This Pro Organizer’s “Golden Rule” Forever Changed How I Store Tea

published Mar 7, 2024
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As a Certified Tea Specialist, I have a lot of tea. Some are loose-leaf, some are bagged, some are powdered; I have leftover bags from tea classes I took, and remainders of selections I love but am rationing out so I don’t have to buy more right away. And until last night, it was all stuffed into two bins in a jumbled mess on my countertop, alongside my steeping tools, my AeroGardens, and a smattering of cords for different small appliances. After the umpteenth time of moving a bunch of stuff out of the way to access my tea, I realized it was finally time to do something about it.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

I spoke to professional organizer Jean Prominski of Seattle Sparkle to see how to rearrange my ever-growing collection. My biggest concern was that the collection needed to be easily accessible; I drink tea every day, usually multiple types of tea in one day. I had an empty shelf in a kitchen cabinet, but it was the top shelf — and I can’t reach that without a step stool. Needing a step stool multiple times a day just to make some tea? No, thanks!

The Pro Organizer’s Best Tea Storage Tips

Before finding a new location, though, Prominski had some tips. She suggested I weed out some teas I didn’t want or didn’t like first, which wasn’t an issue because I did that just a few weeks ago in an attempt to organize the mess myself. I also had some random bottles of essential oils stored with the tea, so we decided to move those in order to free up some more real estate. Next, Prominski recommended consolidating some of the tea by mixing them together to make new blends. As much as I think it’s a great idea, I decided against that one — I like having the selection and the ability to pick and choose what I want.

We went back and forth a bit about whether to store my tea collection on the counter, where it was taking up valuable (and precious!) counter space, or rearranging the cabinet to have the tea on the bottom shelf. I ended up choosing the cabinet. I moved all my pickling and baking stuff up a shelf so I could easily access my tea. 

Credit: Jennifer Billock

On Prominski’s suggestion, I grabbed a shelf riser and a couple of smaller storage bins from Target. She also thought a tiered storage shelf might work, but that didn’t work for my collection because it’s not in small, easily stackable containers — and, to be honest, I’m too lazy to decant everything into such containers. But if that’s more your speed, you should try it!

For most tea collections, Prominski recommends sorting it into categories, either by your favorites, by type of tea, or by how it’s packaged. Any half-full boxes of bagged tea should be consolidated, and if it’s a tea bag that isn’t wrapped, put those in an airtight container. For mine, we opted for organizing it by type of tea. I put the bags of loose-leaf tea into bins that fit under the new shelf riser in my cabinet, and lined up canisters next to them. On top of the shelf riser, I put the loose-leaf steeper bags and tools. I had room next to it for my hot chocolate collection, too! I need to keep the tea in the original container most of the time so I can see what it is as a specialist, but if you have a similar issue and feel so moved to get matching containers and create your own labels, go for it!

Credit: Jennifer Billock

This morning, I made tea with the new setup for the first time. (Caramel chai black tea, in case you were wondering.) I’m happy to say it was quite the success! This particular cabinet is also right next to my mugs and my sink, so I didn’t need to move around the kitchen as I heated up the water in my mug and filled my steeping bag with tea, which is a great thing for someone who isn’t a morning person at all until a quick cuppa!

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