particularly ultraviolet rays, spoils the tea leaves through their degradation. Therefore, the tea leaves should be placed in a dark area.


Moisture in the surroundings or humidity is an important factor for the growth of microorganisms. The decreased humidity prevents the growth and survival of the bacteria on tea leaves. You can keep your tea bags safe from any kind of small living entity by storing them at a relative humidity between 50% and 60%.


The oxygen in the air is responsible for the occurrence of the oxidation process in a lot of food products. The tea leaves inside the tea bags can also be oxidized when placed in a well-aerated environment. Therefore, one should store or place the tea bags in an airtight jar or container.

Signs of spoiled or bad tea bags:

Several factors can be counted to identify the freshness or quality of the tea bags. This may help you to use the old tea bags after their expiration dates without worrying much about safety and quality concerns.

Check whether the cover of the tea bags is clean or has some unpleasant spot on it because molds if present inside the tea bags also grow or rot the outer covering too. You can also observe the tea bags for the presence of bugs that have just torn out the tea bags and see if there is any bug.

Bring the tea bags close to your nose and smell them. If you smell any pungent and unpleasant smell, the tea bags might have gone bad. You can also taste the leaves inside the tea bags if you are confused in identifying the old or bad tea bags because the spoiled tea bags will have a sour taste. If you find any of the above signs, discard the tea bags.

You can read about the top 5 teas for health here.

Uses of old tea bags:

If you don’t like to use the tea bags after their expiration date for drinking, you can still use them for a lot of other purposes. But still, make sure that the tea bags should not show any signs of bad tea bags when used for other purposes too.

You can use the tea inside the tea bags to compost your soil as the tea can break down the materials in the soil faster and make it enriched. It can also act as a natural fertilizer for which you just need to sprinkle the contents inside tea bags or the cooled cooked tea in your garden.

Tea can also provide soothing effects on burns and scratches. The hair when washed with tea prevents the problems of the itchy and irritated scalp. The tea can also act as a smell cutter and you can use them to reduce the smell by placing it in any smelly area or in shoes too.

Further, the tea has the best antibacterial properties and can be used as a herbal mouthwash to keep the mouth clean and free of microorganisms.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long are tea bags good” with an in-depth analysis of the duration for which the tea bags can be good enough to be consumed. Moreover, we discussed what are the signs of bad tea bags and how we can store them to maintain their quality.


Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.