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Shelf Life of Tea

If you are one who loves experimenting with your cup of tea and trying out new blends now and then, you’d probably prefer consuming your stock before it begins to lose its flavour and freshness. Information about storage, time frame for consumption, and the freshness of the tea is as important as brewing guides, and forms the basis for brewing your perfect cup of tea. While dried tea leaves themselves do not spoil easily and can last for years, the flavour and aroma can be compromised with time. In order to enjoy a flavourful cup of tea, ensure that you brew it while the flavour is at its peak.

The shelf life of tea defers based on the type of tea, due to the nature of the processing involved:

  • Green Tea retains its flavour and aroma for a comparatively lesser time, because green tea is unfermented. The concentration of phytochemicals called catechins, which are responsible for the healthy effects of green tea, are the highest in fresh leaves. These phytochemicals decrease gradually over time from harvest. Thus, Green Tea is at its best when consumed earlier, and it is recommended that it is consumed within a year from the date of production.
  • Black Tea is fermented, and hence has a longer shelf life, sometimes retaining its flavour for upto 24 months, depending on the method of storage and surrounding conditions.
  • Oolong Tea is semi-fermented and the shelf life varies, based on the degree of fermentation, between 18 and 24 months from the date of packaging, if stored well.
  • White Tea is a more expensive variety among the other teas, and has a longer shelf life as well. It is recommended that you drink it within 24 months from the date of packaging to enjoy the flavours at their best.
  • While the shelf life of the tea is dependent on the type of tea used, it must be noted that flavoured teas have a shorter shelf life, due to the nature of ingredients and flavouring used.
  • While most teas deteriorate with time, some teas such as certain types of Pu’er teas from China are known to get better with time. In these cases, the older the tea, the more expensive the price. Like wine, aged Pu’er tea is viewed as a rare commodity, and is purchased and collected by tea connoisseurs the world over.

How to store tea correctly

The first step towards ensuring that the freshness of the tea is preserved for a longer time must be taken during the packaging of the tea. It is important that the packaging is completely airtight, to shield the tea from external elements that may expedite its deterioration.

  1. Well-sealed foil pouches are a good way to package teas, locking in the flavour and aroma while keeping moisture away.
  2. Tea absorbs moisture and other surrounding aromas easily, so storage plays an important role in prolonging the shelf life. Storing tea in a refrigerator can keep it fresher for longer, but refrigerators can often be a store-house of unwanted aromas. Air-tight containers are your go to option when storing teas, protecting it from moisture, oxygen and other aromas.
  3. Avoid storing the teas in close proximity to items such as coffee and spices, and protect it from exposure to light, heat and air.

At Tea Trunk, the teas are carefully sealed in two layers of packaging - a foil pouch which is in turn packaged in a Tea Trunk tin - to make sure that maximum flavour is infused in your cup of fresh tea. The shelf life of Tea Trunk teas ranges between 12 - 24 months from the date of packaging, and is determined based on the nature of the ingredients used during blending. 

What can you do with expired tea

Tea has numerous other uses besides drinking it as a beverage. So if you have been storing it well past its “best before” date, chances are there are plenty of other options for you to make use of it. Try incorporating it in your beauty regime, or use it to draw out unpleasant odours from your home.

To sum it all up, a little effort can go a long way in helping you enjoy your favourite type of tea over a longer period of time. So the next time you feel tempted to purchase that delicious looking blend, go ahead. Savour it, one sip at a time.


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