Monday, January 5, 2015

Steepster and Tea Organization

Today marks one year on the tea lover's haven, Steepster. I have to say it is one of the more awesome discoveries of the year while also being the most cruel. I have spent a lot on tea, and my stash is nuts thanks to exposure to more high quality brands that are often small and not very well known. In that time, I have completed 423 tasting notes in that year, though admittedly a solid chunk are compiled from other records I have from tea reviews past (mostly Adagio). I am excited to see where this next year takes me.

I am also checking in about my tea pare-down goals I introduced at the end of last summer. At that time, I had 80 samples and 68 tins. The goal was 20 sample sizes and 30 full tins. I currently still have 68 full sized tins, but only have 43 samples. I take this as decent news - it means that knowing I bought a TON of tea, I was drinking it and/or rehoming the things I didn't like at the same speed as I purchased it. And more, I am drinking samples far faster than I am acquiring them. With some mindfulness, I am confident this year will show progress in reducing even more.

In the spirit of the new year, I reorganized some things. I also got my first little teapot. It has a mesh strainer inside it, is a pretty jade green color, and holds two mugs worth of tea. This has revolutionized my tea drinking as I am now able to steep loose leaf tea easily while I am dog sitting (I have been house and dog sitting for the past 3 weeks straight), and able to make a big pot and sit and do other things. Overall it cuts down time brewing.

I redid my cabinets. Right now as they stand, they house nearly all of the tins I have. It is organized in a specific way, and about 2/3 of the way full. The organizational system doesn't work as effectively if it is any more full, so I think what is inside is my real goal for knowing I have just enough.

The bottom shelf are all teas I prefer to make iced - many tins are on their sides. On the right, there are older teas I need to use up first. The pink box in the middle hold all of the tea samples I have tasted and am keeping. The left side holds the iced teas that are newer. The top shelf holds my hot teas. The ones on the right are ones that are full sized that I haven't tasted yet. The ones on the left are ones I have. The ones in the middle are my favorite teas so I can find them easily. The whole top shelf is also organized by having the newer teas in the back in their sections, and the older ones in the front.

I keep a small stash on my countertop of things I am trying to finish. There are usually a couple samples here too. Right now, I have some lavender honey I am trying to finish. Yes, I also have a small excess of honey.

I have an excess that I am trying to cut down on. This small box holds all the teas that I am not going to bother rehoming in a tin - there isn't enough to warrant it, and many are Butiki and are going out of business. These will be consumed long before they go stale. Many of these are night in light-proof packaging, also requiring that they be consumed sooner rather than later.

This is the true overstock. The large box on the left are samples. Since this picture was taken, I received my golden tips subscription so there are more now. The small Adagio box holds samples that I know I enjoy, but that aren't open yet. I really try to make sure teas not living in tins, or open samples exposed to air get priority. The box on the right contains all of the sealed, airtight teas that are waiting for tin space in the cabinet. It is a medium sized box. The giant bag in the middle is a huge amount of Blood Orange tisane from Adagio, one of my favorite iced teas, waiting for tin space.

I am feeling great about the start to this year, tea included.


  1. Ooooh, I love tea!!!! You're so organized, I am impressed! Would you like to follow each other on GFC?! Let me know and follow me on my blog, I will follow you right back on both GFC and Bloglovin!

  2. I might be about to ask a really silly question, but what is gfc?

  3. Awesome post! I could read about tea organization all day long : ) For the past few years my bf and I were living outside the US and didn't have access to much tea variety- now that we're back... oh wow, there is SO MUCH to choose from!

    We recently found the tea store Teavana and got their holiday box with 12 different blends. Yesterday I found a local store and picked up some of their products and was also in another store and saw a box of Les Palais The Thes... a brand you mentioned in an earlier post. It was on 50% markdown so got that to try as well. Then there's always Marshalls, where it's impossible to not buy at least one box :P

    Anyways, good luck with your organization and simplification efforts! I'm looking forward to more of your tea posts!

    1. Thank you so much - were you in Ukraine? I visited a friend who was in Peace Corps there a few years ago, it was such a cool place to visit. :)

      I love some Teavana teas, though I think as you explore online you will find options that are just as great and even better quality for less money. Teavana is the gateway for many a tea lover, and there are a few blends I am super dedicated to. I really love the White Ayurvedic Chai, the Citrus Lavender Sage, and the Berry Basil Blast just to name a couple.

    2. Thanks for your reply, Leah!

      Ooooh, the Citrus Lavender Sage is what opened the door to our purchase. I haven't been as impressed with the other teas, but I sure love that particular blend. Last night I made some, cooled it, and mixed it with chilled white wine- so good! But I'm not sure we'll go back... maybe it was just the day we were there, but it seemed really high-pressure to buy something.

      Yes, in eastern Ukraine for a couple of years : ) Really, really, really loved it! Where did did you go on your visit?

    3. I have never mixed herbal tea (or any tea) with wine but I've heard of it being done - thank you for giving me a drink idea. :) A lot of the holiday blends are icky to me, I'd say I enjoy maybe 20% of what Teavana sells. And yes, there is high pressure to buy. The sales associates are pressured to sell a certain amount in a certain way or risk their jobs. They also tell you all sorts of health benefits about the teas that are unsubstantiated at best. And one had the gall to tell me their teas are the highest quality out there, which I KNOW is not true. There is a place for Teavana in the world, and a place in my cupboard for some of it (their tins are great when they are on sale), but I buy online only now.

      I flew in to Kyiv, and we spent a couple days there. Then we went to Letychiv (forgive my spelling) which was where my friend was living and teaching for a few days, and then we spent a few days in the Carpathian Mountains. The whole trip was so educational for me and beautiful and interesting. What brought you there?

    4. Haha, yeah, the tin sale got my boyfriend. I'm the queen of repurposing old glass jars for everything so no one could have talked me into a tin, but he was at the register with the sales associate and next thing I know, there's the tin! It was only one, at least, no major harm done to the budget.

      That's wonderful that you got to visit Ukraine! That experience must make what is happening right now seem a lot more personal to you. It's very sad the kind of massive suffering that is going on there these days, I pray for the country to find peace, unity, and prosperity. I was there just for fun. Somehow this idea got into my brain that I want to live in that region of the world. But now, we're back in the US, hopefully just for a while...

      Would you ever consider making a blog post about your trip there? It would be so interesting to read!!

    5. Good luck to you in your travels - I am envious. :)

      I would consider talking some about it, but probably not until I am planning my next big trip overseas, and that will be awhile yet. Right now I am focusing on this crazy transition time in my life and seeing what comes next. But thanks to your suggestion, I will absolutely remember this for when the time comes. Thank you!!

    6. Hi Leah! So I tried the Le Palais des Thés black tea- WOW! It makes all other black teas taste like cheap sawdust!! Really good stuff. I had never spent that much on plain black tea before, didn't realize it would make a difference.

      Also, just blogged about some new teas and thought you might be interested:

    7. I am glad you discovered it! It is so hard to go back once you've begun dabbling in the good stuff :)

      And I am ALWAYS up for reading about tea, thank you!

  4. I love your teapot! It's such a pretty color!