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milkspoon said

Tea storage?

I’ve always had cheap bagged tea but now that I’m buying loose leaf, I need a way to store it. I’ve found that tea tins in tea shops are… very expensive? In both Aus and NZ tea shops I’ve found them to be $18-22 each and look like they’d hold about 50g. Are there cheaper tin options that just as airtight to preserve the tea in? Or online sources? Maybe I am looking in the wrong places.

Right now my tea is just in the foil bag it came in, with a ziploc seal. Even if that’s sufficient they’re narrow enough that it’s a pain to scoop the leaves out so I’m looking for a container. :-)

Forgive my super newbie questions!

145 Replies

First of all, no need to ask forgiveness… we were all newbies at one point.

Here is a site that offers some pretty reasonably priced tin options: http://www.specialtybottle.com/teatincontainersmi.aspx

Also, when you buy tea online, check to see if the purveyor you’re shopping with has tin options. Some do and some don’t, but usually I’ve found that if you purchase the tin with the tea, it’s much more reasonable … then you can simply reuse the tin once you’ve consumed the tea.

Wow, great selection, great prices. I’ll have to keep this place in mind myself, Thanks!

Annie said

I actually bought these and something to note – they are not air-tight, and after a few months I noticed my teas significantly lost their flavor and aroma.

That’s too bad. : (

Thank you for alerting us.

Dinosara said

Which ones did you buy? I have to say that I’ve had my tins from this company for months, and I haven’t noticed any decrease in my tea flavor or aroma. I have the tall square ones (TEAT4).

Annie said

I have several of the TWS4… You get what you pay for, I suppose!

Hannerz said

I have several of the TLAT6, and they at least seem to be great. I accidentally left a bag of jasmine tea near my unflavored oolongs, and some in my other containers got a tad jasminey, but those in the tins are still just fine. They have a pretty low-key seal inside the lid- dunno about the rectangular ones, but the round hook and bale ones seem great.
Shipping seems like a lot from that site, but with how low the prices are, it still works out to a good deal.
Was intending to get some of the smaller rectangular ones, but I guess I might not be, now.

Annie said

Right, their prices were so good I was very excited to have found them, but I really did notice a significant decrease in flavor in my ti kyuan yin, sencha and gyokuro. I’ve since ordered a few from ESP emporium (https://www.espemporium.com/p-536-tea-tin-glory.aspx) and hopefully they work better. These straight out claim to be airtight, and have some kind of plastic filter doo-dad in the cap part so they seem more legit. However when you put water in them and turn them upside down, water does leak out… indicating possible tracks for air to leak in? :/

Missy said

I have quite a few of the Tsw6 tins. I haven’t had a problem with them not being air tight.
They have lids much like Teavana’s tins. Except the plastic part is softer and always a good fit. Out of 22 tins every single one of these fits just as it should. Out of the Teavana tins 2 out 6 tins the lids fit either loose or too tight.

teataku said

I’m so glad that other people have heard of this website. One of my favorite things about this company is that they’re one of the few that don’t require you to buy in bulk. Yeah, so shipping is a little much, but when you consider that buying tins from them is cheaper than nearly everywhere else, even INCLUDING the cost of shipping, it’s worth it.

JC said

I bought 7 tins for me from this site and I had some from another shop. They were exactly the same but much more cheaper on specialty bottles. I ordered the Latch cover Tin and they work perfectly, even for white tea. I would like to hear about the glass ones in anyone ever buys those.

wheezybee said

As a Portland, OR native I have recycled tins from my Tao of Tea purchases. A bit of Goo-Gone and you have a double-sealed container to re-use. They also just sell the tins for $4.

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There is no easy solution… the link LiberTeas has above is about as good as it gets. Unfortunately their shipping fees cost about as much as their tins :(

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milkspoon said

Ahh boo. I did notice that the tea place near me (visiting friends in Sydney) sell their tins for only $5 when they have tea in them – when the same tins are $18 normally lol! So I might take advantage of this opportunity to stock up on some green tea, I only have cheap supermarket bags at home.

That website is super cheap, Liberteas! But it seems like they don’t ship outside Canada/US/Virgin Islands. I’ll definitely be ordering when I live in Canada, though.

