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Best Tea Storage Material (Bring your Facts and Opinions!)

Hey Everyone,

There are basically five materials which are used to store tea:

1) Steel-Tin & Stainless Steel: These are the typical “tins” you see (like with Hugo Tea Tins), but also with most “bulk” tins that you can buy to store large quantities of tea.

2) Paper and Cardstock: In Asia, many high-end teas are packed for sale in thick paper tubes.

3) Plastic: The vast majority of tea is packed in plastic (even if it doesn’t seem like it). All of the zip-lock pouches and individual foil bags that you’ve seen are actually coated on the inside with a plastic film. Try tearing or cutting one of your old bags and you’ll see that the plastic peels away from the foil liner.

4) Glass: We did recently see tea in-store being sold in hermetic glass jars. It looked pretty—but it didn’t make sense because light destroys tea.

5) Aluminum: This is the kicker. Has anyone ever seen tea stored in aluminum? We certainly haven’t. There are after-market hermetic aluminum jars that can be bought, but we’ve never used one. Have you?

Which is best? Which keeps tea the best?
Has anyone ever used an aluminum storage vessel?

54 Replies

I mostly use mason jars. I spray paint the outside of the jar so that light doesn’t get through, and then I use chalkboard paint and a stencil to create a label on the jar. The jars are easy to use and refill, and glass doesn’t hold odors the way some materials can. This makes swapping out teas nice and easy, too. Also, they’re cute!

TeaLover58 said

Do you by any chance have a picture of how this turned out? I was thinking about using mason jars, but I didn’t want to because I know light is bad for tea. Never thought of spray painting.

I don’t have a picture of my jars, but this is the article I looked at before spray painting my jars:http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/959593/diy-painted-mason-jars-wine-bottles . The most important thing is to point the can down a bit so the air bubbles are forced to the bottom of the jar and will drip off.

I’ll try to get pictures of my jars this weekend and post them.

Also, I have no idea how to make the link look pretty. Sorry. :/

TeaLover58 said

That’s so cute!

This might be kicking at an old thread, but I just stumbled across this website, as I am a newer tea drinker and looking for advice. I had asked my family to get me teas for the holidays, and now I have found myself with over 20 different teas yet only 8 tea tins (6 from a set – 3oz metal, 2 from World Market – http://www.worldmarket.com/product/nora+tea+tin.do?&from=Search). The ones not in tins are still in the pre-packaged zip lock bags.

Being a college student, I need something that doesn’t take up a lot of space, can be re-used, and possibly stackable. I would really like to be able to try all of the teas, but don’t want them to go stale before I can find a home for them.

I have been researching Mason Jars and thought those would be the best options apart from the lighting issue. I figured painting them would be the easiest fix and using chalkboard or marker board paint to make switching teas a lot easier. As far as being able to see how much tea is remaining without opening the jar, I found that leaving a small strip when painting is the best solution.

My question for you, Veronica, seeing as you have tested my idea out already: which Mason Jars are the best to buy? I understand how relatively cheap they are, and that they come in bulk; but there are a ton of different styles and I am clueless.

For now, I think I would only need 8oz jars at most because I am still in the stage of finding my favorite teas; so the amount I will have at any given time is usually under 4 ounces.

Do you have any style jars that you would recommend? Any tips when painting the jars apart from painting downward?

I tend to use whatever I have on hand or what I find at yard sales. I do like the wide mouth jars more than the narrow tops because it’s easier to get the tea out without crushing it, especially when there isn’t much left in the jar.

I think my biggest painting tip would be give yourself time. Painting always takes longer than I think it will, and I’m incredibly impatient when it comes to waiting for the jars to dry. Also, if you use chalkboard paint use a good stencil and make sure it’s taped down well before applying the cb paint. It makes the jars look soooo much nicer. A friend of mine used cb paint on the lids rather than the side of the jar, and that looked really cute, too. If you’ll be storing the jars in a drawer or a bin that might be a better option.

