How to Judge Whether Tea Has Expired

Tea has a shelf life, but it is related to the variety of tea. Different teas have different shelf life. Drinking tea is good for our health, but drinking expired tea will do harm to our health. So how to judge whether tea has expired and what are the magical functions of the expired tea? Let’s see it together!

Tea is essentially an agricultural product with its own shelf life. The shelf life of tea can be understood as the best period for drinking under the premise of proper storage. Among the six major types of tea, green tea has the shortest shelf life, because it is an unfermented tea, and requires higher storage condition. Generally, it can be stored for 18 months in a low temperature environment of 0℃ – 5℃. Green oolong, which also requires low temperature storage condition, usually has a shelf life of 2 years. Black tea is a whole fermented tea with a relatively long shelf life, usually 3 years, and the taste of black tea will slowly become soft and mellow over time. White tea is a slightly fermented tea. Its production process is simple and maintains the most original taste of tea. White tea is known as the “one-year tea, three-year medicine, and seven-year treasure”, so if the white tea is properly stored, the longer the value and the better the taste will be.

tea leaves

tea leaves

I. How to Judge Whether Tea Has Expired

Judging whether a tea is expired, there are mainly the following aspects: whether it has mildew or strange odor; whether the green tea turns red or yellow, the tea liquid color becomes brown and dark; and whether the taste, the freshness decrease.

Packaged tea

In general, packaged tea will have a shelf life on the package. In this case, as long as the tea is in the indicated shelf life and is has kept in good condition, it can be safely consumed.

packaged tea

packaged tea

Unpackaged tea

This usually refers to the loose tea and tea made by ourselves. First of all, we can observe the appearance and texture of tea. From appearance, if the tea expired and get mold, the color of tea may usually become white. From texture, most of the expired tea leaves are very light, and the flexibility is poor. Secondly, smell the tea leaves and observe the color of tea liquid. Expired tea leaves will give off a stale smell or a distinct different smell from the fresh tea; while the tea liquid will also become thicker and darker. For instance, green tea should has green appearance and clear tea liquid, if the tea become dark brown and the tea liquid goes darker and even turn red, then the tea are not drinkable anymore; Another example is the black tea which has golden amber tea liquid, if it is expired, it will show a dull gray tea liquid. Last, we can also taste the tea. If the tea is expired, its taste will be greatly reduced and the bitter taste will be more obvious.

unpackaged tea

unpackaged tea

II. The Magical Effects of Expired Tea

If you have expired tea in your home, don’t rush to throw them away. Although expired teas are no longer suitable for drinking, they have some other magical effects.

Tea Liquid

Tea Liquid

Eliminate odor

The expired tea leaves still have some aroma, and the good adsorption of the tea can help us remove the odor of refrigerators, cabinets, etc.


Using expired tea as fertilizer allows plants to grow better and make the leaves shinier. We can also use the expired tea for watering, which has the same effects.


Lay the expired tea in an ashtray and add a little water, so that it will not remain the smell of smoke

Cleaning furniture

Newly bought wooden furniture will have some unpleasant smell of paint, which should not be smelled frequently. We can wipe them with the tea liquid of expired tea, the smell of the paint will be much lighter, and will finally vanish after a few times wiping.

Tea leaves

Tea leaves

Over all, as long as we correctly understand and master the shelf life and storage methods of each type of tea, we don’t have to worry about the expiration our favorite tea. While for some old teas with a long storage period, although they have their own value, it is still necessary to judge whether the tea is in good condition before drinking.


If you enjoyed this article on tea’s storgae and shelf life, you might also like to read the following articles:

The Storage of Tea

Green Tea Storage Tips

How to store black tea properly

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