It's easy to forget about tea bags, particularly if you're more of a coffee drinker. You buy a box just for those unusual occasions when you're in a tea mood, or you have a guest who requests a cup of tea, but for months on end, the Celestial Seasonings box just sits on the shelf, unnoticed, ignored, marginalized. Anything wrong with that?
Here’s the good news: there are no health-related concerns anywhere with regard to the storage of tea leaves and bags; all questions of storage pertain to how best to preserve its taste. If you plan on keeping tea on hand for an indefinite amount of time, invest in some air-tight tin containers, label them with the date of storage, and find a cool, dry space, away from any odorous foods, to stow them. Opinions vary on the shelf life of tea (and the type of tea and how it’s packaged are also factors), but no estimations are less than six months, and some are as long as two years; instant (powdered) iced teas are good for as long as three years. Only after tea has been prepared or opened (and therefore exposed to the elements) is time of the essence; in short, if you make it or open it, drink it soon thereafter to avoid the taste of stale, yucky, even moldy tea. Now relax, and check out our further findings--ideally with a nice cup of tea.

Tea Shelf Life
Tea, loose2 years
Tea Bags18 months
Instant Tea2 years
Boyer, Renee, and Julie McKinney. "Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Dec 2009.

"Cupboard Storage Chart." K-State Research and Extension n. pag. Web. 23 Dec 2009. <http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/humannutrition/hrap/storage/cupstor.htm>.

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