Does Tea Go Bad? Why the Expiration Date on Tea Doesn't Mean What You Think

Emily Weaver
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When deciding what kind of tea you're in the mood for, there's a lot to think about. From choosing a flavor to picking tea bags or tea leaves, the simple drink is actually extremely versatile. Then there's the controversial debate about whether or not you should microwave tea. But no matter how you like it, one commonality among people who drink tea is that they usually have it in their cabinets for a long time, which raises the question: does tea go bad?

While tea does always have an expiration date, it's there more as a suggestion when to use the tea by in order to get maximum flavor. If consumed after the shelf-life date, nothing bad will happen, but once it's prepared, your tea might not have any (or may have very minimal) flavor.

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The best way to store tea is in a dry and dark place like a cabinet or pantry to avoid heat or air from speeding up the aging process. If you don't plan on using it at all within a few months, make sure to use an airtight resealable package to help the flavor last longer.

If you're still concerned about brewing tea that's past its due date, try smelling the bags or loose leaves first. If there's no lingering aroma, it might be best to go ahead and toss it. And while you can have an absent eye when it comes to a tea's expiration date, you probably shouldn't use bags or leaves a year past it. And that's the tea!