How To Organize Tea
Hello Steepster! I am new to this hobby and as such have many n00b questions. A big one I have right now is- how do you organize your physical tea collection. I have a ton of pouches, samples, and boxes just thrown in cupboards and on counters and tables. Any suggestions on how to get organized? I live in an apartment so space is very limited. Just looking for some feedback! Thanks!
I live in an absolutely tiny apartment and have my huge tea collection split up into multiple places, but it is at least organized, because my librarian self couldn’t handle it otherwise.
My friend put a small shelving unit in my living room where a bulk of my collection is stored. All my pouches of tea are stored on the shelves in alphabetical order by tea type, so the pure blacks are in alphabetical order, pure greens, pure oolongs, etc. Then the blended/flavored blacks, flavored greens, flavored oolongs, flavored chais… They all go in a certain order so I know where to find everything.
In the kitchen I have one cupboard where all the rooibos/herbals are, again in alphabetical rows. All my small samplers are in kitchen drawers by tea type (one for blacks, one for greens/whites, one for herbals, etc.) One cupboard has a spot for boxed grocery store teas which sits next to my mugs. I have one shelving unit in my bedroom where my 52Teas and Bird and Blend pouches got moved when I completely ran out of space, but I’m hoping those things will eventually get to be moved back with the main collection when I finally free up space again. I’m doing a huge sipdown project this year trying to free space in this sad apartment from the tea shelving/cupboards again!
All of my tea preparation occurs at the desk in my bedroom so my tea storage is incorporated into that setting. I think my bedroom is 9’X10’ so it’s a pretty small space.
I have a small 4-drawer unit I keep under my desk — 1 drawer each for puerh sample bags, black/white/green, oolong and herbals/tisanes. Anything non-puerh 25g or over or purchases from the bulk tea at the co-op get put into mason jars, spice jars or old tea tins and labelled with tea/company/harvest. It’s pretty dark in my room so I’m not concerned about too much light passing through the clear jars.
On top of the desk are the kettle, a lamp, a thrifted ‘tea tray’ and accessories, 7 puerh storage containers made of ceramic, stoneware, clay, pewter and wood that are used to house full and broken up cakes of sheng and shou puerh, loose-leaf puerh and white tea cakes
Then I’ve got 2-9″×24″ shelves on the wall above my desk. One for teaware and the other for my scale, tea notebook and new fountain pen (Thanks, Mom :P) and various books.
Somehow there’s still plenty of space to do work and have a laptop open. I’d be happy to post a picture if that would give you a better idea of how small my tea storage/preparation space is and how it is organized.
My hoard of supplies takes up pretty much all the space in my room; I’ll send you some photos privately on Slack to help you visualize.
Basically, though, I have an entire bookshelf for infuser mugs/gaiwans/teacups/other teaware, then the top surface of two dressers for more infuser mugs/teapots/gaiwans/teacups, a desk that has tea trays on it (and a few “mega tins” of my favourite teas from DT), and an end table that also has all different kinds of teaware on top, plus some agave. All my travel mugs are basically shoved into two desk drawers. Then there’s some teaware that doesn’t get used frequently on the upper shelf in my closet, and some more on the window ledge. Basically, it’s on every surface in my room…
For the tea itself, I have a small three drawer ‘cubby’ with each drawer holding a different type of tea (flavoured herbal/rooibos, straight black, and straight green respectively). On top of this cubby are excess tins of herbal/rooibos that don’t fit in the place I normally store them. Then, all heicha/pu’erh cakes or cakes of other varieties are in the remainder of my desk drawers. I have a separate, small plastic container that houses straight white tea samples.
In my end table I have a drawer with coffee leaf teas, bagged teas, and flavoured honey/agave, as well as a drawer with purple tea, yellow tea, sheng pu’erh samples, and tins of mate/guayusa/yaupon blends and then a couple oddball sample bags of the same types of tea.
In the big dresser, I have a two “half” drawers. The first just has more teaware and smaller tea accessories in it. the second is matcha and matcha related teaware. Then there’s four big drawers. The first has tins of white tea and green tea, and a small box of flavoured white/green samples. The second is herbal tea and rooibos tins. Third is tins of black tea, and a small box with flavoured black, pu’erh, and oolong samples. Fourth drawer has tins of oolong tea and shou pu’erh, and two small boxes that contain, respectively, straight shou and straight oolong samples.
Then in my kitchen I have a few “tea soups” in the pantry, and all my cold brewing equipment in the fridge. The kettle also lives in the kitchen, though when I’m brewing Gong Fu sometimes I relocate it to my desk.
I need more bookshelves (and maybe a pumidor) in 2019…
I’d love to sort alphabetically like Mastress Alita but I don’t think that would work with my 600+ teas, unfortunately.
Wow, thanks guys. I really think a small pull out drawer system might work. I do have drawers I’m not using right now, but the problem is they are in the same unit as drawers I AM using for incense and the smell from the incense would likely pollute the tea. That Incense drawer is really potent, I can smell it every time I walk by. So I will likely need to find a drawer I can empty, preferably near the kitchen, that has no pre-formed odor to it. I have something in mind. Will keep informed. Thanks for all your suggestions.
Yes, I cleared out a drawer in my bedroom dresser, but it had previously stored bath products, so it had the “preformed smell” problem you are describing and I knew I couldn’t use it for tea. So I put a bunch of my old art supplies and such in it, then the drawers that had the art supplies in them I used for tea. They were a smaller set of drawers, but at least they weren’t smelly!
I managed to clear one small drawer out. It just had a bunch of old bottles in it of stuff. No real smell or residue. It really is only big enough for some of my samples though. I think I will try to see how many I can fit in there without having trouble opening the drawer.
I just moved into a brand new house, so I have the luxury of having a little “tea nook” area opposite the pantry, which has a short length of counter with double-door cupboards above and below it. It was one of the features of the floorplan we chose that had me the most excited!
So I use the top cupboard for my teaware, and the bottom for the majority of my tea stash. I do have all of my swaps and sample sizes on the counter and in one of the drawers currently, which I’m okay with since those won’t be as permanent of fixtures in my stash! The second drawer has smaller tea accessories like spoons and strainer, and my small matcha collection.