Books. Tea. Cats. Scribbling.

Tag: tea cabinet

State of the Tea Cabinet, 2018

Holy crap, it’s New Year’s Day. Wow.

It’s 2018, and now Books & Tea is 2.5 years old. 2017 was kind of a mess for my mental health and organization/time management skills so I didn’t post as much as I wanted. On the plus side, right before the holidays, I finally got a diagnosis for the digestive issues that have been plaguing me for the past few years: Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

I’ve been reading up on IBS for the past week or so as a result. I’ve also been learning about the low-FODMAP diet through things like the Monash FODMAP app and low-FODMAP cookbooks. For the first few months of the year, I’m going to try an elimination diet (to the best of my ability) to determine what my food triggers are.

One wrinkle to this is that the research on how tea relates to low-FODMAP diets is unclear. Here’s what the Monash app tells me when I search for recommendations about tea:

  • Green tea is considered “safe” to drink in the low-FODMAP diet.
  • Black tea can be considered safe, unsafe, or of moderate safety depending on whether it’s brewed weak or strong, or whether it’s brewed with water or with milk — and depending on whether it’s straight black tea or a masala chai blend.
  • Oolong tea is considered unsafe to drink.
  • Rooibos is safe, but chamomile isn’t.
  • Fennel tea is unsafe to drink, but fennel bulbs, fennel fronds, and fennel seeds are all safe to eat.

In other words, it’s all over the map! I’m especially curious about why green tea is good and black tea is okay, but oolong is considered bad, even though oolong is in between black and green tea in terms of oxidation. It makes very little sense.

So I’m not sure how many tea reviews I’ll write this year. I certainly have a backlog of teas to taste and reviews to finish, so I’ll try to do what I can. But I will continue to write about books; in particular, I’ll be interviewing a bunch of Canadian SF/F authors, talking about their recent and upcoming works, and letting you know about cool new releases.

In the meantime, with the holidays in full swing, I got a chance to sit down, relax, and do a full inventory of my tea collection.  The last time I did this was 2 years ago, and things have not gotten any better since then. In fact, it’s even larger and more unwieldy. So let me show you my shame: here’s my cleaned-out cabinet in all its glory.

A white plywood cabinet with four shelves inside. Each shelf contains several boxes of loose-leaf tea, and each box belongs to its own category.

Top shelf: teaware and herbal teas. Second shelf: green, yellow, and white teas, plus some random yerba mate blends. Third shelf: black teas. Bottom shelf: pu’erh, oolong and rooibos teas, plus filters and a container for scoops and picks.

Total number of teas in my cabinet: 166

Total weight of all teas: 5,226 grams, 1 blooming tea, and 129 individually-wrapped bags. That’s about 11.5 pounds!

Breaking it down even further, here’s what things look like:

Tea Type Number of Varieties Weight in Grams
Herbal 24  1156.9 (plus 26 bags)
White 11  167.24 (plus 16 bags)
Green — Unflavoured 3  19.9
Green — Flavoured 17  517.5 (plus 24 bags and 1 blooming tea)
Black — Unflavoured 10  466.1 (plus 5 bags)
Black — Flavoured 32  665.1 (plus 58 bags)
Pu’erh 33  1,327.2
Oolong 20  290.6
Rooibos 11  521.2
Yellow 3  25.9
Yerba Mate 2  68


Good god, I have no idea if I’ll be able to drink it all. If you want me to mail you some, send me a message! I need all the help I can get.

A Look Into My Tea Cabinet

One thing I love about Steepster is that the people on it like to do swaps. You can look at someone else’s cupboard, contact them (politely, of course) to express your interest in trying something they have, and find out if they’re game to exchange teas with you. Hell, people often arrange mass tea swaps in groups in a box that travels from home to home.

Steepster-folk are generous, is what I’m saying.

So warmed my heart when I saw a surprise in Monday’s mail: a padded envelope full of samples from Yunnan Sourcing from a fellow Steepster member in the GTA. We’ve agreed to subscribe to a few tea boxes together and split them so we each get to try new varieties. I guess this was her way of starting things on a high note!

The only problem? The cabinet I use to store tea is full near to bursting. (But there’s still more on the way. Heh.) Which made me think: why not talk about what teas I store and how I store them?

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my tea cabinet.

tea_cabinet_openI got this fellow last summer when the hodgepodge of baskets I used to store things threatened to take over the dining room table and I was begged to reduce the clutter. After quick search on Kijiji, I saw this lovely specimen on sale nearby for $25 and picked it up. It’s about 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide, and a foot or so deep. A nice deal, if I may say so myself.

The baskets in the tea cabinet are colour-coded for each type of tea: caffeine-free herbals in the orange basket on the top shelf next to the teapots and gaiwans; green and white teas on the second shelf, with separate baskets for flavoured and unflavoured greens; black teas on the third shelf, again split into flavoured and unflavoured; and pu’erh, oolong, and rooibos teas on the bottom shelf. The bottom shelf also has some miscellaneous empty tins.

It’s not a perfect system since some baskets are really overloaded (the unflavoured black tea basket in particular is an explodey sort of place), but I’m quite happy with the results. It also smells damn nice inside — all herbal and sweet and comforting.

If you’re curious about the baskets themselves, I got them from Home Outfitters. However, their site doesn’t list what products they sell. (Seriously, Home Outfitters? It’s 2015. Your site should show more than your most current flyer.) These ones from Amazon look pretty similar.

There are lots of other ways to store tea, and I’ve seen some lovely and inventive storage spaces among my friends and fellow tea drinkers. I’ll share their photos and stories in the future.

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