Can Tea Bags Go Bad?

Updated: Mar 14

tea bag with lavender

Image by Jaime Prohaska Creative Services

Yes, tea bags can go bad, but they don't really expire. Most commercially packaged tea bags do not spoil, but will start to lose potency and flavor over time. The tea bag itself is usually store inside a box and many higher quality brands use tin cans. Then the tea bag itself is packaged inside a wrapper, some brands even use foil wrappers. Having tea bags double sealed has to prolong the flavor and insure the tea does not taste stale.

According to Tufts University, tea bags that are kept dry will not spoil, and as long as they are stored away from heat, water, light and air, the flavor and phytochemical content can be maintained for up to two years. Store your tea bags in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard, away from direct heat or sunlight. To make them stay fresher longer it is suggested to keep them in an airtight container. It is recommended to not store tea bags in the refrigerator or freezer. Condensation may result which will change the taste of the tea bags.

Tea bags are safe to use after the "expiration date" on the package. Most brands of tea will have a "Best By," "Best if Used By," "Best Before," or "Best When Used By" date on the container. This is different then an expiration date. It is an estimate of how long the tea bags will remain at fresh and flavorful.

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