Will Tea Explode In the Freezer? Shattering the Lore

August 5, 2022

Tea can cause its container to burst in the freezer, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The possibility of an explosion has more to do with the container than the tea!

I know that many people are a fan of iced tea and are often looking for a shortcut. Thus, it is only natural to want to know will tea explode in the freezer? The answer will surprise you.

In this post I tackle why tea may burst in the freezer as well as how to stop it from happening in the first place. Let’s get started!

girl checking inside the fridge

What Happens If You Put Tea in the Freezer?

If you have ever put a can of soda or similar drink in the freezer, then the result may have been an exploded drink. Therefore, you are going to want to know if the same thing will happen if you put tea in the freezer as well.

In reality, it is unlikely that frozen tea will have such a dramatic impact. Sure, it may cause the container that it is in to crack, but it is rare that it will be a full-blown explosion.

First, you have to understand why this takes place.

As you are well aware, tea is essentially just flavored water. Well, when water is first cooled, it does contract, taking up less space in its container. However, once the temperature drops below 4°C, the opposite reaction occurs and the liquid begins to expand.

Now, if the liquid has enough room to expand, then this isn’t really an issue. It will take up more room in the container, but there will be no explosion.

On the other hand, if the tea is filled to the brim of the container, then the force of the expansion can cause the container to burst. The same thing can happen if the container is made of a delicate and inflexible material such as glass.

Can I Put Hot Tea in a Freezer?

Fine, what about if you put very hot tea in the freezer – would it still expand and cause a burst container then?

Yes, you can probably expect the same result. Understand, when you put a hot liquid into the freezer, all you are really doing is lowering the surrounding temperature. Then, the freezer has to work even harder to get the original temperature back.

Eventually, though, your tea will get to the point where it freezes to the point of expansion. The only difference is that this process will take longer than with lukewarm or cooled tea.

peppermint tea cup

How to Prevent Tea from Bursting in the Freezer

Here are some tips and tricks that you can use to stop this process from occurring:

Use Appropriate Materials

It is a good idea to always consider whether a particular material is suitable for the freezer. Only some plastic and glass containers can’t withstand these temperatures without bursting. You can save yourself a great deal of trouble if you check on this beforehand.

Another thing to consider is the thickness of the material as well. Containers made of thin plastic or glass will crack rather easily. Thicker surfaces are better equipped to withstand the pressure, though.

Avoid Containers with Curved Surfaces

Curved surfaces are more likely to crack. Not only do they restrict expansion, but the curved portions are often thinner as well. You will be better served by a wide mouth, straight walled jar or container – much like a Mason jar.

Don’t Fill the Container to the Brim

When the liquid has enough of room to expand, there are usually no issues. Due to this, make sure that there is plenty of space between the top of the container and the highest level of the tea. Therefore, the liquid can expand without repercussions.

Allow the Liquid to Cool Down

Glass doesn’t really hold up well to switching between extreme temperatures. Therefore, if you pour very hot tea in it and then follow this up by placing it in the freezer, the glass will crack. Let the liquid cool to room temperature before placing it in the freezer.

Don’t Tighten the Lid Right Away

Pressure can be created during the expansion process. It is important to ensure that this pressure has a place to dissipate – keeping the lid off the container ensures this. Once the tea is frozen, then you can tighten the lid.

Tea may not explode in the freezer, but it can still cause quite a mess. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by using the tips and the tricks above. Make sure to use them if you plan on freezing tea in the future.

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About the Author
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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