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Azzrian said

So is it “okay” to keep them stored in the zipper bags they come in?

milkspoon said

I don’t know, I’d ask your tea supplier! Some are foil and well-sealed, and intended to hold the leaves for a long time before and after being sold. And some… are not :-)

Azzrian said

Thank you

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cteresa said

The essencial to keep tea in good conditions are (IMO):
- airproof. The more air, oxygen, the more it oxidizes and it ages the tea. A proper ziploc bag might keep that more effectively than a tin which is not hermetically sealed or which does not seal properly. Ziplocs IMo got an advantage here, unless it is a very special tin.
- keep it away from light, particularly sunlight. Light, particularly the UV part of the spectra can degrade everything. If you are keeping tea in a closed drawer or cabinet and only occasionally taking it out or having artificial light on it, I think it might not be a huge issue. Tins obviously got an advantage here over ziplocs.
-that there is no contaminating the taste, either the taste of the containment itself or of other things previously kept there. Do not reuse ziplocs but ziplocs should be safe enough for food containment! As long as not reused I think tins and ziplocs are tied.
- keep tea away from moisture or situations where moisture condensation can occur. Ziploc advantage I guess about moisture seeping in, ziploc disadvantage over moisture condensation being slightly more likely.
- keep tea away from extreme temperatures. I guess no advantage here, just do not store it in places like over the fridge or over ovens. Whatever you keep your tin in, keep it where you keep the tea in, try to keep it in a cool stable, dark place, which does not get too hot or too cold and preferrably with little temperature fluctuations.

Ziplocs seem fine to me, as long as you keep those in a dark place. I have some vintage tea tins i love but where i do not keep tea in because they do not seal well, or I am not sure what was kept there before, or because i am afraid of rust. Tins are not inherently always superior.

Azzrian said

Good info thank you.

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VeryPisces said

I bought some canisters at EnjoyingTea.com. They come in a handful of colors and hold about 4 oz each. They aren’t fancy, but I don’t need fancy right now.

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The tea tins I have I picked up at World Market locally. They had a couple different sizes (2 oz and 4 oz, if I remember right). So I got a selection of each. I can only find one on their site, but they’re still super cheap:


Good find! Wish they still had World Market out here in MN. Shipping is always an option, though. Thanks for the suggestion!

That is unfortunate! But this is especially worth the shipping since there’s a second, more airtight lid under the main one you can see. It’s ideal for storing tea longterm. :)

We just bought four of these, and I can’t say that I’m sold. Missy washed them after we got home, and two of them are already beginning to rust around the little plug-handle thing on the internal lid. Not sure if we just got two bad ones, or that one little seal is a weakness. And to be honest, I don’t think I looked at that little plug that closely when we were in the store (they may have already been rusting at that point).

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milkspoon said

Good info guys thanks! I currently have t2 square tins, I assume they are fairly airtight and tea-safe as they are from a tea store.. lol. I keep my matcha in the ziploc it came in though :) I imagine trying to clean matcha out of a tin is a nightmare

cteresa said

Not all stuff sold on tea shops is really always top quality and appropriate. it should, but not always.

By the way, I got an idea. There is a particular brand of baking powder that i buy which cames in really good reusable tins – not Royal baking powder which now got a plastic cover, but one where tin and tin top are all (ya know) tin and seals just right. it´s a supermarket own brand. The tins are not very large, but they are perfect to put 50 grams, which is what i always try to buy when trying something for the first time. After the baking powder is used, I wash them or steam them, wipe those and let them dry really well and there you have it. I go a little step further, I measure the height of the tin, cut a long strip of nice paper, and tape it so to wrap around it and put a label. I will show you


Angrboda said

Cteresa, that’s an awesome idea! Thank you!

I’ll have to keep an eye out if there’s something I use and just discard that can be reused similarly as well.

cteresa said

Mind you, I now only buy that brand of baking powder because I want the tins! But so far those were the only things I have found really apropriate, and just some of the cheaper brands. I love the size though, it is just right for 50 grams and it stacks up really well. I got too much tea (duh), tins stacking up nice and pretty and compactly is important for me!

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Honestly, a simple tin can that has a cap is good enough to hold loose leaf tea. Also, the foil bag with the zip pouch works as well as a tin can.

Both methods would preserve the life of the tea for about a year.

Angrboda said

Yes, this. Sometimes a simple tin seems to be twice as expensive just for having the tea vendors name and logo on it. It shouldn’t be difficult to find equivalent cheap tins elsewhere. Some shops even sell their tea WITH a tin by default. Keep the tin; if washed and dried carefully, it can be used again and again.

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kminer42 said

I’m a novice so I’m still in the pre-bagged tea stage. However as I get more educated I’d like to try the loose-leaf teas. I curious why glass jars don’t seem to be mentioned? It seems that if your tea is in a cabinet or closet with a door, for light protection, why aren’t glass jelly jars more popular? Ball jars come in different sizes from 4 oz up to (I think) 12 oz. and you can get the white plastic screw on lids for them. I seems like they would be easy to clean, wouldn’t hold odors, air-tight and their wide mouth would make them easy to scoop from. I think they come out to about a dollar apiece. What are the down sides to glass?

SimplyJenW said

The downside is just the light issue. If it is kept in a dark cupboard except for when you are making tea, I think it would be fine. You could also make some kind of sleeve for them if you were worried about the amount of light they are exposed to.

