A Tea Addict's Journal

Storage problem

March 3, 2007 · 5 Comments

I am looking for a place to store my teas in Hong Kong, and there’s a cabinet in the house that will do the job well, I think. One problem though — it smells of varnish still, mostly because the door is rarely open. What can get rid of the varnish smell quickly? Any thoughts? Will charcoal do it? Should I go buy a bag of charcoal, open it, put it in the cabinet, and so when I return to Hong Kong next time, I can stick my tea (from Beijing) in the cabinet without having to worry about them all smelling like varnish?

I don’t have many days left in Hong Kong, so I might do a little last minute shopping around, although mostly, I am just going to hang out at home. Then it’s back to Cambridge for me.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • ancientteahorseroad // March 3, 2007 at 9:39 pm | Reply

    I don’t think charcoal will do it alone. Like the tea, the charcoal will just absorb some of the odor. While it will keep the entire smell from being absorbed by the tea, I think it would be safe to suggest that your tea will also do its fair share. Frankly, I would sand the interior in order to remove the varnish and perhaps use a neutrual wax such as soybean wax or natural beehive wax to seal it. Just a suggestion.

  • MarshalN // March 3, 2007 at 11:40 pm | Reply

    Well, I was thinking of first putting charcoal in the thing, with no tea, so to let the charcoal to eat up the smell first.  Then after a period (a month or two?) I’ll stick the tea in

  • kmcklendin // March 4, 2007 at 8:11 am | Reply

    IMHO I think just ventilation and time should do the trick. I would think about it as two processes. There is

    1. The rate of volatile chemicals diffusing from the varnish and
    2. The rate of the chemicals in gas phase being lost to the environment or absorbing in your tea.

    The problem with the charcoal idea is that it doesn’t affect the first process. Simply leaving the cabinet open and giving it some time should be just as effective.

  • iwii // March 5, 2007 at 3:31 am | Reply

    One way to temporarily solve the problem could be to stick your bings in sealed plastic bags in the cabinet, until the smell has gone. The aging process is suspended in the meantime, but if it is not too long, it should be harmless (if necessary, you can remove them from the cabinet and let the tea breath form time to time), and could give you a couple of additional weeks to get rid of the smell.

  • MarshalN // March 5, 2007 at 7:02 am | Reply

    I decided to store my tea on a bookshelf right now.  It’s open and the bings will see some light, but it’s not a lot and I don’t think this is fatal.  It exposes the tea to more moisture as well, which might not necessarily be a bad thing.

    In the meantime, I put some odor/humidity remover into the cabinets, and hopefully they will get rid of some of the smell.  I’ll also be trying to air them out.  We’ll see what happens.  I think by the time I am ready to ship my tea down to Hong Kong from Beijing, it should be relatively odor free.  This is an old cabinet already, but the door of the cabinet has been opened so infrequently that the smell is still there.

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