How long does loose leaf tea last: types of tea, storage conditions, expired tea leaves (guide 2023)

If you like tasty tea as much as I do, you’ve probably wondered how long it can last and if it can go bad. I want to tell you right away that your tea is not past its expiration date. I’m talking mostly about loose leaf tea, but I think it’s important to mention tea bags as well.

rising popularity of tea

I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes I can reach into a far-away drawer and find a delicious tea that I forgot about more than a year ago. In this case, you should be happy that it hasn’t gotten worse.

The reason it lives so long is that it has always been there. Processing and maintenance are also looked at later. But over time, they often lose their smell, taste, and even color. Even so, not soon. They all have an estimated life span, but most of the time, they last longer.

How long can you keep loose leaf tea?

You can keep tea leaves for up to two years. But this depends on the type of tea leaf and how long it has been fermented.

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Even though all tea leaves come from the same plant, they are picked and processed in different ways, which can make a big difference in how long they can stay fresh.

How to keep tea leaves fresh and whole for a longer time

Tea should always be kept in a cool, dark place that is out of direct sunlight and in a container that keeps air out. Glass jars aren’t good for storing tea leaves because they let light in and damage the leaves over time. This makes the tea taste different over time.

Make sure there isn’t much air in the bag when you store tea in bags. This will keep the tea fresh and flavorful for a longer time. But the best way to store tea leaves is in containers made of ceramic or tin, which do not let any light in.

reuse loose leaf tea

How to keep tea fresh for longer?

If you want your tea to last longer, you might want to try some of the following:

  1. Keep it somewhere dark and dry.
  2. Keep it away from things that smell strong, like on spice racks.
  3. Keep it in a container or bag that doesn’t let air in so it doesn’t get too much air.
  4. Don’t open the bag too often, and don’t forget to close it when you’re done.
  5. If you open a tea bag, try to use it within a month.
  6. Put it somewhere cool or in the freezer.

Can I drink 5 year old tea?

Tea leaves can last for a long time if they are kept in a place that is cool, dark, and dry. Teas that haven’t been oxidized much or at all can stay fresh for at least 6 months. Teas that have been oxidized a lot can last for years.

loose leaf vs tea bags

Tea gone bad?

Yes, it does indeed run out! Maybe not like expired milk. It won’t hurt your stomach to eat old leaves. Even though it might not be much better than drinking plain boiled water.

If your leaves go bad, it just means that they no longer have any taste, nutrients, or flavor. But each kind of tea has a different rate at which it goes bad.

Another important thing to think about is how to store it. If you don’t store your tea right, it will go bad much faster. Follow the instructions for proper storage if you want it to last longer.

How much fermentation affects how long you live

The process of fermentation is called oxidation by enzymes. This is what happens when tea leaves are left to dry out in the air without heat. When you heat something, it stops oxidizing.

The level of fermentation will get worse the longer they are gone.

The longer tea leaves can be kept, the more fermentation there is. For example, black tea is fermented more than green tea and lasts longer.

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Because highly oxidized teas have less moisture than less fermented teas, they don’t lose their taste and smell as quickly. If you store it right, black tea can stay fresh for more than three years.

Post-fermented teas, like pu-erh, can be kept for a long time. In fact, these teas improve with age even more than wine.

The price of pu-erh also goes up as it gets older. At auctions, some older types of pu-erh sell for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How long can loose leaf tea sit out? Stay fresh? Tea types

Tea bags last longer than leaf tea because the tea used to make them isn’t as fresh to start with. Also, it’s usually not very good. Because it’s already so bad, it can’t get any worse.

Because of this, we will talk about loose leaf tea here. Let’s look at a few different kinds of tea and see how long they stay fresh. Our article on how to tell if tea is bad can help you figure out if your tea is still good.

A cup of black tea: life of tea

Black tea has finished fermenting. Because of this, it lasts longer than many other teas. You can expect black tea to last between 2 and 3 years, but I would drink it for 2 years just to be safe.