Would something like this be a good place to start:
http://www.amazon.com/Ball%C2%AE-Regular-Bands—Jarden-Brands/dp/B004YVOS0Y/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1364836814&sr=8-3&keywords=wide+mouth+mason+jars+16+oz ?

And as far as CB paint brands or types, just whatever I can find, or do you have a go to one? Ideally I will make a dozen of them at once and be set for awhile.

EDIT:

Looking into it more, the lids are intended for a “one time use” – does this cause an issue reusing the lids or do you buy the plastic lids with it?

Ball jars are great. The lids are only meant to be used once if you are canning with them and need to create a seal on the jar. Since you’ll only be using them for storage they’ll be fine to use and reuse. I use the metal lids all the time.

I’m not sure what brand cb paint I used. I think it was the only one my craft store had in stock at the time. :)

Let me know how your jars turn out!

Awesome! Thank you for all the info, I greatly appreciate it. This is a nifty little site and I really like the tea log portion because I can link it to someone and say ‘hey – this is what I like and don’t like.’

I found out my mom has CB paint back home so it’ll save me a little money there and I’m gonna try to get jars this week. Hopefully it’ll be done this weekend or for sure the following. I might just paint the lids or the entire jars (including lid) with CB paint. Fun project ahead with pictures to come!

Have a great week!

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I love the idea of the chalkboard paint! I mostly use mason jars as well. I keep the mason jars in a dark Sterilite container to keep the jars out of direct light. This has worked fairly well for me so far!

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WtFGoD said

i dont think the actual material matters as long as it doesnt impact the taste of the tea in some way. as long as the material is used in a way that makes the storage area airtight and light free

paper may not work well as air could more easily move through it than the other materials.

in theory the best(long term) may be some type of container that you can remove the air from, something like the food vacuums that remove air from plastic bags. im pretty sure ive seen an infomercial with clear plastic containers that work like this.

i would imagine the type of seal used is far more important. ie: ziptie, ziplock bag,silicone grommet, tight fit between lid.

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cteresa said

Not sure what you mean by aluminum tin, not sure I have ever seen one. I have seen, and own, tons of metallic containers but not sure if any were aluminum based. I have seen silver tea containers or silver plated which are OMg beautiful but a stupid waste of money as well, also because they tarnish oh so fast. But never aluminum. Dunno if I would want, you know how we can often detect a metallic taste when a drink is from an aluminum can? I would be afraid of that.

No to glass, just no. Applying anything within might affect the taste of the tea anyway and glass is breakable and heavy, and to seal tight you would need one of those sealing rubber rings which degrade with time and are not easy to recycle. If you want to go ridiculously high end, porcelain containers (with plastic rings) would be better. or lacquer though wow that would be ridiculously pricy.

Paper containers I have seen, yes from asian brands, and meh. I like the weight and that they are not breakable and how pretty they can be, but they do not call upon collector´s must have instincts, are impossible to reuse, and they are susceptible to moisture.

I am pretty fond of opaque plastic ziplocs. Can´t be beat for convenience. And they can be even pretty is sellers costumize them. Light, convenient, light and moisture tight, easy to store, cheap, cheap to ship. Sorry, not an exciting answer but plastic often really is best.

Regular metal, steel tins are my other favorites. I love how durable they are, how re-usable they are, I got major collecting instincts, and it is very appealing to me. I have bought and will again buy tea because of the tin – even worse, willingly buy mediocre tin (depending on price) to get the tin. Not sure how many other tea lovers got that same problem as well, but am not alone! I am sort of a snob though, I might like very much paper wrapped tins (like TWG or Mariage Frères new dessert series) or tins customized with stickers, but they do not cause the same collecting instinct as enamelled (? printed on the metal) tins. And yes, sealing matters! I like best tins which have an interior seal, though that is rare to find and its lack is not a deal killer!

darby select said

I thought I was alone…buying tea for the tin! I do that with wine also and come across some really good ones that way. It’s all about the packaging for me!

cteresa said

I think a lot of tea lovers also love tea tins! I try to not indulge on buying stuff for the tin. But sometimes it´s impossible to resist. I want a Kusmi tin for example, but have not really loved one of their teas yet, and well, there are a few other examples.

