Does loose leaf tea expire? This is a question many tea enthusiasts often ask. To simply answer it, we can say that tea, just like any other food/drink, has a best before date or use by date. However, this is not necessarily an expiry date.
Unless it goes bad, tea rarely expires. What is termed as best before date is the time it will begin to lose its flavor when packaged and stored right. This means that the time tea will remain in a good state largely depends on the type of tea and how well it is stored.
For instance, loose leaf tea packaged in tea storage containers last longer than tea kept in plastic or glass containers. We will talk about storing tea the right way later.
Therefore, it is important to know that when tea is termed as expired, it doesn’t mean that the tea is not fit for consumption, it just means that the tea has lost its original flavor and taste.
Different teas have different expiry periods, and it is important that we talk about this.
Let’s talk about the 4 major types of tea;
It is easier to know whether or not a certain type of loose leaf tea has lost its flavor; just use your sense of smell to know if it has lost its freshness and aroma, but we will talk more about this in another section of this guide.
To ensure your loose leaf tea last longer, storage is key. You need to keep it in an environment that is odor-free and humidity-free.
Humidity, light, and odor can affect the aroma and freshness of loose leaf tea, making it expire earlier than anticipated.
As we mentioned earlier, how properly you store your tea will dictate its expiry date. When preserved right, loose leaf tea will preserve its qualities. Luckily, there are several ways you can store tea leaves the right way.
Here are several storage tips to help you keep your loose leaf tea fresher and tasting better for longer;
There are storage potteries you can consider that are designed specifically for storing loose leaf tea. These storage potteries ensure that your tea is stored in the best conditions to retain its flavor, freshness, and aroma.
Related Article: How to Store Loose Leaf Tea Properly
Well, there are a few signs to watch out for. Let’s look at some of these signs;
One of the most obvious signs of a tea that has gone bad is having a pungent smell. Some people ignore the smell and continue to brew the tea. This smell is mostly caused by storing tea in a humid area with some airflow.
Some people are still able to drink tea, even when it develops this smell. Well, it is still safe for your health, but it might not be pleasant to drink.
Another quite obvious sign of tea that has gone bad is the presence of mold in tea. Mold can grow on virtually anything, and thus you can find them in your storage box. At first, it might be a small patch hence not easy to notice. Therefore, if you notice your tea losing its flavor, you can pour it out somewhere to look if there are molds forming.
We recommend that you throw away tea that is attracting mold since mold is not safe for your health. It is true that your teas might still be healthy and safe, but the presence of mold will make it unhealthy.
Molds in tea normally come from high humidity in the storage unit. Therefore, we still insist that you store your tea in an airtight container designed for this purpose.
The above two signs might make your tea unhealthy to drink, especially when most of it is affected by mold or has an overly strong smell. However, there is another sign of tea expiring- losing flavor.
In this case, your tea can still be drinkable since it would not harm you, but the flavor and scent are gone, and thus, tea enthusiasts will not find this tea sweet. Some people will still drink it anyway.
To avoid this from happening, you can order smaller batches of your favorite loose leaf tea to ensure that you enjoy it all before it loses its flavor.
The above three signs indicate that either your tea has gone bad or expired. Before we wind up this section, it is important to mention that once you open the box of tea, loose leaf tea begins to lose its potency at a faster rate than when it was packaged.
In most cases, the expiry date indicated on the packaging is solely based on the tea leaves staying as they were packaged. Therefore, strive to store your tea in containers that offer a similar environment to how it was when packaged.
The good thing about storing tea in the right way is that it can be used for years without losing its original flavor and taste. The 'best by date’ of tea indicated on the packaging doesn’t represent the tea’s expiry date, rather it is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the tea will remain in peak quality. If stored properly, you can drink your tea for many years, even when it loses its original flavor, as long as it doesn’t develop a pungent smell or attract mold.
Here is a recap of what we have discussed in this guide;
We do hope you are now more enlightened on the best way to store tea to prolong its shelf-life and preserve its flavor.