Does herbal tea expire? That's the question we've been asked a lot. The short answer: technically no, but sometimes yes. And, yes, it doesn't clarify anything. So, let's look at this "best before" date closer and see what it actually means.
What if your tea has a date on it, but it doesn't say whether it's a "best before" or "expiration" date? That is a commonly used in the food industry (not just tea) trick. Check the ingredients to see if the blend has those that that can go bad. If it's a pure herbal or Camellia sinensis tea, it does not expire. You can safely enjoy those teas well past their "best before" date. If the tea made of or has mixed in fruit, berries, and other "likely to expire" ingredients, you better think twice about consuming it past the date on the box.
What if tea doesn't have any dates at all? Not putting a "best before" or "expiration" dates is common for small artisan producers (just like us). That is not to trick or mislead you! Most of the handmade blends are made of herbs that can last for a long time. If you are unsure, contact the seller and ask when the herbs in your tea were harvested (hint: original producers, not resellers, will ALWAYS know an exact answer).
Different types of tea have a different shelf life. Herbal teas, just like teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant, don't have a fixed expiration date, but rather, slowly lose flavor over time. Some big commercial brands will typically put "best before" date around two years from the harvest date. Just like with Camellia sinensis tea, proper storage is critical for ensuring herbal tea stays fresh. In fact, if properly stored, some teas such as White Tea, Pu-erh tea, or Willowherb tea will only improve their quality over time.
To maximize the shelf life and retain its flavor and potency of loose leaf tea: