Using Brown Amber bottles for essiac tea

Colored or amber bottles are used to protect essiac tea from the degenerative effects of light. You can find them online for as little as 98¢ each or you can use “freebies” you already have.

The amber bottles are known in the US as “Amber Boston Round” and in the UK they are called “Amber Winchester”. The 16 oz. size is nice because they fit on a refrigerator door shelf. If you order 2 cases (24 bottles), you have plenty of leeway when it comes time to make a new batch and for giving bottles of tea away to friends. 32 oz. bottles could be rather clumsy to keep in refrigerator but you can store them in a dark cool place too. Always refrigerate an opened bottle.

The 16 oz size equals one pint and since there are 8 pints in a gallon (2 pints to a quart, 4 quarts to a gallon), you’d think 8 bottles would be needed for each gallon of water. But, since water is lost in boiling and strained-out sludge, if you use 2 gallons of water in the preparation, you will end up with about 13 – 14 bottles of tea (208 – 224 oz), depending on how many of the herbs are cut instead of powdered. The sludge of cut herbs soaks up more water.

Approximate number of bottles needed:

  • Fourteen 16-ounce pint bottles, or seven 32-ounce quart bottles if using
    1 cup herb mix + 2 gallons of water (yield of about 224 liquid ounces of tea).
  • Seven 16-ounce bottles, or three and a half 32-ounce quart bottles if using
    1/2 cup herb mix + 1 gallon of water (yield of about 112 liquid ounces of tea)
  • Three and a half 16-ounce bottles, or almost two 32-ounce quart bottles if using
    1/4 cup herb mix + 1/2 gallon of water (yield of about 56 liquid ounces of tea).

Do I need to sterilize the bottles?

All bottles and caps must be sterilized before filling with tea.

Wash bottles and caps with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. To sterilize with 3% hydrogen peroxide (food grade 35% is hard to find), fill a bottle half-way with peroxide, shake well and pour the peroxide from it into the next bottle. After the peroxide has been used for 3 bottles, discard and use fresh peroxide. Rinse well with distilled water, drain and let dry. Other ways of sterilizing is 1/2 teaspoon of Clorox to one gallon of distilled water (rinsing thoroughly), or by boiling the bottles.

What about using plastic bottles to store essiac tea?

That’s a no-no, always use glass. Because essiac tea is acidic, it has traditionally been stored in glass containers because glass is inert or chemically unreactive. Plastic can react and “gas off” into the tea, especially if the bottle is an inferior resiliant plastic — fine for storing ketchup, but not essiac tea. The same applies to storing dry essiac herbs in “grocery store” plastic baggies and ziplocks for an extended period of time,store them properly in glass jars in a dark cool place.

Why store a dark-colored bottle in a dark refrigerator?

Chris Corpening R.N. has something to say about that:

I am not aware of any available data that has tested the time factor and the amount of light subjected to herbs (in terms of diminishing quality). In other words, I see the common sense in the question. However I prefer to follow on the side of caution.

So, if it is a known fact that light is an enemy of herbs, why not care for your product as such? None of us can say for sure that tea bottles subjected to light during the brief 2-3 week period would have any or no effect on the potency of the tea (unless tests have been done). I advise my customers to put the bottle(s) in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator if they are using clear-glass bottles or jars.

The lid or cap is important, it should not be made of metal because of the potential for adversely interacting with the tea. Plastic caps may have liners to help seal, eventually they become worn out or fall out.


“Freebies” are bottles you might already have around — try to avoid metal caps.

One reader buys prune juice, throws out the juice and uses the dark amber bottle. Another uses colored wine bottles but did not say what he did with the wine. 🙂

Eric writes:

I found a steady supply of the amber bottles when we were brewing the tea for my mother — chemo and surgery-surviver! We used the bottles my aloe vera gel was sold in. I drank the gel, filled the empties with essiac tea. Everybody was glowing.

Donna writes:

Recently I began brewing essiac for my father. I found that IBC Root Beer comes in quart size amber bottles with screw-type lids for about $1.59. These appear to be widely available, at least they are in northwest Pennsylvania where we are.

