The Tea Shelf

The Tea shelf
The Tea shelf

Every active “herbalist” needs themselves a perfect tea shelf. Not only does displaying your hand-collected, dried herbs inspire you to heal and to use your herbs, but it also encourages self-preparedness for the upcoming illnesses throughout every season. Easy access and good organization is the key to any successful task. As my natural herbal journey began almost a decade ago, it improves more and more every season. From knowing the exact start of when the herbal season begins to knowing exactly where to find the herbs, the entire bit of herbal knowledge is a well learned science, and a process. Committing to foraging, drying, and storing herbs must be well organized and handled all in a timely manner. The last thing you want is for your dining room to look like a drying room with herbs scattered all over the room and lacking order.

Good organization is the key to success

If your finished storage process of the herbs is not properly organized, labeled and easily accessible, the process will fail you. Proper storage encourages good use. Storage needs to be in an air-tight container and for me, if it looks good, then I’ll use it. Below, you can see my tea cabinet when I first began. It was scarce and nothing special. With my new shelf, I’ve dedicated my top shelf to “tinctures”. I have oils, and alcohol tinctures which I use to treat everything from sore muscles, to insect bites and cough syrups.

It’s taken a few years to get organized, but I’m happy that I had the help from my husband to make this passion complete. Now, I have a 36 jar tea shelf. All my herbs are properly labeled, dried and ready for use. Next…my tea/herbal chart so that everyone can use the herbs to heal.


the early days of my tea collecting
the early days of my tea collecting
Today's tea shelf
Today’s tea shelf

Getting started with a plan:

A few things need to be determined before you begin.

  1. Decide which types of jars you would like to use.
  2. Line up a few jars and simulate reaching for them
    • this determines the spacing and the space above you need to have
  3. How many jars total are you going to have on your shelf?
  4. Are you going to paint the wood?
    • Clear coat or staining: this is the deciding point for the wood you choose.
    • Painting: you can use particle board or a more undesirable wood with blemishes
  5. Have your glue and screws ready
  6. Before I screw the wood together, I use a little bit of glue first-it’s optional, but a step I always take to ensure additional strength
  7. You need a miter-saw to cut the small end pieces
    • 4 shelves means 8 pieces
    • First I cut the 6x6cm pieces, then I cut the 45 degree design
  8. You need some sanding paper to smooth-en all edges
  9. Before I use the screw-gun, I pre-drill all holes
    • this prevents the wood from splitting
    • drill-bit size is the core diameter of the screw
Detail of tea shelf
Detail of tea shelf

Step by step Do it yourself (DIY) instructions

Download the plan above and read through the additional information. Prepare/cut all wood pieces. Now you are ready to assemble the shelf

  1. Assemble each shelf
    1. take each of the long pieces (85cm) and line them up, pre-drill 3 holes (not to close to the edge)
    2. add the glue
    3. now screw the 2 pieces together
    4. do this for all 4 shelves
  2. Add the corner piece for each side of the shelf
    1. Hold the small piece in place, pre-drill one hole from the bottom, one from the back
    2. add the glue
    3. screw the piece on
    4. repeat this 7 more times
  3. Now assemble the 4 shelves to the back
    1. start with 2 back-boards
    2. Line up the 2 boards with the bottom shelf
    3. pre-drill 2 holes in each back-board from the back (so you do not see the screws)
    4. add the glue
    5. now screw each back-board to the shelf
  4. Decide on the spacing you need between each shelf
    1. start with the top shelf
    2. use 2 small clamps to hold the shelf in place, pre-drill your 2 holes per back-board
    3. add the glue
    4. screw the top shelf on the 2 back-boards
  5. Now, your top and bottom shelf is assembled. It’s secure to begin with the 2 middle shelves
    1. place the 2 remaining shelves on to the back-boards (use equal spacing)
    2. hold each one in place with a clamp
    3. pre-drill
    4. add the glue
    5. screw the shelf on
    6. repeat with the last shelf
  6. Give it a clear coat to protect the wood
    1. do it in the garage with the door open and let it remain in a well ventilated space for up to a week before the smell is totally gone.
  7. Mount and your shelf is complete!
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