Tea

The $11.88 Pantry Organizer That Makes Every Day 10x Better

June  5, 2019

My husband Justin tells me that I have a Tea Problem. Any time we go to the supermarket, even if it's for a dozen eggs and nothing more, I’ll always, somehow, end up in the tea aisle, hypnotized by all the promises:

This tea will wake me up in the morning. This tea will help me fall asleep. This tea will boost my immune system. This tea will combat stress. This tea will write my articles for me. This tea will save the world.

I want all of this.

Justin and I have always said that tea tastes better if someone else makes it for you. (Try it, it’s true.) That's why we love making big mugs of it for each other and anyone who comes over.

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“What if you abhor and never use those bagged sachets that are basically the pocket lint of camellia sinensis and only drink loose leaf? ”
— Whiteantlers
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A few years ago, though, we stopped making it altogether. My Tea Problem had turned into an organization problem, and our pantry was so overflowing with boxes, it had become its own stressor. Where's the tea for that?

Then I stole a trick from restaurants: a tea box. You know when you’re out to dinner and you ask for tea and the server brings over a box and you get to pick out which kind you want? It’s a small hospitality gesture, but such a pro move: By being given the choice, you feel special.

It turns out—just like so many tricks I've nabbed from working in restaurants—the same is true at home.

The box I ordered is made from bamboo, with a glass top, and little compartments for each flavor. Oh, and it’s only $11.88. A small cost to keeps my Tea Problem at bay, and make every guest who comes into our home feel awake or relaxed or like they can save the world.

And it's great when we aren't hosting, too. Now my favorite part of most nights is when Justin puts a pot of water on the stove, brings me the box, and waits patiently as I take too long to decide. No matter which one I choose: “Good pick,” he’ll say.

This post contains products that are independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission. How do you organize your tea or coffee at home? Tell us in the comments!
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.

13 Comments

Carolyn K. June 11, 2019
"The $11.88 Pantry Organizer That Makes Every Day 10x Better" Thanks for wasting my time today. Tea Box... what about the rest of the pantry?? *rolls eyes*
 
Lori O. June 9, 2019
Hi! I had the same problem, my cupboard expanded to three shelves of tea, ugh! I decided that I wasn’t going to buy any new tea until the old tea was used up...My husband suggested we just throw away the tea we dont really like... What??? Throw away tea? So what I decided to do was to make sun tea with all the strange teas that were clogging up my cupboard. Turns out that some teas that I don’t like hot are pleasant iced... only 2 hundred tea bags to go... only kidding!
 
Adrienne B. June 9, 2019
With me, it's spices. I have freeze dried herbs that are great when you've run out of fresh, bulk spices like paprika and garlic powder that I keep in lovely Armenian preserve jars arranged by frequency of use, canned spices like cloves, a row of alphabetically organized Pensey's spices, and another area with pimento jars filled with my own spice mix creations. There's always the temptation to get more spices or make more spice mixes.
 
Sheryl T. June 9, 2019
Thank you! I decided a few months ago that a tea box was the answer to some of my troubles, but couldn't find one I liked. This one's in my Amazon cart!
 
Janet M. June 9, 2019
I use a vintage spice chest with drawers. Miraculously, each drawer is exactly the right size to store individual tea sachets in their packets. I only wish it were bigger. It has two drawers on top, where I store my current favorites, Ceylon orange pekoe and Tazo passion for iced tea. The bottom one stores chamomile, mint, Darjeeling, green jasmine and white teas.
But I still have more tea! It just isn’t large enough to hold a whole box of each flavor.
The rest are still in their boxes in the pantry.
I love it because it’s a pretty display on my countertop, with room on the top to hold a pewter sugar pot for raw sugar and stevia packets, although I usually drink my tea black.
I’ve been looking for a larger version on eBay and Etsy to hang on the wall.
Maybe an Etsy woodworker will get the hint and make me exactly what I’d like.
But in the meantime, I’ve been using this treasure for over 30 years, and I love it. <3
 
Samia O. June 8, 2019
You make it sound super cute!! And it is!! If only it can be maintained! I have a couple of tea boxes stacked on top of each other aalong with some loose and some unopened ones! Coz i normally reach for my black tea!
 
Zozo June 8, 2019
Hehe but what does one get for a condiment addiction...? Another fridge you say? 😅
 
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Emma L. June 12, 2019
Two fridges would be pretty cool!
 
Whiteantlers June 5, 2019
What if you abhor and never use those bagged sachets that are basically the pocket lint of camellia sinensis and only drink loose leaf?
 
Sonia June 10, 2019
Not everyone can afford loose leaf tea. Please be considerate of other people’s situations before insulting their food/drink choices.
 
MrsMehitabel September 11, 2019
That's my storage problem too, Whiteantlers! Although mine's probably even worse than yours because I also own a ton of tea bags. Herbal teas, decaffeinated tea for the evening (now that I'm OLD and can no longer have caffeine at night!) and packages of tea bags that were gifts and that no longer have labels and that smell like generic dusty herbs but for some reason are never thrown away!

It amounts to 3 plastic shoe boxes in the pantry, (labeled black, tisane, and green, but actually containing loose, bagged, and tea-I-don't-like) plus a few 1-lb tins of daily-drinking tea in the kitchen by the kettle. It's not a terrible setup when only family members are brewing, but there isn't a graceful way to offer tea to guests. I feel like I might as well be backing up a dump truck!

The positive side of it is that fellow tea lovers can really tell I'm one of their own!

In closing, Sonia, some loose-leaf tea really is wildly expensive, isn't it? Overall, though, I think bags add to the price if it's just ordinary tea. If you have some middle-eastern or Indian markets around, that's a good source for extremely cheap loose-leaf tea. I usually spend around $10 for a pound, sometimes even in a tin! (There are great resources online to figure out which brands are good, so you don't commit to a pound of disgusting tea. Hardly frugal if you end up hating it!) I figured once that, using 1 tsp of leaves per cup, a pound of tea makes 200 cups- 5 cents a cup! That's my kind of luxury ;)
 
mmurray June 5, 2019
Hi, the link to the tea box you mentioned does not work.....
thanks
 
mmurray June 5, 2019
now it does....thank you. nice pick!