Is chamomile tea shelf life?

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After a certain amount of time, chamomile tea loses its smell and natural taste. That’s between 6 and 12 months. This tea can also be drunk even if it has lost its smell. Because there will be a flavor that can lead your taste buds to tea. This tea, on the other hand, has a shelf life of 24 months and won’t go bad any time soon. As long as you don’t put them in a hot or bad environment, they should be able to live.

Does green tea go bad?

Because it doesn’t oxidize, this tea has the shortest shelf life of all types of tea. We can be a little less strict about how we store our oxidized black teas, but we have to be very careful with how we store our green teas.

Many stories say that this is why black tea was made: to make a tea that can last for a long time while being shipped. Back then, most green teas in China were stored for local use, while black teas were sent to faraway places. That’s Europe and the United States.

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The teas that go bad the fastest are Japanese green teas. Did you see how dark green they were? Like senchaa also gyokuro. Also, a smell that is very fresh and very herbal? This is one of the clearest ways to tell if they are still fresh. And a lot of responsibility comes with being so new.

If you keep Japanese green tea in the fridge before opening it, it will last longer. But once it’s been opened, it should be kept in a dark, dry, and, if possible, cool place.

We suggest that you drink Japanese tea for a year. If you put them in the fridge before you open them, you can add another 6 months to their shelf life. You’ll notice right away that it’s not as fresh as it was, so drink it soon after you open it.

If your large-leaf Japanese tea has gone bad, it won’t smell like fresh herbs and the leaves will be slightly dull and lose their bright green color. When brewed, it will be a dark brown color.

Oolong tea shelf life

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Oolong tea has been fermented in part. Fermentation can be anywhere from a few percent to almost 100 percent. As you might expect, this makes the shelf life very different.

Lightly oxidized oolong tea, like Iron Goddess of Mercy tea, can last as long as green or white tea. It might take a little longer, but that’s not a big deal.

Heavy-oxidized oolong teas can last a year or two if they are stored correctly.

White tea: life of tea

One of the most popular teas is white tea, which is made from the tea plant’s youngest buds. Also, it is not heated to stop oxidation. Instead, it is dried in the sun. This is what makes white tea different from green tea.

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Because of this, it doesn’t stay good for very long. You can keep it for a year and it will still taste pretty good. But to get the most out of it, you should drink it within 6 months.

Does loose leaf tea go bad?

Next are light oolongs, which are also pretty fresh even though they have been oxidized. Within 2 years, please drink light oolongs.

Dark oolongs and black teas both have a shelf life of about three years, after which their flavor and aroma start to change. If you can smell black tea but it’s not very strong, it’s probably gone bad. When brewed, it won’t taste bright amber, but dull and gray. Bitter and bland is how it tastes.

How to brew loose leaf tea

Most aged oolongs will last a long time. The shelf life of oolong will also depend on how it was aged. Don’t be afraid to keep it to yourself. Just try it every so often to see how the taste changes. Is it getting easier and better, or is it getting worse?

“Tea of one year, medicine of three years, and treasure of seven years,” says a Chinese proverb.

Herbal tea expire?

No, herbal tea won’t go bad if it’s kept in a dark, dry place away from mold and water. But if you drink the tea after the date on the package, it won’t be as strong.

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Does tea that comes in a bottle go bad?

You’ll be glad to hear that tea in a bottle works the same as any other tea. Make sure they are kept at the right temperature, which is room temperature in this case. out of the way of the sun and heat. If they are closed and kept well, they can last for 18 to 24 months. But if you have put them in a bottle or opened the seal, you will need to eat them soon.

Since bottles with open caps are more likely to get broken than ones with closed caps. So make sure you store your bottled teas well so they last longer. But for any tea, the only things that change over time are the smell, taste, and color. This is not the same thing as judging tea.