I am starting to experiment customizing other tins more to my taste using papers, it´s fun!

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cuppaT said

Unless the tea comes in its own tin I also use mason jars, painted black. These come in several sizes, are relatively inexpensive by the case and easily obtainable during canning season. I use the plastic wide-mouth storage lids that are made for the quart size, and for the smaller sizes I glue the metal lids to the rings. Labels go on the lids, and I’m in the process of tying on colored beads to indicate general tea groups (green, black, etc.) Air-tight, light-tight, rustproof, and they don’t retain the odor of the Lapsang Souchong you previously had stored in there.

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Uniquity said

Many of my teas are in the metal tins from Davids, but I also have a sizable collection in various opaque bags. I don’t use any glass jars and I tend to prefer the tins but the sizing isn’t always practical for storage, etc. For the last year or so I have been buying tea in much smaller amounts and only re-stocking the great stuff so I’ve ended up with a lot of odds and ends.

I find the tins best for freshness so far but I must confess I don’t know what metal they are made of! I’ve seen some nice looking porcelain containers for tea, but I assume they wouldn’t be as effective for freshness as they’re unlikely to seal tight.

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I use Asian style tea tins almost exclusively for loose leaf.(metal, washi paper etc) I grew up with tea still commonly found in these, and learned to just reuse them as I ran out of tea. Now that I am coming back to loose leaf as the cornerstone type of tea in my life, I will be doing this and buying others “new” to use. In time I will use these for any loose leaf tea in my permanent stash that does not come in a branded tin.
I will also be getting some smaller washi tins I found finally, mainly for black teas, which I use much less of then other types.

examples:
empty new tin: http://www.amazon.com/Hanagoyomi-Japanese-Green-Tea-Blue/dp/B007D0510O/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1354938239&sr=8-7&keywords=washi+paper+tea+tin

Tin + Tea: http://www.amazon.com/Tea-Alishan-Mountain-Selection-Criteria-Beautiful/dp/B003QLGQBW/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1354938300&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=award+oolong

I am considering the merits of continuing to use the hard cardstock. I had a tea just arrive in that, and recently noted some tea I was interested in was packaged in this.

Not having access to my tins, or loose leaf tea has hampered my Tea habit for many years now. Glad this changed recently.

Uniquity said

Very pretty! I’m starting to get envious of all the pretty tins I don’t own. Ah!

Wow, the Hanagoyomi tin is so pretty! A whole shelf of those would be lovely to see.

yes, and they come in different colors, prints, etc.

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mrmopar said

the Hanagoyomi are great i have about 40 of them( got a good wholesale lot).found them on ebay for about $1.50 each.

wow. the lowest price I can find right now is 7.50 and that is for the decorated metal, no paper.

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mrmopar said

a lucky find. i checked back and the seller is gone now.

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Donna A said

I have various metal tea tins from different companies. I have filled some with water, and have noticed small amounts of water leaking through the seams at the sides and bottoms. The only one I have found so far to be leak proof is a metal Asian style double-lidded covered with washi paper, maybe because the paper covers the seams. So for super airtight, I think these are the best. The washi are so expensive, which is why I have bought some regular tins from David’s, and other places. My thought is if water leaks out, air can leak in. If the tea is packed in a tight-sealing bag when it comes from the company, I just keep it in that. For my tins that leak, I put the tea in a ziplock baggie, then inside the tin, for a little extra protection. Maybe that is overkill, but air and light are definitely enemies of tea. And I have noticed that I can smell tea through the ziplock bag, even when tightly sealed! mrmopar, you really got a deal-I would like to have all paper covered tins!

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