by Stephanie Hanson
I have an embarrassing confession to make. Last night, I cataloged my loose leaf teas. Just the loose leaf teas, not including any of the many singleton tea bags floating around in my three tea chests or the boxes of teabags in the tea cabinet. I came up with a number. I whispered it to my husband and he shook his head. Eighty-six. Eighty-six different types of loose leaf tea.
In our kitchen next to the refrigerator, we have a narrow bit of counter with cabinets above and below. When we were looking at houses and walked into this kitchen, I immediately knew where my tea shrine, as the family calls it, would go. The Zarafina sits on the counter top along with a jar of tea implements and a small jewelry box that holds demitasse spoons and tea scoops. Above and below, the cabinets are filled with tea (and a few boxes of drinking chocolate and hot chocolate). When I ask visitors what kind of tea they would like, they usually shake their heads and just tell me to pick something, completely overwhelmed. Frequently, laughter accompanies this conversation. So this particular tea drinker has a few tips for organization.
First of all, do what I rather belatedly did last night. Keep a running list, such as an Excel spreadsheet, so teas can be sorted by type or even brand. Now that you know the contents of your tea collection, a place must be found to house it. Ideally, tea storage should be dark, relatively cool, and dry. Keep tea in airtight, and if possible, light-tight containers.
I’m very lucky to live with someone who allows me to command so much kitchen space, but previously I kept the tea on a bookshelf with all of my paraphernalia. Lazy susans make finding the tea at the back of the shelf or cabinet a little easier. Small jewelry boxes are great for holding demitasse spoons and matches for that tea warmer. Wide-mouthed jars are great for holding tea balls and the like.
Also, think about using your teapots as decorations in the living room. Interesting ones make great conversation pieces. And when your tea collection gets a little overwhelming, participate in a tea swap. The most important part is to find the system that works best for you (and of course the people who have to share a house with your tea collection).
Check out Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop, for more interesting articles!