Read also information on other types of tea:

Storage method

How you store your tea affects how long it lasts, how it tastes, and how fresh it is. Storage conditions: tea should be kept in a dark, dry place, like a pantry or cupboard.

You should also put loose tea or tea bags in an airtight container. This will keep extra moisture out. Freshness is also hurt by constant air movement.

Stored properly: some of the most common ways to store tea are in an airtight container with two lids, in silicone that doesn’t smell, and in Ziploc bags.

Tea organizer header

Small store tea bags are often used to hold tea bags, but they do not protect them from the environment. This is why tea bags should be stored the same way loose tea is.

Tea should be kept as dry as possible when it’s being stored properly. This keeps the natural flavor of the food.

Keep in mind, though, that even if you store tea well, the level of fermentation still affects how long it will last.


What to do with expired tea?

Even though you can’t drink the leaves, that doesn’t mean you should throw them away. There is still a use for old tea! Never judge if it doesn’t give that flavor. Over time, the smell will go away. So give it a try. If it tastes good, your tea is not dead yet. But if it smells bad but doesn’t taste good, it’s best to say goodbye.
Use expired tea to get rid of smells. Useful in the kitchen, bathroom, refrigerator, or storage area.
Use the leaves to feed the plants in your garden. Even dead leaves still have some nutrients that our plants can use.
Having trouble with old tea? If you buy a lot of pu-erh, you can drink it right away or let it age.

How long does tea last?

reuse loose leaf tea

1. The leaves have no smell.
2. It doesn’t taste good.
3. The leaves are no longer a bright color. This means that darker teas will be gray and green teas will be yellow.
4. The color of the infusion is neither bright nor dark.

Can tea that has gone bad make you sick?

No, drinking old tea won’t get you sick. Tea is safe to drink as long as it is stored and brewed correctly.
But it probably won’t be as good or have the same properties as fresh tea. The taste will get worse, and some of the nutrients will be lost, making it less healthy.

Does tea have bacteria in it?

Yes, bacteria can grow in tea that has been brewed for a long time. This is especially true if you sweeten your tea with sugar or another sweetener.
If tea leaves aren’t stored right, bacteria can also grow on them. But this doesn’t happen very often. I have kept some teas for years, and none of them have ever grown bacteria that I could see.
Keep in mind that bacteria are not caused by cloudy tea. This has to do with the way the compounds in the tea react when they get cold. Our article about why tea gets cloudy goes into more detail about this.

Should tea bags be stored in the fridge?

Loose Tea vs Tea Bags 1

No, I do not put tea bags in the fridge. Too much moisture can cause the food to lose its flavor and smell too soon. Tea that has already been brewed can be kept in the fridge for up to five days if it has not been sweetened.
Should tea be kept in the fridge? If you drink it soon after it’s made. But bacteria can grow if you leave it out for more than 8 hours, so you should put it in the fridge.

Can you drink tea that has been sitting out overnight?

When tea is brewed for a long time, bacteria called tea polyphenols can start to grow in it.
Even though everything seems fine, I wouldn’t drink it. Why take a chance? Make another one.

How long will brewed tea stay good in the fridge?

If you make too much tea by accident and don’t want to waste it, try putting it in the fridge. Good news: this could be a way to keep tea fresh for 2–5 days.
One thing you should remember, though, is that you need to store your brewed tea in a container that keeps air out.
This will help keep your tea from smelling like other foods in your fridge and going bad.

How long does brewed loose leaf tea last? At room temperature? Storage time

If you leave tea out at room temperature for more than 8 hours after making it, it will no longer be safe to drink. Because by then, bacteria can grow in your drink and make you sick.

Should air be kept out of tea?

Yes, they should be kept in airtight containers because tea picks up moisture and smells easily from its surroundings.

How can you tell if tea is still good?

When you look at fresh tea, it has a bright color. When it is brewed, it smells very nice, and has a natural aroma.

Helena Tasty

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