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Tea 101 - Stale Tea?

Rotten Tea
Rotten Tea

A common question among tea newbies: how long do the leaves last?  Is there an expiration date?

Yes…in a matter of speaking.

In all honesty, you should be drinking your tea shortly after you purchase it.  Don’t buy copious amounts unless you plan on drinking it quickly.  How quickly?

Well, according to some, green teas last a season while some blacks can last two.  On the other hand, there is Pu-erh tea which improves with age.  There have also been reports of some oolongs lasting a decade.  While there is no exact science that pinpoints an expiration date, it is safe to assume that unless stored properly tea does not last long.

How do you know if you have stale tea? Only one way to find out: experiment with a cup.  It won’t hurt, I promise.  If you properly stored your tea, you may be pleasantly surprised.

However…if you do find yourself with some stale tea…what do you do?

The popular thing to do is to use the leaves as potpourri or perhaps pillow sachets.   There are even reports of making eye pillows.  You could also, continuing on the topic of relaxation, make a bath out of the old tea leaves for a little aromatherapy.

I managed to find a recipe or two on making cocktails from tea.

Reader’s Digest wrote an interesting article naming at least 5 creative things you could do with your tea:

  1. Relieve razor burns
  2. Reduce foot odor
  3. Tenderizing meat for cooking
  4. Helping your roses grow
  5. Reducing puffiness in eyes

The possibilities are endless.  This shows you that tea is more than just a beverage and the adventures of tea do not end when it is no longer drinkable.

What do you think, dear readers? What other creative ideas do you have for your stale tea?