The world of tea offers an array of delights, from the aromatic blends of green and black teas to the unique taste of herbal infusions. Among these, milk tea, particularly the ever-popular boba tea with its chewy tapioca pearls, holds a special place in the hearts of many. As we delve into plant-based living, understanding the shelf life of milk tea, whether it’s a robust oolong tea or a delicate white tea, can be essential. This knowledge is not just about preserving the flavor of the tea but also about ensuring health and wellness through proper food handling.

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Tips For Storing Milk Tea

Here are all the tips for storing milk tea for optimal taste and freshness!

Freshly Made Milk Tea

The journey of enjoying a freshly made milk tea begins right after its preparation. Whether you’ve opted for a soothing cup of jasmine green tea or a robust brew of classic black tea and have mixed it with almond milk, oat milk, or another milk of your liking, the clock starts ticking. Ideally, this tasty concoction should be enjoyed within 2-3 days when stored in the refrigerator. This time frame ensures you experience the best flavor.

Milk Tea with Toppings

Milk tea’s allure often comes from its toppings. The popular choice, bubble tea, made with chewy tapioca balls, is a delightful treat. However, these additions, especially if made from tapioca starch or sweetened with brown sugar syrup, can shorten the drink’s longevity. Leftover boba in your tea, for instance, may start to lose its signature chewiness after a few hours, making it less enjoyable. Therefore, if your milk tea includes these additions, aim to consume it within 1-3 hours, and be cautious of leaving it at room temperature for a long time. Once the tapioca pearls become refrigerated, they begin to hard significantly, so beware! 

Other popular toppings include grass jelly, coffee jelly, fruit jelly, popping boba, red bean, taro paste, and more. Keep in mind refrigerating any of these tasty additions can alter the texture and make it less enjoyable. 

A hand is pouring black berries into a wooden spoon.

Store-Bought Bottled Milk Tea

For those who prefer the convenience of store-bought bottled milk tea, the shelf life can vary. These commercially prepared beverages, often found in coffee shops or as part of sample kits in grocery stores across the United States, may contain preservatives that extend their shelf life. Always check the expiration date and follow storage conditions recommended by the business owner or manufacturer for the maximum amount of time of freshness.

Presence of Additives

In the world of plant-based milk teas, the presence of additives, whether it be fruit juices for a burst of flavor or non-dairy creamers for a creamy texture, can affect the drink’s shelf life. These ingredients may contain natural or artificial preservatives that can either prolong or shorten the lifespan of your beverage. As a tea lover, always be mindful of these factors when selecting your ingredients.

The Impact of Different Plant Milk and Tea Types

The choice of plant milk and the type of tea form the backbone of your milk tea experience. Non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk, are known for their longer shelf life, so a vegan bubble tea is a good option when considering shelf life. This can be beneficial for those who prefer to brew large batches of tea, like sun tea or sweet tea, for later enjoyment. Similarly, the type of tea can impact how well your milk tea preserves over time. Fragrant flora tea and fruit tea are the most delicate. Refreshing green tea can last a bit longer, whereas black tea and white tea keep fresh the best.  

A person pouring milk into a cup of bubble tea.

Significance of Proper Storage

Storing your bubble tea correctly is as vital as its preparation. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. A clean, airtight container is your best ally in preserving the freshness and flavor of your tea. Glass jars or bottles, for instance, are great choices for storing iced tea or regular tea, as they prevent flavor contamination and are a great sustainable option.

Mindfulness in Consumption

Adopting a sustainable lifestyle extends beyond the ingredients we choose; it’s about how we consume and store our food. Being mindful of the shelf life of our beverages, like the much-loved boba tea, is part of this journey. It’s not only about enjoying the unique taste and health benefits of these drinks but also about minimizing food waste and being conscious of our environmental impact.

Favorite Milk Tea Recipes

If you are looking for homemade milk tea recipes, I’ve got you covered.

  • Oolong Milk Tea Recipe: Savor the distinct, slightly floral notes of Oolong tea beautifully complemented by creamy oat milk for a vegan take on this elegant classic.
  • Classic Milk Tea: Enjoy the simple perfection of a classic milk tea made vegan, blending strong black tea with smooth oat milk for a timeless favorite.
  • Matcha Milk Tea: Dive into the vibrant world of matcha with this milk tea recipe, using rich oat milk to enhance the earthy, energizing flavors of pure Japanese matcha.
  • Brown Sugar Milk Tea: Indulge in the caramel-like sweetness of brown sugar, perfectly balanced with bold tea and creamy oat milk in this comforting vegan beverage.
  • Coffee Boba Recipe: For coffee lovers, this unique twist combines robust espresso with chewy tapioca pearls, complemented by a splash of oat milk for a delightful vegan treat.
  • Jasmine Milk Tea Recipe: Experience the delicate aroma of jasmine tea paired with the lightness of oat milk, creating a fragrant and soothing vegan milk tea.
  • Taro Milk Tea Recipe: Immerse yourself in the naturally sweet and nutty flavors of taro blended with creamy oat milk, creating a uniquely vibrant and satisfying vegan milk tea experience.
A variety of boba tea ingredients are arranged on a dark table.


How long does boba milk tea last in the fridge?

Boba milk tea, when made with plant-based milk, typically remains fresh in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days. However, the texture of the boba pearls may deteriorate after a few hours, so enjoying them soon after preparation is recommended for the best taste experience.

Can we drink 12-hour-old tea?

Yes, tea that has been properly stored in the fridge for 12 hours is generally safe to consume. For plant-based milk tea, ensure it has been kept in a sealed container in the fridge. Plain teas, such as oolong tea or loose tea leaves, can last longer, but always perform a quick smell and taste test to ensure quality.

Is it OK to drink yesterday’s tea?

Drinking yesterday’s tea is typically fine if it has been refrigerated and shows no signs of spoilage. Storing milk tea, or any beverage, for that matter, in an air-tight glass bottle can extend the shelf life considerably. 

Final Words

Navigating the shelf life of plant-based milk tea is more than a culinary concern; it’s part of a conscious and mindful approach to our food and environment. Whether you’re savoring a homemade brew or a store-bought favorite, understanding and respecting its shelf life ensures not just a delightful tasty experience. So, the next time you prepare or purchase a milk tea, remember these tips and enjoy each sip with the knowledge that you’re making choices that are good for both you and the planet.

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