How Long Does Brewed Tea Last?
In this guide, we discuss how long brewed tea lasts and answer a few questions connected to this matter.
To some, tea is more than just a beverage. Tea is a part of our daily lifestyle where we consume it to either kickstart a new day or drink it alongside food such as biscuits or pastries.
Sometimes, the tea that we would end up brewing for that day could be excessive, so this brings us to this question – How long does brewed tea last? In this article, we’ll discuss how long brewed tea lasts and answer a few questions connected to this matter. Let's proceed.
How long does brewed tea last at room temperature?
Brewed tea usually lasts around eight hours when left at room temperature. Any time past that and bacteria will start to grow, rendering the tea unsafe for consumption. By that time, you would want to get rid of the tea and maybe, make a new and fresh batch.
However here are some tips to ensure that your brewed tea will last longer:
- First and foremost, do not add sugar to your tea unless you do intend to drink it right away. While sweet teas have great taste, it does come in with a drawback – sugar in tea invites bacteria which results in the shorter life of the brewed tea.
- The quality of the tea leaves is going to affect the tea’s lasting duration. Don’t settle for mediocre leaves, go for the best tea leaves that you can get.
- Store in a fridge if you are intending to consume the tea later. Better be safe than leaving it out in the open for bacteria to thrive.
Does brewed tea need to be refrigerated?
The short answer for this is yes, but keep in mind that brewed tea that’s chilled or iced is recommended to be consumed within eight hours for optimal flavor or taste. For short, the tea is best only for the day it is made, however…
Tea that’s stored in the refrigerator can be good for an additional three or four days and anytime it is consumed past that period, the flavor will start to take a weird turn. In fact, if you would add sugar or fruit by that time, it will ferment and further encourage the growth of bacteria.
If your refrigerated tea is starting to show ropy strands or any weird growth present in the beverage, then it’s time that you would dispose of the tea because those strands or growths are bacteria massing together. Another sign that the tea has gone bad is if the flavor or aroma is far too sour or the liquid looks too thick.
Keep in mind though that refrigerated or chilled tea tends to be less delicate than hot tea. In fact, while hot tea does offer great flavor from the get-go, it does have the caveat of being more susceptible to bacterial growth. The main reason behind that is the water could get warm enough to encourage bacteria to live in the medium. As for cold tea — the main advantage is that you get a cleaner and crisper drink.
Key advice to make cold tea last longer
If you intend to make your refrigerated tea last longer, then consider these tips when brewing the tea first.
- Use an airtight container. The main reason for this is to prevent outside elements from coming into contact with the tea – this keeps the flavor intact and makes sure that the tea won’t get spoiled easily.
- Don’t use sugar. Sugar invites bacteria. This causes the tea to get spoiled easily. If you want sweet cold tea, go for non-sugar alternatives such as honey or maple dust. Alternatively, only add sugar when you will drink the tea.
Can bacteria grow in tea?
As you have noticed in the previous sections, bacteria can grow on tea. Here are the following conditions that can stimulate bacterial growth.
- The tea’s shelf life has exceeded its limit. Whether it is out at room temperature for eight hours or in the fridge for three to four days, if the tea starts to form bacterial growths, emits a very sour aroma, or has an undesirable flavor then that means bacteria are now inhabiting the liquid. Lasting time aside, warm water provides a desirable environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. To resolve this, if you are planning to consume the remaining tea later, store it in a fridge.
- The container is not tightly sealed. A container that is not tightly sealed is another way to invite bacteria. Since bacteria can pass through the small spaces – it is not guaranteed whether your tea will stay fresh when the container isn’t tightly sealed. On top of that, small particles that the air is carrying could make their way into the tea too.
- The brewed tea wasn’t heated enough to a temperature that can kill bacteria hence making them still present in the beverage. The tea must be brewed at temperatures of around 195 degrees Fahrenheit for around 3-5 minutes. The extreme heat makes it a less desirable environment for bacteria to grow at, and If there are any bacteria present – they will be killed.
- Sugar. As said before, sugar is great for people who like sweet tea but it comes in with one caveat and that is it can attract bacteria. For starters, if a pot of tea has surpassed its shelf life and you still added sugar to it, it will be fermented due to the bacterial presence. Bacteria consume sugars to thrive and multiply. If you intend to add sugar to your tea, only add it to the cup that you will consume, not the entire pot.
- Poor preparation methods – this often comes in the form of not-so-sanitized materials such as poorly-cleaned teapots and the like. If the materials that are to be used in storing tea aren’t that cleaned then the foreign particles could invite bacteria to live in it.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: As stated earlier, while hot teas do have the advantage of good flavor right off the bat, the main issue with them is that they’re more prone to getting bacterial growth if left out in the open.
QUICK TIP: If you want to sweeten the entire pot of tea, use different sweetening alternatives such as Honey and Maple dust or syrup. These sweetening alternatives offer the same advantages as sugar but without the drawback of attracting bacteria.
In terms of shelf life, brewed tea can last only up to 8 hours when left out in the open or at room temperature. The moment it goes past that, it will start to show signs of bacterial growth. Meanwhile, if you are going to store the tea inside the fridge, that 8 hours goes up to 3-4 days before it goes bad.
Take note of the signs when the tea could go bad and replace it when you still crave more cups of tea. In terms of storing the tea, make sure you are placing it inside a tightly sealed container in the fridge. This helps in preserving the quality and flavor of the tea before you can enjoy another nice cup.
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