Marie writes:

I use the IBC Root Beer quart bottles too. Wal-Mart has them, a recent price was 68¢ per quart. The caps are screw plastic caps. We sterilize the caps and bottles utilizing the microwave method.

Susan writes:

I found Schweppe’s ginger ale in 10 oz. green glass bottles with plastic lids. The green isn’t dark enough so my little bottles are wearing alumnimum foil jackets. Did I drink all the ginger ale? Burp — managed to drink four of the six in the pack, with help from husband and daughter. The sink enjoyed the other two!

How to Sterilize Amber Glass Essiac Bottles

When you have emptied a bottle (used up the tea in it), rinse the bottle out out and fill to the top with tap water, screw the cap on and store somewhere until it’s time to wash and sterilize all of your bottles for a new batch of tea. This way any residue won’t dry out and make washing more difficult.

Washing the bottles and caps

During or after 10-12 hour steep of new tea, wash and rinse the bottles and caps. Your dish detergent may create so many bubbles they are hard to rinse out. Fill 1/2 full of hot soapy water and shake, let them sit until you are done shaking each bottle. Soak the caps in hot soapy water, then rinse bottles and caps thoroughly. About using a bottle brush, a cheap one is available that can get into the narrow bottle necks, it has foam strips bunched up at the tip.

There are several ways to sterilize, choose the one that is easiest for you:

  • Boiling — this is like sterilizing canning jars or baby bottles
    Place bottles and caps in kettle, add water to completely cover them.
    Bring water to boil and boil for five minutes.
    Turn off heat, use tongs to lift the items out or allow kettle cool just enough so you can pour off water and remove items. Let bottles and caps drain and dry in dishrack a few minutes.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide — from supermarket or drugstore, cheapest brand is fine.
    Buy a fresh 16oz bottle of 3% strength hydrogen peroxide (so it won’t be opened and old).
    Fill first bottle 1/2 full of hydrogen peroxide and shake well.
    Then pour first bottle’s peroxide into second bottle and shake well.
    Keep pouring and shaking the peroxide from bottle to bottle until finished, adding more peroxide if necessary. Meanwhile, have caps soaking in some peroxide.
    Rinse out bottles and caps well with hot water.
  • Clorox — or equivalent plain laundry or household bleach
    Add 1/2 teaspoon Clorox to one gallon of water (using an empty or full distilled water bottle).
    Line up bottles in sink and fill each to top with Clorox water, soak caps in some in little dish.
    Let soak for 5 minutes, then rinse out bottles and caps thoroughly with hot water.


The methods above are suited to 16oz (pint) amber glass Boston Round bottles. If you use the 32oz (quart) amber bottle size, you may need to buy 2 bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide or a bigger size.

Trying to wash and sterilize amber glass Boston Round bottles in a dishwasher isn’t advised since the bottle necks are so narrow the detergent and rinse sprays don’t reach inside the bottles well.

The boiling method is good and I think using Hydrogen Peroxide is better than Clorox, because the peroxide evaporates completely and if there was any left in the tea it would be less harmful.

Now I am going to surprise you — I do not use amber glass Boston Round bottles!

Because I make just enough essiac tea to last a few days (four days max) for family and dogs,
I don’t worry about the jar’s glass color. I use Ball or Kerr canning jars (pint or quart), most of the time they aren’t the wide-mouth kind because I need those to store dry herbs and they are harder to pour from. In a pinch, however, I will use any glass jar with a lid that has an opening big enough to come real clean in my very good dishwasher — so I don’t use any of the sterilizing methods above.

It’s dark in a refrigerator most of the time (especially if you are at work or out all day), so I don’t even “bag” my refrigerated essiac tea jar. I never make unopened tea “to store in a cool, dark closet”.

Remember, you can do it “my way” only if you make just enough tea to use up in a few days.
The Pet FAQ tells how much essiac mix to use to make just one pint or quart of tea at a time.

I think it’s a lot harder doing the amber bottle thing (sterilizing, storing) than to make the tea often. Brewing the tea is so easy that making it fresh every few days can become a simple routine.

Try it sometime!