Can Tea Expire – And Can You Still Drink It?

The drawer overflows with a wide variety of teas that have accumulated over the year. The question often arises: are they still durable? Can tea expire and when is it undrinkable?

How long does tea keep?

Like every food in Germany, tea has a best-before date. So if you walk after it, tea can run off. After that, however, it is not automatically inedible.

The official definition of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is:

“The best before date (MHD) is not a disposable date. Rather, it indicates the point in time up to which a foodstuff retains its specific properties (e.g. taste, color, and consistency) under appropriate storage conditions […]. After the expiry date, food is not automatically spoiled or no longer suitable for human consumption. If stored correctly, the food is usually still suitable for consumption without restrictions.”

Can tea go bad?

In contrast to fresh goods such as milk or meat products, tea is one of the foods that have a very long shelf life. The best before the date for herbal and fruit tea, for green or black tea is two to three years. Yellow and white tea as well as rooibos tea are said to have an even longer shelf life.

Medicinal teas, on the other hand, lose their effectiveness after 18 months, because the medicinal ingredients lose their healing effect after a certain time. However, expired tea is still safe to drink if it has been stored properly. It may lose flavor over time but is still drinkable.

Proper tea storage

If tea is stored properly, it can still be aromatic and delicious long after the best-before date has passed. Tea should always be packed airtight so that it does not lose its aroma.

Tea bags are practical because the tea is already portioned and only needs to be infused with water. The disadvantage: the tea bags are permeable to the air. Smells of spices and the like can quickly penetrate the bag and distort the taste. Tea in bags should be stored as dark and dry as possible. A tea box or a kitchen drawer that is only used for tea packs with tea bags is suitable for this. Then tea bags have a very long shelf life and are still of good quality and taste even after two to three years.

Expired tea: when to stop drinking it!

Expired tea is not dangerous and, in most cases, is still drinkable for a long time after it has expired. The only exception is moldy tea! If the tea has been stored in a damp place, for example in the refrigerator, or if water has gotten onto the tea, mold can form. A tea infected with mold should not be drunk.

Incidentally, when stored properly, tea rarely gets moldy. Carefully processed tea contains only a minimum of moisture, which makes it difficult for fungal spores to multiply on it.

Before preparing the tea, it is always advisable to take a closer look at the tea or the tea bag. Are signs of mold visible? Or is the tea supply infested with pests? After such a check, it is usually no longer a question as to whether tea can expire – it is always enjoyable even if the best-before date has passed!

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Written by Crystal Nelson

I am a professional chef by trade and a writer at night! I have a bachelors degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and have completed many freelance writing classes as well. I specialized in recipe writing and development as well as recipe and restaurant blogging.

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