A Tea Addict's Journal

Storing tea…

August 14, 2007 · 14 Comments

I’m trying to find a permanent home for my teas here.

One problem — the only suitable cupboard in the entire house smells.. like wood. Whatever wood it’s made of…. it’s got this smell that doesn’t seem to go away and reappears when I close the door. It’s the best place because it’s quite closed, is away from a window, and is the perfect size.

I don’t really like the idea of having my teas soak up the smell of the wood. In fact, in this case a cheap MDF board cupboard might be preferable, since those are usually pretty quick to dissipate their smell after a little while. The fact that it uses real wood is making it more problematic…

Any ideas on how to handle the smell problem? I fear this might not go away permanently 🙁

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14 responses so far ↓

  • lewperin // August 14, 2007 at 1:51 pm | Reply

    Maybe you should coat the cupboard’s interior surfaces with your favorite impermeable coating (varnish, paint…)?

  • MarshalN // August 14, 2007 at 2:02 pm | Reply

    Unfortunately repainting it is not an option…

  • davelcorp // August 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Reply

    Buy a metal locker/trunk.

  • wisdom_sun // August 14, 2007 at 4:48 pm | Reply

    Lowell Lo’s “Green Earth Society” in Sai Kung (http://www.greenearthsociety.com/eshop/index.php ) carries some “volcanic rocks” that  he swears can get rid of any smell very quickly.

    If you have a bit more time, you can also try using spent tea leaves as odor-absorbent — I find them 10 times better than good old baking soda when it comes to keeping my fridge clean-smelling.

  • wisdom_sun // August 14, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Reply

    Oh, zeolite is the name — http://www.greenearthsociety.com/eshop/product_info.php/products_id/1317/language/en

  • Anonymous // August 14, 2007 at 9:19 pm | Reply

    Maybe it just needs a really good washing? Murphy’s Oil Soap is what I usually use on wood. After it dries, perhaps a waxing would further help seal in the odor.

  • MarshalN // August 14, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Reply

    Yeah, somebody has suggested spent tea leaves.  Maybe I should do that…

    I’m in Hong Kong — I don’t even know where to get Murphy’s Oil Soap 🙂

    A metal locker will have to be a last resort, methinks…

  • sidtoh // August 14, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Reply

    If I’m not wrong, charcoal would be a good agent. Many a people use it in the fridges and cardboards to absorb smells. Moreover charcoal is odourless and does not remit any smell or odour

  • MarshalN // August 14, 2007 at 11:45 pm | Reply

    Charcoal is a little too slow :(.  I already have a bunch sitting in the cupboard…

    Maybe I should’ve bought a whole bag.

  • h_ster // August 15, 2007 at 12:24 am | Reply

    I have some of my cakes stored in basswood boxes which have a subtle but detectable smell in the same way a t-shirt smells like cotton. I put some of my lesser shengs to fragrance the boxes before hand so the boxes completely smell raw of young sheng. I also double wrap all my cakes in rice paper. I sniff my cakes every week and taste my teas to monitor the scent seepage and I haven’t found any detectable woody notes. What kind of wood do you have? Murphy’s oil soap is strong smelling so I wouldn’t imagine it good for the tea.

  • ankitlochan // August 15, 2007 at 3:56 am | Reply

    if the quantity is not big the best way would be to store the tea in standup poches with zip locks and then put them in air tight glass jars – your teas are safe for a year at least – thats a gurantee.




  • Anonymous // August 15, 2007 at 9:29 am | Reply

    Any oil based soap would be appropriate for wood. It doesn’t have to be Murphy’s, that’s simply what’s available in Indiana. Murphy’s does have a distinctive smell, but after rinsing and allowing the cabinet to dry for a day, I doubt any of the soap smell would linger. Scrubbing down all the doors and cabinetry was a favorite punishment of my mom’s for when my brothers and I were really bad…so I’m well-acquainted with the intricacies of Murphy’s. 🙂

  • Anonymous // August 18, 2007 at 6:02 am | Reply

    Hi Marshal,

    What I use in my tea cupboard is baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, as it works really well for absorbing smells. I always keep a bowl in any cupboard and the fridge where there are items that can absorb smells.  

    I had a similar situation in an apartment where I lived.  The cabinet smelled of musky old shoes, so I took a couple bowls and filled them with 2 cups of baking soda each and left them in there for a week. The smell was very faint after that time, so being a bit impatient I changed the bowls, added new baking soda and placied my tea and related items inside.  Needless to say,  the smell never penetrated my tea.  You might try the baking soda if you can get a hold of some.



  • MarshalN // August 18, 2007 at 6:06 am | Reply

    You’re right, I should’ve stuck some baking soda in there, although it’s a little late now…. the tea is already in.  I have some charcoal and some old (spilled) tieguanyin leaves in there to help soak things up.  I think it’ll be all right at the end of the day.  The tea smell already outweighs everything else in there…

    Let’s hope I’m right 🙂

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