Since tea is scientifically known to reduce stress, people often consume it at the end of a long and hard day. Since tea is not readily available like coffee (coffee machines), people prefer using tea bags. However, those old tea bags are often forgotten when one is introduced to a new flavor or brand.
A couple of tea bags that get lost in your pantry for months only to rematerialize past their use-by date can make you wonder – Do Tea Bags Go Bad?
If you are unsure whether you can use those old and expired tea bags, this post is for you. Below you will learn some of the essential basics of shelf-life, storage requirements, and spoilage signs of teabags.
What is the Shelf-Life of Tea Bags?
The Tea Bags package comes with a use-by date printed on the label. The date only tells how long the tea leaves can sustain their freshness and peak quality. The printed use-by date has nothing to do with safety.
The leaves in the Tea Bags never go bad until it is exposed to water. But some types of tea leaves degrade with time. So, the printed use-by date on the package is more of an indicator that tells how long it sustains peak quality and freshness. But, it is safe to use the Tea Bags past their use-by date.
But, it is impossible to mention how long it lasts past its use-by date. But, it is still safe and tastes good after the use-by date. The general thumb rule is that the more processed tea leaves are, the better their sustains quality. The black tea lasts longer and sustains its quality and flavor for years past its use-by date.
In a nutshell, both Tea Bags and leaves sustain peak quality for up to a year past the use-by date.
|Unopened and Opened Tea Bags||Use-By Date Plus Six Months to One Year|
|Unopened and Opened Tea Leaves||Use-By Date Plus Six Months to One year|
These periods are the estimates for the best quality online as Tea Bags remain safe to be sued indefinitely.
What are the Spoilage Signs of Tea Bags?
Even with proper storage conditions, the Tea Bags can go bad. So, it would help if you learned the spoilage signs. It will help you know when your Tea Bags have gone rancid and are not edible. Here are some of the spoilage signs for you to consider.
Freshly packed Tea Bags have a distinctive and refreshing smell. You need to open the container and smell it to identify the quality of the Tea Bags. If the aroma is refreshing and pleasant, they are still edible.
But, if the Tea Bags’ aroma has turned unpleasant and does not give a distinctive smell after brewing, the leaves have gone bad, and it is time to discard the bags.
Tea Bags and leaves degrade in quality and flavor with time. The flavor will turn unpleasant after brewing, indicating that the Tea Bags have gone bad. The taste will turn stale, which means the Tea Bags have gone off.
The Color Change
If you pay close attention, you will notice a color change in the brewed tea. The green tea bags will turn yellow, and the dark teas will be grey. Plus, the brewed tea will not appear vibrant as before.
Pest and Mold Growth
The old container of Tea Bags is prone to pantry pests, and after a prolonged period of storage, you will see pantry pests inside the container. If this is the case with your Tea Bags, discard them immediately.
Mold growth is also common in old Tea Bags. If you see moldy Tea Bags with off aroma, discard the Tea Bags as they are no longer safe and edible.
What Happens When You Use Spoiled Tea Bags?
Expired, spoiled, or loose tea leaves are completely safe to use, provided that it is properly stored. But, you may experience flavor and taste changes with time. They will turn very bland after the printed use-by date.
The spoiled Tea Bags won’t have much flavor and aroma like before, but they won’t harm or make you sick until it is stored properly. Besides, it must not be exposed to humidity or moisture.
Besides the flavor and taste change, you won’t experience any negative effects on your health after consuming brewed tea made from spoiled or expired Tea Bags.
Can You Freeze Tea Bags? Refrigerated Vs. Shelf-Stable
Tea Bags, loose tea, and brewed tea can be frozen, especially if you want to prolong their shelf-life. Freezing is the acceptable way to sustain the freshness and quality of the Tea Bags, provided that it is frozen properly.
Tea Bags and loose tea leaves have very minimal water content and won’t disrupt the freezing process. But, you must freeze the Tea Bags in an airtight container.
Freezing the Tea Bags for a prolonged period can ruin them. The Tea Bags will degrade with time, and their flavor and taste will fade away. But, you can avoid this from happening by freezing the Tea Bags in an airtight container to prevent moisture and air from leaking in.
