Popular across the globe, tea has been a favored drink for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the tannins that produce tea’s rich flavor also stain surfaces.
From teeth to tea glasses, tannins have the potential to stain anything they come in contact with.
Choosing the Right Vessel for Your Tea
While ceramic is the first material that comes to mind when we think of tea, glass is widely regarded as a great option for containers to brew and drink your tea from.
Glass is very durable. It is less fragile than its porcelain counterparts and it is not as susceptible to heat loss as metal tea kettles and pots. Glass is suitable for brewing, serving, and storing your tea. The versatility of glassware is only rivaled by its beauty.
Glassware enables you to observe your tea as it brews. Watching the leaves and blooms unfurl and steep is incredible.
Visually stunning tea, such as butterfly pea flower tea, and blooming teas are best enjoyed through the transparency of glass.
How Does Glass Get Stained?
Stains are great for windows in a cathedral but they aren’t so pretty when they’re on your glassware. While glass is less permitting of stains due to its low porosity, your glassware can still become stained over time.
Your glass tea ware can develop stains due to the type of tea you are brewing. Teas with a darker hue tends to have the most tannins. Examples of these would be black and green tea varieties.
Brewing loose-leaf tea without a bag or infuser to contain the leaves can also contribute to staining. As the leaves float to the bottom of your tea pot or cup, they can become stuck to the bottom and sides of the container.
As they sit on the surface, their tannins leach out and can seep into the body of the receptacle.
Improper cleaning following tea brewing and consumption can also contribute to the staining of your glassware.
My Glassware Is Stained. What Can I Do?
Throwing out stained glassware and purchasing new items is not an economical solution. If your glass is vintage or antique, consult a professional on what is safe to use to clean your tea ware.
Your first method of attacking stains on glass should be soaking. Submerge the glassware in hot water and allow to soak for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Remove the glass, and clean as usual. You can even boil your glass in a pot of water.
Be sure that the glass is warm or at least room temperature prior to submerging in hot water. Putting a cold glass item into boiling water will result in cracked or shattered glass.
If the stains remain, attempt a second soak with the addition of bleach or vinegar. Never mix bleach and vinegar together; you could produce chlorine gas.
When soaking doesn’t lift the stains, it’s time to enlist the help of chemical stain removers. Chemicals are also a great way to clean a stain where you can’t reach to scrub it like in the spout of your glass tea pot.
Bleach is a popular option when looking for a stain remover. Its ability to cut through the toughest of messes and leave things gleaming white make it a viable option for removing stains on glass. Add bleach to hot water and allow your item to soak for approximately an hour.
Once time is passed, remove your glass from the bleach and water solution. Rinse thoroughly and wash as usual. You will find that the stain is removed or much easier to scrub away at this point.
Vinegar is another widely known option for cleaning chemicals and is preferred for those who want a chemical cleaner with a more natural composition.
The acetic acid in vinegar is what helps it slice through stains and grime. You can pour vinegar directly into your glassware or you can soak the glassware in a vinegar and hot water mixture for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Hydrogen peroxide can be found at any local drugstore. A 3% solution can be used to remove stains from any glass surface.
Simply apply to the surface and allow it to sit for around 30 minutes. Then wipe the hydrogen peroxide away and rinse off your glass. It should be free from stains and sparkling clean.
While you’re at the drugstore, you may want to also purchase some denture cleaning tablets. The tablets harness the cleaning power of sodium bicarbonate without having to scrub your glasses.
Simply plop a few tablets into a vat of water and allow your glassware to soak in the fizzy solution.
An additional way that you can harness the power of baking soda without any scrubbing effort on your part is with antacids. Using antacids, you can follow the same procedure as the denture cleaning tablets.
Glass stovetop cleaners containing oxalic acid can also be used to clean your glass tea supplies. Spray or apply the cleanser as you typically would and scrub as necessary.
A thorough rinse with clean water is warranted once the stain has been eliminated.
The Chemical Options Haven’t Worked. Now What?
If the chemical choices previously discussed do not lift the stain and you’re really intent on keeping the piece of glassware, your next option is physical exfoliation. You don’t want to cause unnecessary damage to your glass.
You should always pick the gentlest scouring agent first and give it a chance to work before moving on to the more heavy-duty options.
The least damaging and most widely recommended exfoliator is baking soda. Baking soda is made from sodium bicarbonate.
Besides the cleaning abilities of sodium bicarbonate at the molecular level, the small particles that make up baking soda can physically remove the stain by scrubbing it away.
Add enough water to your baking soda to make a thick paste. Apply this paste to the stain. Scrub with a damp washcloth or sponge. You’ll notice the stain flecking away as you scrub back and forth. Repeat as necessary with a new batch of paste as needed.
Among the choices for a gentle scrubbing agent is toothpaste. All toothpastes contain abrasives that help remove plaque from the surface of our teeth. Those same abrasives can be used to scrub your glass tea ware.
Taking a nickel-sized amount of toothpaste on an old toothbrush or a washcloth, scrub the stained area thoroughly.
If the toothpaste contains hydrogen peroxide or other bleaching agents, allow the toothpaste to remain on the surface of the stain for about 30 minutes after scrubbing. With a clean, damp washcloth, wipe the toothpaste away.
Other grocery items in your home that can be used as scouring agents include salt, sugar, and rice. Any of these ingredients can be combined with water to make a paste for scrubbing your glassware.
Melamine foam is a fantastic option when searching for an item to scrub away tough stains. All you have to do is sufficiently dampen the foam, wring it out, and begin scrubbing the stain.
The coarsest option for physical scrubbing agents is steel wool. There is no wool in steel wool. It is made up of tiny fibers of metal woven and bunched together. Once the fibers are bunched together, they resemble wool.
Steel wool has been trusted for over a hundred years to clean metal cookware. When used with appropriate force, it can also remove stubborn stains from glassware.
Using the least amount of pressure possible, begin scrubbing the affected area. If the stain does not begin to lift, apply a bit more pressure until the stain is sufficiently eliminated.
You have to be mindful of the amount of pressure you are using to scrub away the stain because the steel wool can scratch the surface of your glass tea supplies. Scratches may not seem serious but they can lead to chipping and cracking, as well as creating a more porous environment for future stains to grab onto.
Additionally, you can combine the chemical and physical cleaning supplies we have discussed. You could purchase steel wool pads that contain soap, melamine foam that’s infused with cleaner, or even make your own combination.
A simple way to clean your glasses is to combine vinegar and salt, seal the glass with your gloved hand, and shake it back and forth. The acetic acid in the vinegar will break down the stain while the salt provides physical exfoliation to lift the stain away from the surface.
Is There a Way to Prevent Tea Stains on Glass?
If stains are appearing in your glass tea kettle or pot, one way that you can prevent stains is to use a tea ball or tea infuser to hold your tea leaves. This will help keep your tea leaves from sticking to the interior of your pot and leaving a stain there.
Regular cleaning will prevent stains as well. Clean your glass tea ware immediately after use. If you brew a lot of tea regularly, you may benefit from purchasing an additional tea kettle or pot so you can still make tea while one pot is being cleaned.
Stains in tea pitchers can be remedied in the same way. The longer tea remains in the pitcher, the more potential there is for stains to form.
Consider making smaller batches. Not only will this keep your stains to a minimum by allowing routine cleaning of your pitcher but your iced tea will be renewed more frequently.
After washing your glassware, be sure to dry it completely prior to storing.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.