Does tea eventually go bad?

Mods: Since this is a food related question you might want to move it to Café Society instead…

I found an opened box of Tetley’s ‘British Blend’ tea I had purchased a few years back on a business trip to the UK. There is a ‘best used by JUN2606’ date on the box.

I must have unsealed the box, taken out and used a bag or two, closed the box and then completely forgot about it. I found it again this morning, took out a tea bag and it worked just fine.

Is there a shelf life for tea where, say, after 50 years it really wouldn’t be very good to drink?

I had been keeping it in a cool dry place for all these years and the humidity here is fairly low if that makes any difference.

Tea can go off in a couple of ways. Bacteria, fungus or mold can grow in there, which of course is nasty. It’s more likely to happen quickly in a humid environment, but there’s enough water left in the tea leaves and the paper bag and the box to allow microbial growth in a dry environment eventually.

The other way tea goes bad is by losing the essential oils that give it flavor and taste. These will evaporate over time in an opened container.

Not to argue the price of tea in…your supermarket…but at this point, I’d pitch it and get a fresh box. :smiley:

I should also mention that these tea bags are loose in the box and not individually wrapped like my Twinings tea bags are, so they are exposed to the air.

The most likely thing that will happen is the oil in the leaf matter will evaporate and the tea will come out blander than normal. Anyway, you can buy Tetley’s at a number of US grocers now anyway, and they’re not exactly high end. Pitch 'em.

I have now thrown them away.

I’ve had some similarly old tea that tasted just fine. Green tea will turn black with age, but black tea remains black tea.

Just pour yourself a cup and see how it tastes. I would expect that after all these years, it would be pretty stale, like that jar of oregano that’s been sitting in the back of grandma’s spice cabinet for 15 years.

When tea does go bad it’s usually the result of peer pressure. Get involved in your tea’s life to avoid this problem.

Sounds to me like you have more than 588 years to go. What’s the problem? :smiley: