Does tea expire: All about tea expiration

Surely you have ever wondered if tea expires, right? Well, the reality is that there are many conflicting comments about it.

We have set out to analyze whether the tea has an expiration date or not. Can you still drink the tea you bought on your last vacation? And that tea that you never touched waiting for a special occasion? Find out…

The tea

Before analyzing the subject in depth, it is worth remembering a little what tea is because, precisely, its composition keeps the secret of whether or not it has an expiration date.

Tea is made from the leaves of the so-called tea plant, Camellia sinensis; that is to say that it is a fresh product on which an oxidation and drying treatment is carried out.

Of course, the process that is applied to the leaves depends on the type of tea that is desired. Thus, white tea hardly receives any oxidation, while black tea undergoes a long oxidation process. In the middle, we find other varieties with partial oxidations such as green, red, yellow or oolong tea, for example.

If we think about it this way, it would be normal that, being an article produced with leaves, it would have an expiration date and that it would vary from one kind of tea to another, right?

So… does the tea expire?

Yes and no. Like any other fresh product, tea expires. However, at this point we have to make a caveat. The expiration date refers to those perishable products with microbiological risk. This is not the case with tea, as it is a durable product.

In the particular case of tea, the expiry or expiry date does not apply, but rather the preferred consumption date. In other words, once the recommended date has passed, it may have lost its characteristics; however, there are no real health risks if consumed.

Now, not all teas have the same duration, since it will depend not only on the type of tea but on its presentation. Tea in bags is not the same as loose tea. In addition, the conservation that is carried out on it can also affect its properties and, if it is poorly stored, advance its expiration date.

Tea expiration date

Now that it has become clear that tea expires, it is interesting to discover until when its consumption is recommended. In general terms, it is considered that tea can last up to two years but, of course, this will depend on all the variables that we have mentioned before and that we analyze below:

Better in sachets or in bulk?

If we buy tea in sachets, knowing the expiration date is as simple as reading the packaging, but what about loose tea? Despite what you may believe, loose tea lasts longer than tea bags.

This is due to the fact that the rolling to which the leaves are subjected contributes to the best conservation and duration of their essential oils, their aroma, their flavor and their colour.

Note : if you buy tea in sachets, opt for the pyramids that not only infuse better but also better preserve the natural flavor of the tea.

The storage

In both cases, it is recommended that you store the tea in a cool and dry place, without humidity or excess air and where it does not receive sunlight. Of course, if the container is intact, the tea will keep better.

The variety of tea

As usual, the type of tea also influences the expiration date. An oxidized tea is not the same as a semi-oxidized one. Let’s look at some examples:

  • White tea: it is recommended to consume it during the first six months after purchase to prevent it from losing its properties.
  • Green tea: like white tea, it is a low oxidation tea; therefore, it is best to drink it during the first six months. This does not apply to green teas that have been worked on a hot surface; in these cases, the tea remains intact for up to two years.
  • Red tea: Red tea is preserved for long periods of time thanks to its fermentation. In fact, if it is well stored it can last for years in good condition. In other words, its nuances may change but it will always be delicious.
  • Oolong or blue tea: it retains its properties well for approximately a year and a half.
  • Black tea: in general, it is considered to last a year in perfect conditions, although the most oxidized varieties can last longer.

What happens if I drink tea that has expired?

As we pointed out at the beginning of the article, tea has a best before date because it has no microbiological risk; that is to say that drinking tea that has expired will most likely not do you any harm, unless it has become moldy.

In general, after its best before date, you will drink a tea with less body and its properties affected. The most common would be that when you try it you do not feel the expected flavor or aroma.

In conclusion, tea expires but not in the same way as perishable products such as milk, cheese or meat. Its expiration refers to a loss of properties, flavor, color and aroma but would not, in principle, affect health.

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