No afternoon is complete without a cup of tea, but have you ever wondered what happens when tea bags go bad? In fact, how do you know when teabags expire?
In this guide, we will dig deep and explain how and when tea bags go bad, as well as expert tips to keep them fresh for longer.
Can Tea Bags Go Bad
If you’re a tea connoisseur, it’s likely that you will have a collection of loose-leaf tea and perhaps some tea bags that are replenished each month.
However, what if you leave your tea bags stored in a cupboard for years? Can tea bags go bad?
Although it can be uncommon, and while tea bags can last for a long time, they can eventually go bad, stale, or moldy.
It also depends on how they are stored in the first place because once stored correctly, in an air-tight container, will prevent them from expiring sooner.
Does Tea Expire
When you buy tea, the packaging will display the best before date, which is more about the quality rather than the safety.
As explained in our storage guide, food producers and manufacturers are legally obliged to include their use by and best before labels on their products, and it also tested in various ways to help them determine these dates.
Therefore, the best before date will suggest when the quality of the tea will begin to degrade.
As a result, while tea doesn’t exactly expire, it will not taste as fresh after the best before state and will most likely turn stale.
However, there are different types of teas such as black tea, green tea, herbal tea, oolong tea, organic tea, and fruity tea which have different shelf-life best before dates.
For example, herbal teas and fruity teas will expire faster than black tea because of the ingredients.
Nevertheless, the one tea which is the exception is pu-erh tea because this type of tea is fermented and the flavor improves over time.
How Long Do Tea Bags Last
If stored correctly, tea bags can keep well after their best before date and last for a long time, but dates will vary depending on the type of tea.
The good news is that because tea bags are often used daily and replenished after several months, not many people will run into this problem.
It’s always best to follow the best before date on the packaging, but you can still use the tea bags after – smell the tea bag and if it’s fresh, then it will be fine to use.
Can Tea Bags Get Moldy
Depending on how the tea bags are stored, they can get moldy due to bacteria growth which is uncommon but possible.
When stored in a completely dry environment, tea bags are very much safe, and it’s the ideal storage condition for the tea leaves to stay fresher for longer.
However, if the tea bags are stored in an environment where there’s moisture and light, there’s a high risk of bacteria growth which leads to the tea bags going moldy.
For example, if you store your tea bags in an open space on your kitchen countertop, they will quickly go bad and moldy.
Do Tea Bags Get Stale
Tea bags will eventually go stale beyond their best before date, but it does depend on the type of tea and ingredients involved.
For example, black teas are renowned to stay fresh for a long time but herbal and fruity teas will begin to gradually go stale sooner because there are more ingredients and blends involved.
A simple rule to follow, the more blends and ingredients in a tea bag, the sooner it will lose its flavor after the best before date.
As previously mentioned, the one exception is pu-erh tea because this type of tea is fermented and the flavor improves over time.
How To Store Tea Bags
The best way to store tea bags is in an airtight container and in a cool dry storage place which ultimately helps keep them fresher for longer.
If you keep tea bags stored in an environment that contains moisture and light, they will go moldy and stale.
By following this rule, you should never have an issue with a tea bag and your afternoon cup of tea should taste fresh.
Can You Freeze Tea Bags
Yes, you can freeze tea bags, but it’s extremely vital that you keep them stored in an airtight freezer bag to keep them fresh and prevent freezer burn.
Although it’s uncommon to freeze tea bags, you might need to if you purchase a large batch and want to save them for a later date.
Ensure you label and date the freezer bag, and allow them to defrost 30 minutes at room temperature before you use them.
Of course, the one exception is pu-erh tea – don’t freeze this tea.
What To Do With Expired Unused Tea Bags
If you have an expired tea bag and feel that it’s too stale to use, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to throw them out because they still can be useful in many ways.
Here are some examples:
- You can use them to absorb unpleasant odors.
- Use for multiple types of skincare routines or hacks.
- Ingredient to help refresh your carpets.
- Helps soothe a sunburn.
- Use your old tea bags for your campfires.
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