Can Herbal/Spice Drinks Go Bad?

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Herbal tea and spiced teas are fine if they are kept in certain ways, but they do eventually go bad. We will talk about some of the ways that herbal tea and other drinks like it can go bad. An experiment was done on two different popular and healthy basic spiced drinks. We placed ginger and cinnamon in two separate cups and left them sit at room temperature for some time to see if any changes would occur.

We placed 1 teaspoon of ginger and cinnamon in a pot of boiling water to cook separately before taking a cup of each of them and setting them out for awhile after it finished boiling.

Grounded ginger and cinnamon were used in water and left for some time. After more than 7 days, the spiced teas were examined to see what had become of them. We found that both had gone bad, giving off an unpleasant but faint aroma. This smell wasn’t strong, but it could be smelled if the nose was next to the cup.

On the cinnamon, the smell was faint (probably because it was only a teaspoon of it), but it definitely wasn’t pleasant like cinnamon normally would be. The cinnamon drink started out really clear with a beautiful brown red color, but after spoiling it became murky. The edges of the cup had black mold linings, and the entire surface was covered with a translucent skin with bubbles underneath it.

Some of the top layer was even turning green and white. It is not a pretty sight. Definitely by looking at the cinnamon tea, we could tell that it had clearly gone bad, and could not be consumed this way.

Spoiled cinnamon tea.
Spoiled cinnamon tea.

The ginger tea pretty much was the same way as the cinnamon tea. It had spoiled, but had less black and white mold and bubbling. Instead, it became more murky with a thicker layer on the surface. The surface was growing a cloud on the top of the ginger tea that was spreading like veins into the rest of the water. The ginger tea also gave off an unpleasant smell, but once again, it could only be smelled when very close to it. It still smelled somewhat like ginger.

Spoiled ginger tea.

Both of these spiced drinks had the same unpleasant aroma, but still had the smell of what it was (cinnamon/ginger) at the same time. The base of the drinks were still liquid, but the surface contained mold.

Are herb or spice drinks safe to drink after they are left out?

The short answer is no. Herbal teas and spiced teas are not safe to drink after they are left out. Over time they can begin to grow mold and bacteria that makes them unsafe for consumption, if they are left out at room temperature for too long. This would also apply to other beverages that contain herbs and spices in them.

If any herbal drinks/spiced drinks are left out overnight, or for 8 hours or more, then it is best to dispose of them. They can be harmful if consumed after this point. To extend the life of herbal and spiced beverages, they can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. After this, the beverage should be disposed of, not consumed.

From the illustration provided above, it shows what is growing in the herbal and spiced teas, not just to the naked eye, but also from a microscopic perspective. Just because tea may look good and safe to drink after it has been made and left out for awhile, doesn’t mean that it is.

For your own health and safety, dispose of old herbal drinks, and make it fresh. This information applies to all herbal and spiced drinks. Chamomile, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, peppermint, turmeric, and all other herbs and spices used to make herbal drinks can go bad in the drink, after they are made into the actual tea.

As long as the tea leaves or grounded contents used to make herbal drinks is kept in its dried state, they are safe to use to make herbal drinks. However, after the tea is made, then the timer starts at this point on how long they will last before they eventually spoil. Herbal drinks are not exempt just because they are drinks and not food.

Usually the most organic and healthy foods and drinks are more prone to spoiling the fastest. So the best way to keep these foods and drinks, is in a completely dry state before they are used to make foods and drinks (as dried leaves or grounded powder). Once moisture makes contact with these substances, it allows bacteria and mold to grow on them if they aren’t kept at certain temperatures.

The best way to prolong herbal drinks that have already been made for consumption, is to keep them heated at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to keep bacteria and mold from growing in them over time. The tea should be strained from the leaves if using tea leaves, and then kept warm at this temperature. Any temperature less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit can put the herbal drinks at risk of degrading over time and growing bacteria.

Never consume tea or herbal drinks that have been left out for days, even if it looks fine. If the grounded powder or tea leaves have been moisturized for an extended period of time prior to using them for herbal drinks, then they also can expire and go bad.

As long as tea leaves are kept in their dried state with no moisture, then they can last indefinitely, but they will lose their aroma and flavor over the years. Grounded powders will maintain their flavor and taste if kept in sealed containers.

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