How to tell if your tea is bad, according to a tea expert

tWhile it’s often obvious when bread or berries go bad — they’re mushy and moldy — other foods aren’t as easy to spot if they’re past their use-by date.

Where in point? Tea. We spoke with Navdeep Kaur, education director of Dona, a company that sells tea leaves, concentrates and spices from farms around the world, who shared how to tell if tea is bad — because unlike soggy strawberries, tea needs a bit more of a closer look (plus smell, plus taste) to really tell its fresh state. But rest assured: Checking in is easy with the help of this tea expert tip, taking no more than a minute to complete.

How to recognize bad tea, according to tea experts

According to Kaur, calling on your senses to find a batch of spoiled tea is one of the easiest ways to tell if it’s really spoiled. “Damaged tea leaves lose color, smell and taste,” says Kaur.

In terms of color, it’s helpful to know what a new batch of the same tea looks like so you can compare the before and after and find the differences between them. But when that’s not an option and all you have on hand is the container of tea in question, relying on taste and smell can help point out other telltale signs that your tea is spoiled or the tea is ready to brew.

For starters, smelling the tea before you start boiling to make a cup is often a great way to tell if the tea is fresh; The stronger the scent, the fresher it is. “The essential oils in the tea leaves evaporate, making it no longer strong, aromatic and flavorful,” says Kaur.

But if you’re still unsure based on your sniff test alone, the next best thing to do is brew a cup and taste it. According to Kaur, fresh tea must be fragrant and flavorful; if it lacks aroma or has an old aftertaste, it is likely past its prime. (That said, although flavored tea is susceptible to insect infestation, it is rare for tea to be moldy in the first place.)

For starters, smelling the tea before you start boiling to make a cup is often a great way to tell if the tea is fresh; The stronger the scent, the fresher it is.

What kind of tea lasts the longest?

“Like any other perishable commodity, tea expires, loses flavor and spoils over time,” says Kaur. However, some teas tend to expire faster than others. “Non-oxidized teas – like green and white teas – have a shorter shelf life than fully or partially oxidized, roasted and fermented teas, like black and oolong teas,” she says. Pu-erh tea.

How to preserve tea so it doesn’t go stale?

The key to tea not going bad is to slow down oxidation and exposure to elements like oxygen, heat, and light. “When exposed to the air and outdoors for long periods of time, tea loses its flavor and freshness,” says Kaur. So an ideal tea container should be airtight and kept in a cool, dry, dark place in your home. And if matcha is your tea of ​​choice, Kaur recommends storing it in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness even longer.

Of course, even if your favorite tea has sadly gone bad, there are great ways to get the most out of it—not simply pouring your money down the drain. According to Kaur, you can use old tea for other DIY projects around your home. “The tea leaves can be used as fertilizer for the soil and painted or dyed fabrics,” she said.

But that’s not all; if the tea simply loses its potency — and doesn’t actually rot, the tea is still drinkable. Kaur recommends: “Teas that have lost their flavor and aroma can also be used as a topping in soups or broths and as a skin care product — as a face scrub or brewed to create Make a facial spray.

This herbal tea is ideal to help calm you down before bed:


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