Better Tea Storage
September 2, 2012 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Lately, I've been into tea and more interested in trying new varieties than waiting to finish off the old stuff. I don't really have any teas I want to throw away. What's the best way to store a bunch of small containers of loose tea in a space efficient and aesthetically pleasing way?

I'm thinking I might repackage them in small tins (if I can find a good merchant for them, I don't have a Container Store near me AFAICT) or half or quarter pint Mason jars (I have a few around). I would keep the Mason jars in a dark place, of course.

I don't want those tins loose in the pantry, though, if possible. I kind of like the idea of something similar to a Masala Dabba box, but I'm worried it would let the flavors mix with each other. Plus, it's round and a square thing would fit better in the pantry. Spice carousels look good, too, but the containers look awfully small.

I think I might have a total of 6-9 varieties of tea, all in pouches as sold by Wegman's and Adagio and in quantities under 5 ounces. I know pouches aren't ideal storage. Also, they are a mess to store because they fall over and slide on top of each other and are really big and flat for a few ounces of tea.
posted by mccarty.tim to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Our kitchen has a built-in wine rack. We're not big wine drinkers, so the wine rack is full of tea.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:05 AM on September 2, 2012

Well, you could go the classic route and buy a compartmented tea chest. Most of the less expensive and widely available chests are intended for tea bags - the compartments don't have individual lids. Here's one that does. Pricey though. But there'll be more (and in stock) than my quick search showed. (If you really want to toss money at this, you could get a beautiful antique one with-lock-to-keep-the-servants-out, though I think I've only seen them with a max of three compartments; most have one or two.)
posted by likeso at 4:19 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Some beautiful tea chests via google images.)
posted by likeso at 4:25 AM on September 2, 2012

Baby food jars inside of mason jars.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:33 AM on September 2, 2012

I have a large (I believe Tupperware brand) container used for storing cereal from the 70s/80s, and all my miscellaneous teas went into heavy-duty Ziploc bags which I labeled with the brand and flavor, then put in said Tupperware. I keep it in my pantry on a shelf.
However, that's definitely not aesthetically pleasing. I'm thinking Pinterest may have some ideas for tea storage. And I'm assuming you could find ideas for fixing Mason jars/baby food jars to where you could keep them anywhere without harming the tea.
posted by PeppahCat at 5:11 AM on September 2, 2012

Some tins like this? I got a sampler set from Adagio once and the teas were all in separate tins, like this only square. I use those tins for spices now but they are a little small.
posted by BibiRose at 5:54 AM on September 2, 2012

Square-sided metal tins perhaps offer a better way to store them together. Something like this, perhaps?

(I'm now in love with these handmade tins... but not $140 worth of love.)
posted by holgate at 6:37 AM on September 2, 2012

The IKEA TRIPP tins also fit the bill, and aren't too expensive.
posted by holgate at 6:41 AM on September 2, 2012

Spice jars or tins + pretty labels = aesthetically pleasing. The TRIPP tins above would be perfect, and I bet you could even stack them one on top of another which would be additionally aesthetic and also save space.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 AM on September 2, 2012

I would recommend against clear jars or tins with clear lid, because light is bad for tea longevity. To be fair, I have not tested this scientifically, and the main concern is UV, so glass would be better than plastic in that regard. I don't know what part of the UV spectrum is blocked by, say, a Mason jar, though. I imagine that it would be okay if you're storing the tea in a dark place.

I store my tea in the opaque ziplock bags that my favorite merchants ( and sell their teas in, because they're designed to keep the tea fresh. I keep the bags in a wicker basket at work, and in a cd-sized plastic bin (w/o the lid) at home. I can't say that either is very attractive, but it does contain the clutter somewhat.

Adagio does sell cute tins but unfortunately they don't stack well, and they don't seem to sell their 2 oz square tins (which do stack, albeit a bit precariously.) My solution to your problem would be to buy a whole bunch of Adagio samplers to get and reuse the 2 oz. tins, but then I'll take any excuse to buy tea. ;)

TeaSource has more plain-Jane tins and theirs do stack nicely. They also sell their ziplocks, if you want to go that route.
posted by BrashTech at 6:54 AM on September 2, 2012

I've got about 20 of the Adagio sampler tines that I reuse.
posted by COD at 7:04 AM on September 2, 2012

As for stackability, the Twinings 100g tins are pretty good in that regard (especially with their variety of colours) though that does mean buying even more tea...

(Just as a note: tea isn't very dense, so 5oz can translate into about half a litre / ~2 US cups in volume, especially if it's a whole leaf as opposed to a BOP or CTC.)
posted by holgate at 7:27 AM on September 2, 2012

My favorite place to look for cheap containers is American Science & Surplus.

Check out their container section. Right now they have a few tins with clear lids that should work well for tea. Their stock rotates pretty quickly so if you like it today, you should buy it today.

I have a few pouches of loose tea in a repurposed CD container in my spice cabinet. It's not particularly attractive, and probably could be doing better by my tea.
posted by fontophilic at 8:04 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I was going to suggest looking at American Science & Surplus' jar selection, actually. There are a lot that wouldn't suit your purpose (skinny necks!), but definitely quite a few that would (little plastic tubs!).
posted by limeonaire at 9:09 AM on September 2, 2012

Specialty Bottle tells food safe tins that stack nicely and come in many sizes. They are also much cheaper than most places.
posted by Requiax at 10:15 AM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

If I could multi-fave Requiax's link, I would. Bookmarked for future use. They have tea-specific sizes, too, with one that looks exactly like the Twinings 100g tins.
posted by holgate at 10:40 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I keep my loose leafs in labelled sandwich bags in square Tupperwares. They're organized by tea type (herbal, mate, black, green, and rooibos) and there's no flavor bleed over.
posted by spunweb at 12:56 PM on September 2, 2012

Penzey's sells little glass screw-top jars.
posted by lakeroon at 1:20 PM on September 2, 2012

Thirding Requiax's Specialty Bottle recommendation. I like the tea tins for loose leaf tea, and the clear top square tin containers for spices. I've been very happy with both, and their prices are great.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:52 PM on September 2, 2012

Specialty Bottle looks great!

I decided I'll put them in square tins for stackability, and I'll use neatly written names of the tea in Sharpie on the sides of the tins for labeling, which can be cleaned off later with rubbing alcohol.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:07 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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