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Preserving Tea Goodness: How Long Do Tea Bags Last?

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So, you went to the supermarket and bought a bunch of your favorite brand tea bags.

But, have you thought that decision through?

What if the tea bags go bad before you can take your morning sip?

So, in case you are asking yourself: how long do tea bags last? Here’s everything you need to know!

But first, a little about teabags themselves:

What are Teabags?

Simply put, a tea bag is a small, porous bag that contains tea leaves. The practice of using tea bags dates back to the 20th century.

Thomas Sullivan, a tea importer, sent out his tea samples on a hand-sewn muslin bag to avoid the costlier tea tins.

Customers would directly dip the bag into their beverage, and voila! The teabag was born.

Why should you be worried about your teabags going bad?

Well, for one, you could be putting your health at risk if you consume an expired tea bag.

Teabags tend to pick up mold, which can easily mix up with your hot beverage.

More importantly, the teabag itself contains toxic chemicals that become more potent once they expire.

How Long Do Tea Bags Last? Do Tea Bags Go Bad?

A lot of early morning sippers may wonder: do tea bags go bad? Sadly, yes, your tea bags will go bad!

But, why do teabags go bad anyway?

The primary answer to the question is that teabags go bad because of poor storage conditions.

Teabags contain chemicals like Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, and Cadmium. These chemicals do not react very well with air or water.

So, if you keep your teabags in any place other than an airtight container, it can reduce their shelflife.

You may find the expiration date label on your teabag’s packaging.

But, the truth is: It mostly depends on how you store your teabags.

It is also important to note that “bad” teabags do not necessarily mean they are “expired.” In most cases, the tea bag may be safe for consumption.

The only problem is that the natural flavor of the tea may reduce by a significant degree.

Now to the shelf life of teabags:

Generally, tea leaves have a shelf life of about 6 to 12 months. However, the bags themselves contain chemicals that help preserve the freshness of the tea leaves.

Different brands of tea leaves promise a wide range of validity. But, if you want a rough estimate, we would say a typical teabag can last up to 18-24 months.


The true answer may depend on the quality and type of tea leaves and also the brand of teabags you are using.

For instance, green teabags usually have a short shelf life of about 6 months. Black tea bags, on the other hand, may last up to 2-3 years.

You may also find fermented tea bags (red tea) that can last for up to up to 20 years.

How to Tell if Tea Bags Are Bad?

Identifying bad teabags may not be as easy as you might imagine. The signs of a bad tea bag may be very subtle.

So, if you want to make sure you are still safe to dunk the tea bag on your hot morning beverage, look for these signs:

Do you notice a peculiar sour and musty smell coming from your tea?

This is the easiest to tell if your teabags have gone bad. The bag’s chemicals can react with the tea leaves giving it a distinctive sour and pungent smell.

So, unless you have a palate for some weird flavored tea, it would be a good idea to buy a new set of teabags.

Do you notice mold on your tea leaves?

This may be a little tricker than the obvious pungent smell. Mold and mildews can build-up almost anywhere.

So, if you are in the habit of keeping your teabags in a damp corner, chances are, they must have picked up mold and mildew.

You would not want to sip on a cup of mold tea in the morning, do you?

The best way to prevent this is to store the tea bags in an airtight container and keep them in a place away from sunlight, water, and mold-prone areas.

The flavor just isn’t there!

As mentioned earlier, a bad tea bag will lose a good part of its authentic flavor.

So, if your morning tea no longer gives you that burst of flavors, it is a clear indication of a bad teabag.


Teabags are (literally) the little bundles of joy that can make or break your day.

A good cup of tea in the morning can give you that extra push you need to get ready for a hectic day.

A bad teabag? Well, that’s just going to make you cranky all day!

Besides, a good cup of tea comes with a bundle of nutritional goodies that can promote a healthy lifestyle.

As we stated numerous times: the key to keeping your teabags fresh and ready to sip is proper storage.

So, make sure you always store your tea bags in an airtight container and away from water, fire, and those little pesky insects.

How Long Do Tea Bags Last? Do Tea Bags Go Bad?

Recipe by Kimberly Baxter Course: Shelf Life


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  • Tea bags

  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags

  • Labels and markers


  • Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  • Check the “Best-by-date” to know when it expires.
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).
  • Always check for signs of spoilage before using.

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