Tea leaves are a miraculous ingredient, aren’t they?
Dunk them in your morning beverage and, boom! It refreshes you for the whole day.
Different types of tea leaves also come with their distinct health benefits.
But did you know your tea leaves can go bad? Contrary to what many people may believe, tea leaves do come with their “best before date.”
So, if you are still using the same old tea leaves to brew your green/black/red tea for a year, maybe it is about time you restock your tea leaves jar.
Tea leaves tend to lose a good deal of their nutritional content after a certain period.
So, if you want to harness your tea leaves’ full health benefits, it is crucial to understand when and why they go bad.
In this write-up, we will help answer the daunting question: how long do tea leaves last? And how to spot bad tea leaves.
How Long Do Tea Leaves Last? Do Tea Leaves Go Bad?
For those wondering if tea leaves even go bad at all, the short answer is yes!
Tea leaves do go bad. And now, to the part of how long do tea leaves last?
The answer depends on a multitude of factors.
For one, the duration may vary depending on whether you are using loose tea leaves or tea bags.
Loose tea leaves are usually thicker in size. As a result, they tend to have slightly longer shelf life.
Loose tea leaves may last up to 2 years, while the same for teabags can range between 6-12 months.
Secondly, the answer may also vary on the type of tea leaves. For instance, green tea leaves may last well up to 12 months, while black tea leaves usually have a lifespan of up to 24 months.
Similarly, the shelflife of white tea leaves may be up to 12 months, and the same for oolong tea leaves can be around 24 months.
Now that you know your tea leaves can go bad, you might be in a state of panic. But do not fret! There is a silver lining.
There are certain things you can do to preserve the shelf life of your tea leaves.
Follow these storage tips to ensure your tea leaves do not go bad quickly:
Keep it in an airtight container and away from sunlight. Prolonged exposure to light/heat can diminish the quality of the tea leaves. Instead, keep it in a cool and dark place.
Contrary to popular practice, you may also want to avoid glass jars. The main reason is that light can easily penetrate through glass. Instead, a stainless steel airtight container may be a better option.
Avoid opening the container lid frequently unless you need to use it for brewing your tea.
Avoid using wet spoons to scoop the tea leaves. Exposure to water can make them lose nutrients more rapidly.
How to Tell if Tea Leaves are Bad?
Now that you know tea leaves can go bad, it is equally crucial to know how to identify them.
Look for these signs to know if your tea leaves have gone bad or not:
The easiest way to tell if your tea leaves have gone bad is to smell them. Spoiled tea leaves will have a distinct sour and pungent smell to it.
The natural oils present on the tea leaves evaporate over time. That, in turn, reduces the tea leaf’s natural aroma.
If your tea leaves no longer give you that explosion of flavor in your mouth, it is a clear indication that you need to change them out.
Studies show that green tea catechin’s flavor can reduce by nearly 51% in just six months.
Likewise, other tea leaves can also lose their flavor over time.
Look at it
Another way to tell if your tea leaves have gone bad is to look for obvious signs like mold and mildews.
That will not be the case if you store them properly. However, you may see mold and mildew formations in some cases.
If you keep your tea leaves near the sink or scoop them up using wet spoons, it may lead to mold formation.
Now, you do not want to be drinking mold tea, do you?
Many people are still unaware that tea leaves can, in fact, go bad.
Now, there aren’t any major health concerns about using tea leaves after their best-before date. But that does not mean you should keep using them.
Once the tea leaves go past their prime stage, they lose a good deal of authentic flavors.
Besides, the potency of their health benefits also reduces significantly.
It is, therefore, imperative that you use only fresh tea leaves or take proper measures to preserve their flavor.
The ultimate key to a good cup of tea is proper storage. So, make sure you store your tea leaves in an airtight container with minimal exposure to light and water.