Packaged tea, loose tea and powdered tea mix can last between 6 months to a year when stored in the pantry and can last for 1 to 2 years past the printed expiration date when stored in the freezer. Tea that has been steeped or prepared should be consumed in 3 to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator and can last for 6 to 8 months when stored in the freezer.
Tea is made by steeping the cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, a shrub that is endemic to the Asian region. It is the second most consumed beverage in the world next only to water. There are several classifications of teas and they are categorized according to the process in which they are prepared. These classifications include white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea and black tea.
Tea is considered to have gone bad once the aroma of the leaves have become bland. This means that the oils that give the tea its flavor and aroma have evaporated. Once this happens, adding more of the tea that has "gone bad" may still be able to yield a serving or two of tea. The shelf life of tea can be extended by storing the unprepared tea in the freezer as this will help delay the evaporation of the natural oil in the tea leaves.