6 Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves - Full Leaf Tea Company

6 Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves

Carly Pearl-Sacks
Reusing tea leaves after you have steeped them is a great way to get the most out of each serving of tea! The easiest way to reuse tea leaves is to make a second (and third) cup of tea from the same batch of tea leaves by adding a few minutes to the recommended steeping time as the leaves will lose some potency with each steep.

 

Once you're done drinking your tea, you can lay your tea leaves out on a plate or paper towel to dry and then try some of our favorite ways to reuse tea leaves!

 

1. Fertilizer

Using used tea leaves as fertilizer is a fantastic way to repurpose them and provide nutrient-rich nourishment to your plants. Tea leaves are packed with valuable organic matter and nutrients that can benefit the soil and promote plant growth. After steeping tea, allow the used tea leaves to cool and then scatter them around the base of your plants or work them into the soil. As the tea leaves decompose, they release nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which are essential for healthy plant development. This natural fertilizer can help improve soil fertility, enhance nutrient availability, and support overall plant growth. 

2. Odor Absorber

Used tea leaves can serve as a natural and effective odor absorber, helping to eliminate unwanted smells in your home. Place the cooled and dried tea leaves in a small cloth bag or sachet and strategically position them in areas with unpleasant odors, such as the refrigerator, shoes, or closets. The tea leaves act as a natural deodorizer, absorbing and neutralizing odors over time. Their porous nature enables them to trap and eliminate the offending smells, leaving behind a fresher environment. This natural approach to odor control offers an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to chemical-based air fresheners, contributing to a healthier and more inviting living space.

3. Facial or Bath Toner (for leftover steeped tea)

Used tea leaves can be repurposed to create a natural and refreshing facial or bath toner. After brewing a cup of tea, allow the used tea leaves to cool. Strain the liquid and transfer it to a spray bottle or container. This infused tea can be used as a facial toner by spritzing it onto clean skin or applied with a cotton pad. The natural compounds in tea, such as antioxidants and polyphenols, can help tone the skin, minimize pores, and restore the skin's pH balance. Tea toners can also provide a gentle refreshing sensation, leaving the skin feeling revitalized and rejuvenated.

In addition to being used as a facial toner, tea-infused water can also be added to your bath for a soothing and aromatic experience. Simply strain the used tea leaves and add the infused liquid to your bathwater. The herbal properties of the tea, such as chamomile, lavender, or green tea, can help relax the body and mind, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. The aromatic scent of the tea can enhance the bathing experience, creating a serene and calming atmosphere. Whether used as a facial toner or in the bath, repurposing used tea leaves can be a natural and sustainable way to incorporate the benefits of tea into your skincare and self-care routines.

4. Cleaning Solution

Used tea leaves can be utilized as a natural and eco-friendly cleaning solution for various surfaces in your home. After steeping tea, allow the used tea leaves to cool and transfer them to a container. Add white vinegar or lemon juice to the container and let the mixture sit for a few days, allowing the tea leaves to infuse their properties into the liquid. Strain the mixture and transfer it to a spray bottle. The resulting tea-infused cleaning solution can be used to clean surfaces like countertops, glass, and mirrors. The natural acidity of the tea, combined with the cleaning power of vinegar or lemon juice, creates an effective solution for removing dirt, grime, and stains.

Tea leaves, particularly green tea, contain tannins that have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making them beneficial for cleaning purposes. The tea-infused cleaning solution can help sanitize surfaces while leaving behind a natural and fresh scent. Additionally, the gentle nature of tea makes it a suitable option for delicate surfaces that may be sensitive to harsh chemicals. 

5. Cooking

Used tea leaves can be a unique and flavorful addition to your culinary creations, offering a delightful twist to various dishes. Depending on the type of tea, the infused leaves can impart their distinct flavors and aromas to a wide range of recipes. For example, green tea leaves can be finely ground and used as a seasoning or spice to add a subtle earthy flavor to dishes like stir-fries, rice, or marinades. Similarly, black tea leaves can infuse a rich and robust taste to savory recipes such as stews, braises, or even as a rub for meats. Additionally, tea leaves can be a creative ingredient in baking as well. Incorporate used tea leaves into bread, cookies, cakes, or desserts to infuse them with unique flavors.

6. Compost

Composting used tea leaves is an excellent way to reduce waste and nourish your garden or plants. Tea leaves are rich in organic matter and contain beneficial nutrients that can contribute to the health of your compost. When adding tea leaves to your compost pile, make sure to mix them well with other compostable materials such as vegetable scraps, fruit peels, and yard waste. This helps create a balanced mix of carbon and nitrogen, allowing the compost to break down efficiently. The tea leaves will contribute nitrogen to the compost, aiding in the decomposition process and providing essential nutrients for the plants when the compost is applied to the soil. Remember to avoid composting tea bags that are made of synthetic materials or have metal staples. Opt for tea bags made of natural, compostable materials or use loose tea leaves instead.

As the tea leaves break down in the compost, they help to improve the soil structure and enhance its water-holding capacity. This can result in healthier plants with stronger root systems. The organic matter from the tea leaves also encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the compost, which further aids in the decomposition process and creates a nutrient-rich end product. Whether you have a backyard compost pile or use a compost bin, incorporating used tea leaves is a sustainable practice that adds valuable organic matter to your compost, reducing waste and benefiting your garden or plants in the long run.