We all love to drink a refreshing glass of iced tea every now and then. Not only that, but iced tea is the perfect drink for when you have guests at your house or if you’re simply enjoying the fresh air in the back garden on a hot summers day.
However, we’ve all made that mistake of adding too many ingredients and as a result, having a big jug of iced tea leftover. So the question is does iced tea go bad if not refrigerated?
If you’re a big fan of Iced tea “as we are” then you should know it’s always best served cold straight from the fridge, “but” with that being said, you can still drink iced tea at room temperature.
So does this mean that iced tea can still go bad if not refrigerated?
Lets find out…
Does Iced Tea Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?
Well, to start with, the short answer is “YES” of course, iced tea will go bad eventually if it’s not refrigerated. However, that’s not to say you need to pop your tea in the fridge every time you pour a glass.
Although keeping your iced tea in the fridge would be recommended to get the best possible taste you can still drink this tea at room temperature.
Most of us like to enjoy a glass of iced tea on a hot summers day preferably in the back garden with friends and family. Usually, we do this by leaving a big jug of iced tea in the middle of the table so everyone can help themselves.
However, by doing this your tea will start to go warm especially in the hot weather.
“But” we all know what it’s like when you have family and friends round and we are chatting away and before you know it a couple of hours have passed, and your still drinking your iced tea right?
We have all been there!
So you should know that you can still drink iced tea warm, “but” you also know it doesn’t taste as good when chilled. Now, we are not saying you can drink iced tea the next day when it’s warm. “Not at all”
In fact, there is a time limit once you take you iced tea from the fridge and it starts to go warm, especially if you have ingredients like fresh fruit in your tea.
“By leaving your iced tea unrefrigerated it will eventually go bad”
So this brings us to the question of how long does iced tea last unrefrigerated?
How Long Does Iced Tea Last If It’s Not Refrigerated?
Now, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Iced tea can last up to 8 hours before it starts to go bad” after this time the sugars in the tea will start to breakdown giving off a slight odor and bitter taste.
If you’re using ingredients like fresh fruit in your iced tea then you should know that once fruit expires it contains harmful bacteria that can cause things like vomiting and diarrhea.
So as you can see! Iced tea can last up to 8 hours, which should be more than enough time to consume your tea especially if you have guests.
However, if you still have a lot of iced tea leftover and throwing it away is not an option, then there are some ways you can prolong the lifespan of your iced tea.
Now, by placing your tea in an airtight container and popping it in the fridge this can help prolong the life span of your tea and keep it fresh.
There are some cases where the iced tea has lasted for up to 2 days in a sealed container “But” this is only if the tea is kept chilled in the fridge!
Freeze Your Tea
Did you know that you can actually freeze your tea? “and not just iced tea” This works for any type of tea! and is a great method for those who buy expensive teas and want to prolong the lifespan.
The best thing about this is your tea doesn’t have to be in liquid form. You can freeze tea bags or even fresh tea leaves which again is great your you have expensive teas like Da-Hong Pao or Tieguanyin Tea.
Why Does Iced Tea Need To Be Refrigerated?
The most common reason that iced tea needs to be refrigerated is to keep the tea cold, refreshing, and full of flavor, because as we know iced tea is at it’s best when chilled.
“To get the best possible taste from iced tea you should always serve it chilled”
“But” as mentioned your iced tea will eventually go bad if it’s not refrigerated and the longer you leave iced tea at room temperature the more flavor is lost.
This happens because the sugars in the iced tea start to breakdown and this is where the tea starts to lose its flavor and can taste bitter.
“But” who wants to keep running to the fridge every time you want a glass of iced tea right?
Well, unfortunately, if you want to drink iced tea that’s refreshing and full of flavor then this is something you will have to do! Just remember we are not saying you can’t drink iced tea warm, of course, you can!
“It just won’t taste as good”
If your drinking your iced tea in the garden and you don’t want to keep going back to the fridge for a refill, then you should consider getting a jug that is airtight that can keep your iced tea cool and fresher for longer.
You can also use things like an iced bucket to keep your iced cool. So when your ready to spend the day out in the garden just fill the bucket with iced then place your jug of tea in the iced bucket.
This will keep your iced tea cool and save you a number of trips to the refrigerator for a refill. Just remember to have plenty of ice if you plan to spend all day out in the sun.
What Are The Signs Iced Tea Has Gone Bad?
Now, if you’re unsure whether your iced tea has gone bad or not, there are some clear signs you can look out for that will tell you that your tea has expired.
When iced tea starts to go bad the first thing your notice is the tea will have a strange odor and won’t smell like it did when you first made it.
The second thing is taste, your notice that your iced tea will have a strange almost bitter taste “if so” then this is a clear sign that your tea has expired and gone bad.
“If your iced tea has a strange taste or smell then you should stop drinking the tea immediately”
So there’s the two and first obvious signs that your tea has gone bad. Now, there are other ways to tell if your tea has expired and these are usually noticeable after the tea has been left for a long period of time.
The first is your notice that the tea has turned into a syrup-like texture and this is caused when the sugars start to breakdown in the tea.
The second thing is the tea will start to evaporate now this usually happens when the tea is kept in the fridge. You clearly notice that the tea is starting to reduce and there’s a crystallize line on the side of the jug.
And third, you should also notice that the tea has gone slightly cloudy and this is a clear sign that the tea has gone bad and is no good to drink.
Now, again these three signs only appear when the iced tea has been left for a long period of time and as mentioned your iced tea will go bad a lot sooner if it’s not refrigerated.
Can You Still Drink Tea That’s Gone Bad?
It’s never a good idea to drink tea that has gone bad, not only that but as mentioned above iced tea that’s expired will have a bad taste and smell that will most likely stop anyone from drinking it.
Although drinking expired tea is not that harmful if you still drink this tea then it is possible that your iced tea can make you sick if you have a weak stomach.
“If your iced tea has gone bad it’s always safer just to make a fresh batch”
Also if you have added ingredients like fresh fruit to your iced tea and it’s expired and you still drink the tea it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
This is because when fruit expires it “contains harmful bacteria” which is not good for your body or your digestive system.
Does Store Bought Iced Tea Need To Be Refrigerated?
So we have talked about making your own iced tea and the fact that it will go bad if it’s not refrigerated “But” what if you have bought your iced tea from a store?
Does Store Bought Iced Tea Need To Be Refrigerated?
Well, this is a hard one to answer. Most of us that buy iced tea from a shop usually consume the tea with 10 or 15 mins since it’s only a cup full.
However, what if you buy a big bottle of iced tea? Well, this is where the answer would be “YES” if you plan to keep your iced tea for a day or two you should store the in the fridge.
Iced tea whether it’s homemade or bought from a shop you should always keep your tea chilled, and as you know now, not only will this keep the tea from going bad but will taste a lot better.
“But” if it’s just a cup or small bottle of iced tea and you plan to drink it within the hour then there’s no need “unless” your taking the tea home then why not!
So there you have it now you know that Iced Tea can go bad if it’s not refrigerated. However, you still have 8 hours to consumme the tea which should be plenty of time.
If your going to go through all that trouble to make your own iced tea then it’s best just to pop your tea in the fridge so your tea is at its best every time you pour a glass.
Not only that but keeping your tea in the fridge as mentioned above this will keep it chilled and refreshing like iced tea should be.