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Tea Time: The Best Ways to Store and Organize Tea

There are a lot of fall activities and flavors that I can take or leave, but one thing I get excited about when the summer heat subsides is tea. On a cool, rainy afternoon, drinking a hot cup of tea is wonderfully cozy. (I think I just realized why tea is so popular in the British Isles.) My growing tea collection was a mess until I figured out the best way to store tea. If you're a fellow tea-lover with an unruly stack of boxes and tins of tea, here are some guidelines and ideas for how to keep your tea organized.

A cup of tea

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Tea Storage Guidelines

First, let's go over the basics of how to store tea. The enemies of tea are light, heat, moisture, and oxygen. So that means the best place to store your tea is cool, dry, dark, and airtight. The airtight part might not be a concern if your teabags are individually-sealed, but it's important for loose-leaf tea. Fortunately many teas come in their own airtight tins or resealable bags. 

Even if you aren't storing your bagged tea in an airtight container, you at least want to try to keep it away from strong smells. Nothing would ruin a good cup of tea than having it taste like the garlic and onions you cooked up last night for dinner.

Also, it won't keep forever. Tea does degrade in quality over time, so if you haven't touched that tea you don't especially enjoy in months or years, it is unlikely to have improved in flavor. Go ahead and toss it out!

Tea Organization

I have to admit that while I love a nice cup of tea, I'm not a tea snob, and I like to try different kinds. Before I figured out my tea storage, I had a large collection of boxes of tea stacked on top and in front of one another in a cabinet, and I had to shuffle them around to get to the ones in the back. 

My life improved when I discovered that the best way to store tea is in a drawer! With a drawer, there's no perilous stacking, shuffling, or reaching on tip-toes to get to that tin on the top shelf in the back. Everything is flat in front of you, easy to see and access. And maybe I'm the only weirdo who feels this way, but there's something strangely satisfying about neatly fitting all of your tea and tea-making accessories in a drawer.

Once you have a drawer picked out, the first choice you need to make is whether you want to keep your teas in their boxes, or take them out and only store the packets. If you're taking the tea out of the boxes, you'll need drawer organizers. Cutlery/silverware organizers often fit tea bags perfectly, or you can use something like these adjustable slotted drawer organizers to make custom-sized tea compartments in your drawer. 

Organized tea drawer
Impressive tea organization from a reviewer of The Container Store's slotted drawer organizers

The other option, and the one I chose, involves Tetris-ing your boxes and tins into a drawer. You can also combine the two approaches, keeping some teas in the containers they came in, and sorting individual tea bags. 

An organized tea drawer
Photo: Rachel Jacks

I also like to keep my tea-making tools and accessories in my tea drawer, so mine contains a matcha whisk, timer, strainers, a measuring spoon, and soy sauce dishes, which make perfect tiny plates for spent tea bags. My electric kettle is on the countertop above the drawer, and my mugs in the cupboard above, so everything I need for a cup of tea is all in one place. In general I consider myself "organizationally-challenged," so my organized tea drawer makes my daily cups of tea even more satisfying.  

Fellow tea-fans, how do you organize your tea? 

The best ways to organize and store tea

 

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