Does Tea Go Bad? How Long Does Loose Tea Last?

By October 30, 2017


Same as coffee having unique flavor, tea is also labeled as mild and more nutritious caffeinated drinks. It gains popularity among youngsters in pursuit of distinct flavor of brewed tea. And some caffeine addicts who change coffee drinking habits with tea poured in their cup to prevent caffeine overdose.


It’s agreed that drinking two cups of green tea per day brings out many benefits. However, have you ever thought about the shelf life of tea?  Does your tea go bad? Teabags or loose leaf tea, which one could last longer? Will tea go stale if stored unopened or open to the air? Practically, tea packaged or preserved at a sealed container won’t get trouble within its best before date. However, how long tea lasts mainly depends on its natural condition and your preservation methods.

Here shows you the shelf life of different type of tea.


Expiration date (well-preserved)

Flower tea

1 month

Green tea

1 year

Yellow tea

2 years

Black tea

2 years

White tea

20 years

Oolong tea

30 years

Post-fermented tea

Much longer than 30 years



Preserved at room temperature

Loose tea

6-12 months

Tea bags

3-6 months

Compressed tea

6-12 months

Iced tea

2-3 days

How to know if your tea has become bad?


Loose leaf tea bought from market labeled best before date ranging from 6 to 12 months on average. However, it makes no difference in real occasion. There are some obvious points that help you tell it.

  • Leaf shape. Tea leaves can be moldy and caked if exposed to moisture.
  • Freshly brewed green tea is full-bodied and has smooth and bright aroma, contrasted to stale tea has lost its original flavor and tastes awful.
  • You can tell it by the color of tea liquid. Tea will turn dark brown if it goes bad.
  • Generally, tea should be brewed at comparatively hot water rather than the boiling water. That’s because the aroma and ingredients in the leaves can be damaged with extreme high temperature. And if tea go stale, its strong and freshness suffered largely.

How to store loose leaf tea?


To prolong the shelf life of loose tea and get every cup as an original one, make sure you have well-prepared. There are some elements that directly affect the quality of loose tea you preserved; they are temperature, light and moisture. Preserve it at a colored airtight container and keep it away from light, low temperature, moisture and strong odors. Click to get more detailed ways to store loose leaf tea.

Remember to finish your loose leaf tea within one year and no later than 18 months. Hope you have got some useful information about how long does loose leaf tea last. If you got any opinions please share with us.

You may also like: guidance to brew loose leaf tea for beginners.

                                  How many times can loose leaf tea be used 


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