Sometimes, we stock up on a lot of tea that we don’t immediately brew and drink them immediately. But how long can we keep tea before it goes bad?
How long does tea last? Does tea have an expiration? Is it safe to drink tea that has been stored for so long?
Well, the good news is that if it’s properly stored away from air, light, and moisture, then tea will never spoil. However, it will gradually lose its flavor over time.
A lot of teas are seasonal, and therefore picked during a specific growing season each year. The further they are off plucking date, the less fresh they become.
Green and white teas depend on their essential oil content for flavor and will fade the fastest, generally within six months to a year.
Black teas however rely on complex polyphenols for flavor, which atrophy at a much slower rate. In fact, it can still be good after a least year, sometimes two, three or more.
As a general rule, the larger the leaf and more tightly rolled the tea (e.g. pearls, oolongs), the longer it will stay fresh. But smaller and broken leaf teas simply allow more of the leaf to contact the air and therefore grow stale faster.
Inspect your tea before brewing. If you see molds, or anything that shouldn’t be there, then it’s probably safer to just throw it away. Just remember, proper storage is key to having your tea last long and stay fresh.