Spring is in full swing! Days are longer, flowers are budding, and everything feels fresh and new.
Everything except maybe your tea collection. Being a tea drinker, and tea lover, often means trying new teas. There are hundreds of teas to try, the possibilities are endless! Tea collections can quickly get out of hand. No matter how much cabinet space we've dedicated to our tea addiction habit, more is always needed. Trust me, I understand.
My solution? Add Tea organization to my spring-cleaning routine. That's right! In addition to opening windows, rotating matresses, and cleaning behind sofas, my spring-cleaning task list includes my personal tea collection.
So how does one "spring-clean" a tea collection?
Take inventory of your teas. You don't need to write them all down or make an excel spreadsheet (although you could). This could be as simple as laying them all out on a counter or table, where you can see them all.
Toss* anything beyond its peak freshness. Tea doesn't "go bad," but will lose freshness over time. To determine if is still fresh, check the best by or expiration date. Other signs that the tea may be past its freshness include lack of scent, dry or brittle appearing leaves, and poor or no taste when brewed.
Drink it! Take a break from spring cleaning to brew a cup... or 2 or 3. Assuming you may not have drank some of these teas in a while it may be worthwhile to evaluate them again. You may find yourself liking something you thought you disliked or disliking something you thought you liked.
Toss* or gift what you don't like. It's likely your hanging on to some teas that just aren't your cup of tea, but may be someone else’s. If it's still fresh, pass it along to your tea loving friends!
Sort. I like to sort my tea by pure and flavored. You can also sort by tea type, origin, brand, or alphabetically.
Storage. Tea needs to be kept in airtight containers, in a dark dry and cool place. This protects the tea leaves from things that can degrade them, such as light, moisture, heat and other flavors. I recommend keeping tea in its original packaging whenever possible.The packaging often has recommended brewing, best by dates, ingredients, etc. that may be helpful to refer back to. Also, once you run out having the package is the best way to be able to find the tea again.
Organize your tea collection in a way that works for you. Someplace you can see it, reach it, access it daily. Having it in your daily path will remind you to drink it.
Set a "drink down" goal. This could be to drink what you have before buying something new, use up the last few servings of a tea or teas, enjoy your favorite tea as often as you want instead of "saving" it, etc. Set yourself up for success by setting small, measurable, and easily obtainable goals. In addition to identifying what you'd like to accomplish, plan for how you will do it. For example: My goal for the next month is to use the 6 teas that have less than 3 servings left. I will do this by drinking these teas 2-3 times a week until they are gone (it should take about a month). I will not buy new tea until these are gone. I will put them in the front of my tea cabinet, so I remember to drink these first. Once I’m through these 6 teas my reward to myself will be to get a new tea.
*Side notes on tossing tea: tea leaves are great in compost. They can also be repurposed for arts & crafts or other home uses. Look online for ideas. I encourage you to repurpose whenever possible and recycle packaging.