Good question, kminer42. I was thinking of bringing this up myself, so now your question pushed me over the edge of hesitation … As SimplyJenW mentioned, the only concern with using glass jars to store tea is light (at least it’s the only one that I am aware of). I keep almost all of my jars in a dark cupboard on a shelf just below the light, such that no light directly hits the jars (I assume indirect light is not a major concern, at least not for short periods of time). One book on tea (The Tea Enthusiast Handbook, I think) mentions watching out for tea retailers that sell tea stored right under bright lights. So it is a concern.

Much of my tea is stored in glass jars, for a number of reasons. One being that I love to reuse things, and we go through all kinds of different jars throughout the year. The second being that I love seeing the tea. I am a very visual person, so for me a big part of the joy of Tea is the visual aspect. If it’s in tins, I will only see the dried tea for a few moments right before I brew it up, and if it’s an especially beautiful looking tea—as many green Teas are—that won’t fly with me!

So, if you love seeing the tea, and you have a dark place to store it in, then I say, jar away! : )

kminer42 said

Thanks for the help. I think I will see how jars work.

Great! For me, the biggest issue with jars is how to get the smell out of the lid. I have spent TONS of time trying to figure out the best way, but in short here are a few things I have learned:

1) The best jars seem to be the ones with peanut butter, jelly, and the like (I even had one cheese sauce jar lid that I think was easy to purge the smell from). Trader Joe’s have these smallish jars that they sell things like pumpkin butter in, and I love to use those for two ounces of tea, as they seem to be the perfect size. I have also used their peanut butter jars for four ounces of tea. The worst jars seem to be things that have a very strong odor (big surprise, right?), like salsa, pickles, Jalapenos, and spaghetti sauce jars—I think in large part because of the garlic.

2) A few ways to remove the order from the lids: A) soak for a few days in vinegar, OR baking soda and water, OR both, B) soak in hydrogen peroxide (this seems to mainly remove any color, and it can lightly burn the skin, so use with care), C) put in direct sunlight for as long as you can, and I am talking weeks, if possible, D) scrub with a mild soap, and water. E) put old tea (mostly dried out), or old newspaper in the jar with the lid, and leave it for weeks, or even months, thus letting the tea/paper soak up any odor left in the lid, F) put water in it and freeze it for a few days, then remove from freezer and pop out the ice (and hopefully, the smell), G) simply soak in water, for a many days as you can, changing the water every couple of days or so.

I usually do some combination of A, B, C and D. I have tried E, F, and G but I am not certain of the results. I am confident that direct sunlight does the best job, but it takes time to get the smell out (weeks, if not longer).

If anyone else has anything to share regarding how to get the smell out of lids, I would love to hear it.

If you (or anyone else) would like more details, respond here and I would be happy to share more about my failures and success with it. : )

cteresa said

Simplicitea I think you got covered almost all methods. Just another suggestion – steam is IMo pretty good as well at bringing out the smells. Or boiling water if feasible. Put boiling water in a jar (the jar probably) and cover with the lid and let it stand.

SimplyJenW said

Sometimes you can buy things like spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce from a company that packages in canning jars (look for a tallish threading on the jar). I am in the States, and I sometimes buy Classico brand sauces. Their jars fit a standard Ball canning jar lid. I worry about flavor transfer, so a new lid fixes the problem for not much money (I even had the canning jar lids in storage). I guess I am not as persistent in trying to get the smells out of the original lids….

cteresa: I’ll have to try the boiling method sometime. Thanks.

SimplyJenW: I’ll have to look into that. I was wondering if I could find an ordinary jar that we use such that we could keep the jar and then simply buy the replacement lid tops by Ball that would fit it (without having to buy the actual jars). We sometimes buy those Classico brand spaghetti sauces. For me, my decision to reuse the jars is more of an environmental decision—along with the fun and challenge of reusing things I already have—than it is about spending money on new jars (for example I recently passed on an opportunity to get 12 large Ball jars w/lids for less than $10). I know my grocery store sells the lids only (they may be like $4 for a dozen), and that’s much less waste than buying a dozen jars I don’t really need. That’s much easier that going to all of that trouble of getting the smell out, if, they fit, that is. I guess you are talking about the Classico jars that have the rims that screw off and aren’t attached to the actual top (I don’t know what that’s called, but I guess they’re called are canning jar lids)? Otherwise, it wouldn’t work, for the replacement lids I am thinking of have the top only. Thanks for the info.

SimplyJenW said

Yep, you need the lids and the screw on rims if you get the metal ones. Classico packages with an Atlas canning jar (as long as the threading on the lid looks about 3/4 inch rather than the really short threading that is about 1/4 inch). The lid is metal and 1 piece, but I replace it with a Ball canning lid and rim because that is what I have on hand. I agree it is always good to reuse when you can! Mine are Ball standard size rims and tops. The wide mouth ones do not fit. I have seen really nice plastic lids that are just a little more than the metal ones and one piece. I will eventually probably try those. Just be sure to get standard size.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: In my research on these jars…the manufacturer states that they are not thick enough to be used for canning. But they are perfect for dry good storage, which includes tea!

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