If you’re like me, you enjoy drinking a variety of different teas throughout the day, the week, the month, the year. So you’ve probably got a bunch of teas on hand to choose from – some purchased, others samples, and perhaps a few gifts – depending on what “tea mood” strikes you.
Once you start piling up lotsa teas, you need to devise a method for keeping them organized so you’ll know which teas you own. It’s also a good idea to keep track of when each one was added to your stash to indicate their freshness. And if you store teas in more than one place, you’ll need to map out exactly where you can find them when you want them.
The first thing I do when I get a new tea is mark the package with the date it arrived. Self-adhesive labels are handy, or you can cut a strip of paper and tape or glue it to the container. If the name of the vendor isn’t clearly marked, I note this on the label as well – it comes in handy when you want to reorder or write a review. You can also add steeping information on the label if you’d like – the water temperature, steep time, and quantity of leaf you prefer. (Yes, many vendors include this information on the package, but I consider these to be suggestions. Often I find that I need to play around with the many parameters of infusion to obtain the results I want with any given tea.)
My teas are separated by categories. As I generally drink oolong or pouchong in the morning, I dedicate one wooden storage box to these teas. Black, green, and white single-estate and blended teas are kept in a large seagrass basket. A second basket holds flavoured, scented, and smoky teas. I keep my dyeing and crafting teas in a separate smaller basket. This system helps me find the tea I want relatively quickly. You may want to organize your teas differently: one storage area for each type of tea, or perhaps separated according to source country. Consider how you tend to relate to teas, whether it’s by process, origin, vendor, date acquired, or some other criterion, and set up your system accordingly.
Several tea drinkers I know keep meticulous records and tasting notes about their teas. I used to do this, but laziness and laissez-faire have, over time, won out over fastidiousness. Still, it really is the best method for keeping track of your tea stash, and if you’re the disorganized type I highly recommend it.
A tea journal or notebook is charming and easily portable, with a separate section – or a separate journal – for each variety of tea. If you’re the retro or analogue type, this could be a perfect solution. On the other hand, if you’re inclined to technology, set up an electronic database of your tea reserves for use on your computer or other device. Advantages of this system are the ability to instantly search for a particular tea, along with its location and any prep notes, as well as to monitor the expiration dates of teas that have been in residence for some time.
Here’s a sample outline for creating a system to organize your tea, whether via paper or pixel:
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