Every time you enjoy a cup of tea, have you ever wondered how long does loose tea leaves stay fresh?  Actually, the freshness of loose tea leaves depends on how you store them and the characteristics of each grade.

This article will bring you specific answers about the factors that affect the quality of tea products and give some tips on how to store the teas in the right way.

1. Explanation about how long loose tea will last

In fact, loose tea does not have an expiration date, so it is no exact answer for “how long does loose tea stay good?”. Shelf-life of loose leaf tea shown on product covers means the best time to use the tea. Over time, loose tea will lose its aroma and quality due to the oxidation process, except for Pu-erh tea.

Pu-erh tea
Pu-erh tea will be tastier if we store it over many years

Let us take some examples of how time will affect each type of tea:

Green tea

The process of producing green tea is without fermentation. Therefore if we do not store the tea properly, the tea quality can degrade quickly. Green tea should be packed in a vacuum bag to keep its aroma and quality for 2 – 3 years. When the bag is opened, we should use it up within several weeks.

Black tea

For black tea, it is highly fermented. Thus black tea will stay fresh much longer than green tea. Highly oxidized teas do not lose their flavor and aroma as soon as less fermented teas since they contain less moisture. If properly stored, black tea can last up to three years.

Oolong tea

And how long to keep loose leaf Oolong tea? We can preserve Oolong tea for up to 5 years without losing its aroma if we handle it properly. If you open the container frequently, the tea’s shelf life will be shorter due to the damp air.

Pu-erh tea

The most special tea when talking about shelf-life is Pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea is thought to reach its peak taste in around 60 years, depending on storage circumstances, and then begins to decay over the next 40 years, after which there is little taste left.

Vietnamese oolong loose tea
Vietnamese oolong tea can stay fresh for up to 5 years

In short, most loose teas do not retain the same quality and aroma as it is overtime. However, it rarely spoils to the point where it is unsafe to consume. Furthermore, different varieties of tea have a varying shelf life. Let’s go to the next part to see how we should store the tea properly to keep its quality for a long time.

2. How to store loose tea properly to stay fresh for long term

There ara some factors that influence how long the tea lasts, including light, temperature, air humidity, and odor of other foods. So how can we store the tea properly?

Keep loose tea in a dry area

Tea should be stored in sealed, dry containers, dry areas of the room, and avoid keeping near windows to avoid air, moisture, and water causing mold.

Keep loose tea away from sunshine 

Loose tea easily absorbs light and degrades, quality has faded, so we should avoid exposing tea to light, especially direct sunlight. Tea should be stored in airtight and unclear containers such as tin cans, primary plastic containers and avoid being stored in transparent objects to keep fresh and good aroma.

keep loose tea in jar
Sunshine is one of the dangerous factors to ruin the freshness of loose tea

Keep loose tea in a cool place

The high temperature can increase the oxidation process and then cause tea degradation. And at this point, you may wonder if we can store the loose tea in the fridge and wonder how long tea lasts in the fridge? However, storing tea bags in the fridge is not suggested since condensation can form, affecting the tea’s taste and flavor.

Keep loose tea away from food and spices

Loose tea absorbs the smell of other nearby things. Other smell doesn’t make loose tea lose it freshness, but causes to change its aroma. Thus, we should be careful when storing loose teas in the kitchen and should be stored in separate components. Do not store different tea types close together because their aroma may mix together.

Vacuum loose tea

Vacuum loose tea is possibly the best way to minimize the oxidation process and keep the tea quality as it is for a long time.

Vacuum can keep loose tea leave
Vacuum can keep loose tea leave stay fresh in a long time

Click here to find out more about Vietnamese tea recipes to make a delicious cup of loose tea.

3. Signs to know a ruined loose tea

You will see the line “best before” date in loose tea packaging. It means you can taste the best quality of tea in the duration. Each type of loose tea has a different shelf life, so you should constantly inspect the tea leaves before drinking. Stop using tea when you find evidence of microorganisms such as mold, yeast, or bacteria because they are harmful to your health.

The most evident sign is a stale, strong odor emanating from your teapot. Another obvious sign is you may find mold in your tea. Fading tea aroma means your tea loses its quality.

tea leaves have weird signs
Be careful when your tea leaves have weird signs

Let’s take note of some helpful information as below to inspect the teas:

Bacterial signs

  • Acidic Smell Or Taste – Bacteria produces an unpleasant odor that you will detect if your tea contains it.
  • Tea leaves that are oozing. You must be cautious if your tea is damp and/or sticky.

Mold symptoms

Mold develops on tea leaves in a variety of ways. They all require moisture and will thrive in storage settings with relative humidity above 65 percent.

  • Mold can have a strong odor, although certain types are less detectable. If you cup the tea and it has a bad aftertaste, it has most certainly succumbed to mold.
  • Mold shows up as mycelium between your tea leaves. It comes in various colors, including white, light green, and bright yellow.

As long as you keep these indicators in mind, ensuring that the tea you drink is both tasty and healthy will be simple.

4. Should you drink expired loose tea?

At first, we should first inspect to make sure your tea is of good quality. If the tea is just not in its best before date, generally we can use it. However, it may lose its flavor and best taste. You should not drink the teas if you find any signs mentioned before.

making loose tea leaves
You should check quality of loose tea leaves before using to protect your health

There are several ways to take back the aroma of expired tea if you have old loose tea but  you don’t want to drink it because of its poor aroma and also do not want to throw it away:

  • Roast the tea over low heat until you smell its freshness
  • Steep for a few minutes longer than normal in the cup or pot..

And if you’re still not sure about the freshness and flavor or its quality, you can use these old leaves as fertilizer for your plants and next time pay more attention to storing them properly.

We hope with this article, tea drinkers will have answers for how long can loose leaf tea last and know how to reserve the tea in a good way.

For more information, please contact: huongmaifgc@vietnam-tea.com

  • 1