Besides, you must not refreeze the opened container of Tea Bags because of the condensation.
The good news is that you can extend the shelf-life of loose tea and Tea Bags by storing them in a fridge. But, you have to store it in an airtight container to prolong its shelf-life for three to four months and even a year.
Since there is a high chance of condensation and moisture exposure, you must store it in an airtight container. The moisture, humidity, and condensation accelerate the degradation process. Besides, the temperature variation from being taken out and put back in a fridge is not good for the Tea Bags.
So, ensure to store it in an airtight container to prevent condensation and avoid taking it out and putting it back in the fridge frequently. Tea Bags are also stored in a fridge to trap unwanted odors and smells from the fridge. If this is the case, you can store it un-sealed anywhere on the shelves of a fridge.
As long as the seal of the Tea Bags container has not been broken, it is safe to store it in your pantry outside a fridge. You need to store them in a bowl in cool, dark, and dry spots. They will remain safe.
You need to store the Tea Bags in an original or plastic airtight container to preserve their freshness and quality longer when stored in the kitchen pantry. Properly stored Tea Bags can sustain their quality and freshness for up to 24 months in the pantry without refrigeration.
What are the Best Ways to Store Tea Bags?
Fortunately, Tea Bags don’t demand lots of maintenance and storage requirements to stay in peak quality for a long time. There are very few storage requirements to keep them fresh and in peak quality for a long time.
Store in Spots Away from Water and Moisture
Since water and humidity are the biggest risks for Tea Bags, they must be stored in spots away from water and moisture. You need to find a place in your pantry away from water, heat sources, light, and moisture.
The cool, dry, and dark places of your kitchen cabinet or pantry are the best spots for storing the Tea Bags. It will help sustain its freshness and quality for a long time.
Store in Sealed Bags
You must store the Tea Bags in sealed, airtight containers. The sealed, airtight containers will prevent moisture and water from damaging the Tea Bags’ dried tea leaves.
The sealed airtight container also ensures that the Tea Bags remain fresh and not exposed to humidity, air, and moisture.
Alternatives to Tea Bags if They Have Gone Bad
If the tea bags in your kitchen pantry have gone bad, you can still enjoy a nice simmering cup of tea with loose tea leaves and the following alternatives:
- Tea ball
- Stick infuser
- Reusable tea bags
- Basket infuser
Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens When Tea Bags are Left Outside for an Extended Period?
Tea Bags left outside a fridge for an extended period may become less effective and potent. If the Tea Bags are not used within 24 months, the therapeutic effects and potency will reduce because the concentration weakens with time, especially when left outside.
The broken pieces of tea leaves in the Tea Bags are called fanning, and it degrades quickly when left outside for an extended period.
How Long Tea Bags Remain Good Past Use-By Date?
Tea Bags remain good and edible for up to 24 months past their use-by date. After 24 months, the Tea Bags lose their flavor and distinctive taste. If you are using Tea Bags for therapeutic properties, it is best to use them within 24 months because, after this period, they won’t deliver the therapeutic effects. After all, the concentration weakens after two years.
Is It Safe to Use Expired Tea Bags?
Yes, you can brew tea out of expired Tea Bags as it is not dangerous and won’t make you sick. However, it won’t give you the distinctive taste and flavor like before, but it will not prevent you from using the expired Tea Bags, provided that it is stored properly.
The Bottom Line
You are aware by now that Tea Bags won’t go bad or expire because it lasts indefinitely. But, for best taste and aromas, it is suggested to use the Tea Bags within 24 months. Besides, it must be stored properly in an airtight container to prevent moisture and humidity from spoiling the Tea Bags’ fanning.
The taste and flavor may be bland with time, but it will not prevent you from using the Tea Bags past their use-by date.
Gina P. Shudnow is the brain behind all our scientific research. She is a Registered Dietitian who has been in the field for over ten years. Her nutrition tips have helped several people overcome health issues in the past. She strives to make everybody healthier without compromising on their food diet.