If you are a matcha lover, you've probably started preparing your matcha tea at home – and chances are you've asked yourself, "how long does matcha last?"
Matcha does not expire, per se. Rather, matcha powder has a best-by date — after this 'best-by' period, your matcha may begin to lose its grassy, umami flavoring – becoming more bitter and often taking on a more yellowish, dull coloring. No chemical reaction makes matcha powder unstable and unsafe, but matcha powder definitely loses its quality over time.
Keep reading to find out how fast matcha can go bad, simple ways you can test it is no longer fresh, and things you can do with older matcha, so it doesn't go to waste – such as using it in baking recipes!
Does matcha powder expire?
As with many other food products, the expiration date of your matcha powder varies depending on whether you've opened yours or left it unopened. Regarding food categories, Matcha powder falls into the category of dried goods. Most dried goods often last a long time and can maintain their quality as long as you are good with a proper storage protocol.
According to most matcha manufacturers, the expiration date for matcha can range from 1 to 2 years. Our matcha, for example, is given an expiration date of 2 years after it has been processed and packaged.
Your time window of optimum matcha freshness really depends on your matcha's storage conditions. Make sure to store your matcha in an airtight container somewhere dark, cool and consistent in temperature, and dry.
What makes matcha go bad over time?
Since matcha is such a finely-ground powder, it has a lot of surface area, making it very susceptible to oxidation. Oxidation is responsible for the deterioration of matcha's compounds over time, leading to the shift of bitter flavors and dulled yellow coloring. (1)
Is it safe to drink expired matcha?
Expired matcha – or oxidized matcha – is generally safe, but it will likely taste stale and bitter and won't carry all the same health benefits as a fresh matcha powder.
This is because, with time, matcha powder will deteriorate in healthful compounds, flavor, and aroma. (3)
How long after opening does matcha go bad?
After opening and when stored correctly, matcha is best consumed within 60-90 days of opening if you want to experience optimum health benefits, vibrant flavors, and an enticing aroma. Once opened, your powder will likely be suitable for preparing matcha at home for up to 12 months. (3)
Of course, this timeframe of freshness is valid as long as your powder is not exposed to moisture or left in a clear container in sunlight.
For example, an excellent spot for storage is your fridge leaving your matcha in a dark, airtight container.
Learn how to tell how matcha has gone bad
Though matcha doesn't necessarily expire, it won't be as flavorful or packed with as many supportive health benefits when it's sitting on your shelf for too long or stored improperly after opening.
Wondering how you can tell if the matcha in your fridge or pantry has gone bad?
Five ways to test and tell if your matcha has gone bad:
Here are five simple tests to perform.
The color test
Matcha powder's bright, almost incandescent green coloring is one of the most uncomplicated factors in identifying if matcha is fresh and of high quality. Once your matcha begins to lose its brighter, emerald green coloring – becoming dull – it's a telltale sign it's oxidizing and starting to lose flavor. If your matcha begins to take on a yellow hue, it's likely on its way out. However, keep in mind that lower grades of matcha – such as culinary grade matcha – may have a duller shade of green than the ceremonial grade you use for your daily cup of matcha in the mornings.
The sniff test
Matcha powder doesn't have a powerful scent to begin with, but it has a unique and very identifiable scent. When you smell your matcha by placing your container a few inches from your nose – you should be able to sniff out notes of earthy, grass tones with a subtle sweet undertone. It won't be the strongest – compared to some herbal teas such as mint – but you should be able to identify it. If the smell is gone from your matcha – or it's completely taken on the smell of something else in your fridge or stored near it in the pantry – that's a powerful sign your matcha is quickly losing its properties and oxidizing.
The sift test.
Pay attention to the texture of your matcha while you are sifting it – if it feels like it is mixing easily – fluffy and soft – it is likely still fresh. However, if you notice your matcha feels grainy and sand-like while sifting – it has likely become bitter with age and is not suitable for drinking.
The whisk test
If you just can't decide if your matcha powder is fresh or not using the smell, taste, color test, or sift test, you may want to try making some matcha tea. If the whisking of your matcha doesn't produce the same tiny bubbly frothy layer, it may be a sign your matcha is not so fresh. Do keep in mind however the water temperature and other factors can influence your bubbly frothy surface.
This means you should finish it or use it in another way – like a baking recipe or as a hair mask.
The taste test
If your matcha is looking a bit more dull than usual and you just aren't able to smell it anymore or tell the difference while preparing it – then it may be time to taste it. If it wasn't bitter before, but you notice more of a bitter flavor, it's definitely breaking down and nearing the end of its shelf life.
What should I do with matcha that has gone bad or stale?
Just because your matcha is its 'best by' date and may have lost some of its strength, it doesn't mean it's something you want to throw away. After all, every bit of matcha powder is precious.....matcha doesn't really expire.
You can use your stale or 'expired' matcha for:
Possibly for your dog - see our blog post on the topic and ask your vet
What is a non-negotiable sign I should throw out my old matcha?
The only sign of matcha that has truly gone bad or expired and is not suited for any other type of use is if you find mold in your matcha. Moldy matcha can happen to your matcha powder when you leave it stored improperly in a humid environment where water gets into your matcha container. (2)
If this is the case, it is best to discard it and buy some fresh matcha powder.
The bottom line: Look for a fresh production date when buying matcha
While quality matcha powder can last 1-2 years and is safe for consumption after this timeframe, the expiration date of matcha is not something to focus on when selecting your matcha powder packaging. You also want to avoid matcha powder with any added ingredients that would increase the shelf life beyond that.
Instead, we encourage you to look for matcha powder with the freshest production date.
Estévez, M., Li, Z., Soladoye, O. P., & Van-Hecke, T. (2017). Health Risks of Food Oxidation. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 45–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.afnr.2016.12.005
Food & Safety Inspection Service. (2013, August 22). Molds on Food: Are They Dangerous? In USDA. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/molds-food-are-they-dangerous
Hazra, A., Dasgupta, N., Sengupta, C., Saha, G., & Das, S. (2020, February 21). Temporal depletion of packaged tea antioxidant quality under commercial storage condition. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 57(7), 2640–2650. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-020-04300-0
Koláčková, T., Sumczynski, D., Minařík, A., Yalçin, E., & Orsavová, J. (2022, April 30). The Effect of In Vitro Digestion on Matcha Tea (Camellia sinensis) Active Components and Antioxidant Activity. Antioxidants, 11(5), 889. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox11050889