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Does Tea Need to Be Refrigerated? (And How Sugar Affects Shelf Life)

Does Tea Need to Be Refrigerated? (And How Sugar Affects Shelf Life)
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Tea can be refrigerated if it is stored in an airtight container with a lid. Refrigeration helps preserve the taste and prevent any mold from growing.

Tea is a popular beverage that is made by pouring hot water over tea leaves or herbs. Teas can be bitter, sweet, hot, or cold. The taste and temperature of the tea are dependent on what a person’s taste preference is.

For the flavor to be infused into the water, the leaves must be soaked in water. Tea can be prepared with either boiling or cold water, and it can be consumed and enjoyed either hot or cold.

Tea is delicious and many people enjoy drinking it. If someone makes a big pot of tea, there are normally leftovers. In regards to storage, there are several different answers as to how or when tea should be put away.

Refrigeration and Tea

Keeping tea in a fridge will help it last longer. The cold environment will help keep it fresh-tasting. It will also prevent bacterias and toxins from forming. Keep in mind that boiling liquid should not be put in a refrigerator immediately.

When the drink is exposed to elements such as air and heat for long periods, it begins to decompose. The cold helps preserve the vitamins and other flavors.

Bacteria have a lesser chance of growing in a fridge than it does out in the open. Room temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius or 69 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, bacteria also form.

Natural flavors and nutrition are affected by long-term exposure to heat. They begin to break down and lose their health value. Of course, some properties disintegrate when the tea is brewed with boiling water. But most of the nutritional value is still there.

The issue arises when the already-brewed tea has been sitting out exposed to air and heat for long periods.

Taste is also a major factor when it comes to tea. Lovers of the beverage enjoy tasty and fragrant flavors. Some people prefer the taste of teas when they are served cold, such as green tea. Some teas lose their flavor, such as chamomile.

It is also important to know that bacteria can still form on food items while they are stored in the refrigerator. Keeping tea in cold environments helps to slow the process.

Be sure to discard food that has been left in a fridge for long periods.

Cold and Hot Teas

Tea is made from the infusion of tea leaves or herbs in water. Whether the water is cold or hot is up to the person who is drinking the tea.

A cold brew tea is made by pouring cold water over the leaves or herbs. The herbs then sit for hours so their flavor can extract in the water.

Cold brews take much longer to reach the final product. They can brew from anywhere between 5 to 20 hours. This is dependent on what kind of herbs are being soaked in the water.

Mint tea does not take as much time as a tea-like red raspberry leaf. Cold tea tastes different because it is more subtle and less bitter. It is also smoother than hot teas.

Hot tea is much quicker to make. It is made by pouring boiling water on the leaves or herbs of choice.

The hot water allows the flavor and health benefits to be extracted from the tea leaves or herbs much more quickly. The water is usually more fragrant. Hot tea is also used to soothe ailments such as colds or sore throats.

Tea Bags Versus Loose Tea

There is a difference between tea bags and loose teas. Loose tea is the large, dried leaves and herbs that are stored in a canister. Tea bags contain crushed leaves and herbs in a single-serving bag that can be soaked in water.

When using loose tea, the herbs circulate throughout boiling water. They can easily be picked out of the water if needed.

Teabags can be used in cold or boiling water. They sit in a cup or pitcher for as long as needed. The longer the bag sits, the more fragrant the tea is. Normally, they come with a string attached so they can easily be removed.

Both of these types of tea can be put in a refrigerator for later use. Choosing the type of tea is up to the preference of the drinker.

Can Tea Expire or Go Bad?

Yes, brewed tea can go bad. It must be stored in a container that is airtight. Drinks that are left unattended for long periods can grow mold and other bacteria.

This is especially true for drinks that contain fruits and added sugar. Many people add sugar or fruit to their brewed teas.

Tea prepared from both bags or loose tea leaves can go bad. If the tea is stored in containers that have no lids and sit out in the heat, they will both most likely have bacteria form.

Both types of tea must be stored properly so that the taste and safety of the tea are not compromised.

A good rule of thumb is not to let tea go uncovered for more than eight hours on a counter or in a fridge. If the tea is kept in an airtight container, then it can last longer. Teas stored in airtight containers can last 24 hours at room temperature.

Make sure that the container is perfectly clean before making tea. Because the drink relies on fragrant leaves or herbs to taste good, a dirty cup or pitcher could ruin the taste entirely. It could also pose a health issue if the pitcher has mold in it.

Tea that has bacteria formed in it will not immediately taste bad. People can still experience an upset stomach or even food poisoning if there are toxins formed in the tea. After it has sat out for a long time, the tea will start to taste gross.

Be Sure to Keep Tea Covered

It is important to keep tea covered while it is brewing or sitting out. Whether the tea is on the counter or in the fridge, it must be covered.

Tea should even be covered if it is going to be used within the next hour. It is okay to actively drink tea without any lid.

A tea drink could be spoiled from stray dust particles or hairs that are in the air. More dangerously, bacteria begin to form more quickly in drinks that are left uncovered. Bacteria is an airborne toxin.

To protect the tea from being ruined, it is smart to have a lid on it.

Adding Sugar or Fruit to Teas

Teas that have added sugars or fruits will go bad more quickly. Adding sugar to tea makes the flavor taste sweeter. Many people choose to add sugar or sweetener to their drinks.

If someone wants to add sugar to their drink, it is best to drink the tea as soon as possible. Sugar breaks down the natural nutrients over time.

The quicker the tea is consumed, the less chance the sugar has to interact with the nutrients.

This is the same for added fruits in teas. Fruits contain natural sugars. These sugars break down nutrients in teas just as other sugars do.

If someone wants to make a pitcher of tea for a party, for example, the tea will be fine to drink within a few hours of preparation. However, it is not a good idea to leave fruits or added sugars in teas for more than 24 hours.

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