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Can Hot Tea Packets Expire?

by Teresa Bergen, studioD

The ravages of time – and improper storage – can cause teabags to get stale, become rancid and generally expire. In the newsletter Tea Muse, tea expert Samantha Cappuccino-Williams recommends limiting your tea selection to a consumable amount; using teabags within a year of purchase; and annually purging your tea cupboard of old tea. People hold onto tea because they don’t want to be wasteful, or they received it as a gift and feel guilty that they didn’t drink it. Toss expired tea, and properly store newer tea. Follow tea storage best practices and your tea has a better shot at being enjoyed rather than expiring.

Keep Moisture Away

Tea’s public enemy No. 1 is moisture. Tea leaves are very absorbent. Humidity can ruin your tea stash and lead to rancid, moldy bags. Don’t store your tea in the cupboard above the stove, where steam from boiling water can make its way into your tea collection. Also avoid storing tea packets near dishwasher vents.

In the Dark

Glass jars full of teabags might look pretty on your shelf, but light is no friend to tea. Sun and light bleach your tea, making flavor disappear. Choose an opaque method of storage instead. Leave teabags in their original box or put them in a metal canister inside a dark cupboard.

Airtight Packaging is Best

Avoid exposing your teabags to air flow. Teabags packaged individually in sealed plastic are safer than those packed in paper. Make sure there’s no excess air inside a box or bag where you’re storing your teabags. Storage containers must have tight seals. Teas easily absorb odors, which is how the jasmine flavor gets into jasmine tea. However, you probably don’t want your tea smelling like turmeric, onions or whatever else might be lurking in your cupboard. Airtight storage will prevent odors from transferring to your teabags. And don’t store different flavors of loose teabags together, or you’ll wind up with one composite flavor.

Cool Storage

Too much heat will cause tea to expire by robbing it of flavor. A cool cupboard is a good choice. Make sure no heat sources, such as ovens, stoves or heater vents, are near your tea storage area. Heat also ups the odds that your tea will absorb moisture.

About the Author

Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.

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