Sunday Tea Hoots 27 – Moldy times

Over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling under the weather with health issues. Worrying about upcoming medical insurance changes doesn’t help with the stress either. My response has been to camp in front of my computer with giant tea mugs, knitting, and World of Warcraft adventures. That said, my neglected owl house has been a disaster of messes – feathers, paper, boxes, fur, and dishes everywhere. My tea area is covered in a mound of tea pots, dirty cups, samples, tea books, and handouts.

In a moment of “I’m going to get stuff done!” mood, I cleaned up my tea area to start a good tea session to power myself through cleaning the rest of the house. My tea table is a pull out tray style. I always dry the top after each use as well as empty the plastic tray often to avoid a repeat of this:

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

I had some leaves stuck in between the slats of the tea table, so I decided to take the whole table to the sink to give a rinse. I discovered HORROR! MOLD MOLD MOLD underneath my tea table. I don’t have to actual full on fuzz photos as I screamed a bunch and went in with a scrub brush with bleach.

Most of the mold fuzz was where the plastic tray slides in and out. There was also mold spreading from the slides and across the slats underneath. Here’s what photos I took right after the first round of cleaning.


The back corners were especially bad. Those black spots were still a bit of mold present to give you an idea of the infestation.

I talked to a few fellow Seattle tea people and apparently this happens to them too. My house has been cold and humid (60F’s with up to 70% humidity) which doesn’t help if I got a tea table with a bit of a damp underside, or resting with a damp, yet empty, spill tray. There was no mold at all anywhere on the plastic tray.

Lesson for tea drinking in Seattle (or other humid climates)

  1. Thoroughly dry your tea table after each session.
  2. Be sure to check and clean underneath your tea table.
  3. Switch to a nonporous tea table like steel/stone.

All clean!


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  • This happens to in Maryland where it is relatively humid as well. Which begs the question: where does one find non-wood tea tables?

    • There’s stainless steel ones on aliexpress, usually a box style but I’ve seen one with a drainage tube. For a non-draining tray I got a ruyao one and have seen stone ones on aliexpress too.

  • dejena

    Another handy Seattle tip, since I’m the handy Jane among my tech friends. Run your bathroom exhaust fan for your shower, and at least thirty minutes after. Mold easily grows in cabinets, especially under the sink. And if you don’t catch it fast, it gets really expensive to replace what it has destroyed.

  • Story of my Tea

    Hi Char would you share with me what did you use to clean the table? I’m afraid of putting wood into water and I haven’t found a meaningful wood cleaner 🙁 Thanks!!!

    • I used diluted bleach and a plastic scrub brush. I dried thoroughly then oiled it. Microfiber cloths make for fast drying time. You might be able to get away with just using oil and wiping (similar to dealing with cast iron) but I went in with bleach for that mold.

  • Elle Dechene

    I’m so glad you shared this, as I’m just now exploring this gongfu cha world and received my bamboo tea tray yesterday. As someone who is very allergic to mold, I now know to be careful and dry it out thoroughly between sessions.

  • Washu Ai

    Vinegar is better than bleach for mold, especially for porous material. Bleach ionic behavior keeps it from getting down deep. Although I’m still having to toss out a lot of things. Right now I’m still praying my mattress cover is saving my mattress, even though I’m going to have to get rid of it.

    • Good to know. I’ve gotten mold again thanks to this climate, and I will try again with vinegar.

  • D Liu

    oh, no! but like Washu said, vinegar is better for wood. Also, tea tree oil and vinegar, plus strong sunlight to dry it between uses. I think if you propped it up to air dry from all sides might prevent mold.

  • Washu Ai

    I probably would still get the wood tea table. Just be vigilant about cleaning and drying and possibly replacing. You could always set up a dehumidifier in a closed room, of things aren’t drying. Moving it is as merging refrigerator upright, waiting, though.