Recycled Tea Jars


If you’re like me you probably have some random assortment of items that could have gone into the recycling bin but that you stuffed into a cabinet with the thought, “I could use this for something…”


We’ve had a not small collection of glass jars growing near our sink for awhile now. I hadn’t yet decided what exactly they would be made into, but I knew I could start by at least getting all the labels off and cleaning them up.

My husband has complained many times about the ridiculous amount of tea boxes in our spice cabinet/coffee storage area, because in the winter I get a little overzealous with all the flavors (if you haven’t had Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet or Sugarplum seasonal flavors you are MISSING OUT big time!) and they take up a lot of room/aren’t very organized.

I decided this would be he perfect task for my collection of jars. Tea jars! And things will be organized! And then my husband will have to admit that most of the disorganization in that cabinet is actually from all of his spices and cooking oils and the like.

Things you will need:

Glass food jars that have been cleaned (run through the dishwasher if you have one)

Large bowl of hot water

Dash of olive oil

A few clean paper towels

Chalkboard paint or chalkboard spray paint

Junk mail or other material to protect your work surface

Painter’s tape and paper (optional)

An outdoor area to work in if you’re doing spray paint, which I prefer

You want to start off by washing your jars. Then, soak your jars in hot water to help get the labels off. About 20 minutes fully submerged helped get them to start peeling. This was a multi-day project because I knew getting the labels off would likely be mildly annoying and time consuming.  I could fit about 3 jars and their matching lids in the giant bowl we have. You could also use a sink (you know, if you are the kind of person who doesn’t have dishes in the sink/isn’t participating in a battle of wills to see who will scrub the pots and pans first)


Pull them out and start peeling away. There will in almost every case be some adhesive residue. Get as much as you can off- then spread a small amount of olive oil over it and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Smoosh it around. Then wipe with your clean paper towel.


The roughness of the paper towel helps get alllll of the adhesive debris off. The olive oil has some kind of magic anti-adhesive properties.


After you’ve done this, you’ll want to wash the jars again, preferably through the dishwasher. In general things that were jarred leave some smells behind and the boiling hot water of the dishwasher helps with that. My jars were from artichoke hearts, and curry sauce. So. I had some smells to battle. Be sure to let them dry with the lids OFF afterward.

Next you can tape off a design on the glass, depending on what you want your “label” to look like. I wanted to be able to see through at least part of the jar, so I didn’t want to paint the whole thing, but I really hate it when lines aren’t straight or designs aren’t symmetrical, so I went with the simplest design I could think of.


Now you’re all ready to chalkboard paint them! I headed outside and used some ridiculous Amazon packing material as a backdrop to protect  our patio.

Having used this paint before on magnets, I did 3 coats to ensure it was thick enough that writing on it with chalk wouldn’t gouge it.


Last but not least, take the time to write out what’s in each jar. I put each flavor of tea in a ziplock bag with a cutout from the box it originally came in to clearly identify each type even if the chalk part gets erased. You want to be careful putting more than one tea in a jar (without a bag) because smell is such a huge part of taste- in the same jar they all start to smell the same!


The tea collection right now isn’t nearly as big as I thought it was, as I appear to have decimated the fruit flavors (blueberry, country peach, etc) but I have enough to accommodate the flavors I usually buy in winter. And they look neat and organized in my window sill!


I also made a cute vase out of a skinny jar but I apparently didn’t take a picture of it… I’ll post it next time.

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