7 Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves - Full Leaf Tea Company

7 Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves

Kaci Barnes

7 Ways to Reuse Tea Leaves

Repurposing used tea leaves offers a sustainable and eco-friendly way to make the most of your tea consumption. Beyond the teacup, these leaves can find valuable applications throughout your home. For example, dried tea leaves can serve as an effective natural scrub or cleaning agent, gently removing stains and grime from various surfaces. They can also act as an organic and nutrient-rich addition to your compost pile, enriching the soil and promoting healthier plant growth. Moreover, used tea leaves can function as a natural pest repellent, helping keep unwelcome insects at bay in your garden. Embracing these sustainable uses not only reduces waste but also adds versatility to your tea ritual, making it a win-win for both your household and the environment.

Gardening tools, plants, and soil with text on tea leaves recycling.

1. Pest Repellent

Steeped tea leaves can serve as an effective and natural pest repellent in your garden. Many gardeners have found that scattering dried tea leaves around their plants can help deter common pests like snails and slugs. These critters often avoid crossing tea leaves due to the texture and scent, making it an eco-friendly way to protect your plants. The caffeine in tea leaves may also play a role in repelling pests, as it can disrupt their nervous systems.

To utilize tea leaves as a pest repellent, simply allow used tea leaves to dry thoroughly. Once dried, scatter them evenly around the base of your plants or create a protective border. As the pests encounter the tea leaves, they're more likely to steer clear of your prized garden. This method is not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective and safe for your plants, making it an excellent addition to your pest control arsenal.

2. Odor Absorber

Used tea leaves can be a valuable natural solution for effectively absorbing and neutralizing unpleasant odors, making them an excellent choice for improving the air quality in your home. After steeping your tea, allow the used tea leaves to cool and dry thoroughly. Once dried, place the tea leaves into a small cloth bag or sachet, and thoughtfully position these natural odor absorbers in areas where unwanted smells tend to accumulate, such as inside the refrigerator, within shoes, or inside closets. 


Over time, the tea leaves will go to work as a natural deodorizer, actively absorbing and neutralizing odors in their vicinity. Their porous texture makes them highly efficient at trapping and eliminating unpleasant scents, ultimately leaving behind a fresher and more pleasant living environment. This eco-friendly and budget-friendly approach to odor control is a greener alternative to chemical-based air fresheners, contributing not only to a healthier atmosphere but also to a more environmentally conscious home.

Charcoal pieces and green leaves with text on odor absorption.

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. 

Three dark bottles with spray nozzle and flowers on paper, text about cleaning with tea leaves.

5. Cooking


Harnessing the potential of used tea leaves can elevate your culinary experiences, introducing a distinctive and captivating dimension to an array of dishes. The versatility of this ingredient shines through, with the capacity to infuse your recipes with the nuanced flavors and enticing aromas associated with different tea varieties. Take, for instance, green tea leaves, which can be finely ground and used as a captivating seasoning or spice, imparting a subtle earthy essence to a diverse array of dishes, from aromatic stir-fries to fragrant rice creations and flavorful marinades.

Black tea leaves, on the other hand, unleash a rich and robust flavor profile that can be harmoniously integrated into savory recipes like hearty stews, soul-warming braised dishes, or even as an invigorating meat rub.

 

 This versatile ingredient also extends its creative influence into the realm of baking, where used tea leaves can be seamlessly woven into the fabric of your bread, cookies, cakes, or desserts, rendering them truly exceptional. By incorporating these flavorful remnants of your tea sessions, you embark on a culinary journey marked by innovation and a harmonious blending of taste and tradition, allowing your dishes to resonate with an unforgettable tea-infused charm. 

6. Compost and Fertilizer

Composting tea leaves enriches compost and benefits plants. Mix them with other compostables like veggie scraps and yard waste for a balanced carbon-nitrogen mix. Tea leaves provide nitrogen, aiding decomposition and offering plant nutrients. Avoid synthetic tea bags; use natural or loose leaves. As tea breaks down, it improves soil structure and water retention, leading to healthier plants. It fosters beneficial microorganisms, aiding decomposition and creating nutrient-rich compost. Incorporating used tea leaves in compost reduces waste and benefits your garden.


Repurposing used tea leaves as fertilizer presents an eco-friendly and beneficial approach to nurturing your plants. Tea leaves contain a wealth of precious organic matter and nutrients that can significantly enrich the soil, ultimately leading to improved plant growth. After brewing your tea, it's advisable to allow the used tea leaves to cool down. Once cooled, you can effectively utilize them by evenly scattering them around the base of your plants or incorporating them into the soil itself.

Gardening trowel, soil, plant, and compost bag with informative text.

As these tea leaves undergo decomposition, they gradually release an array of vital nutrients into the soil, including essential elements like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients play pivotal roles in sustaining robust plant development and promoting overall health. Consequently, this natural fertilizer not only bolsters soil fertility but also enhances the accessibility of essential nutrients to your cherished plants. This, in turn, fosters a thriving and vibrant garden or collection of plants that benefit from the organic goodness of your recycled tea leaves.

7. Natural Dye

Repurposing used tea leaves as a natural dye is not only an eco-conscious choice but also a creative way to add unique, earthy hues to your DIY projects. After collecting and thoroughly drying the tea leaves, you can create a dye bath by boiling them. The tannins in the tea leaves infuse the water with a range of colors, depending on the type of tea used. Once the dye bath is prepared, immerse your fabric or material, allowing it to soak for varying durations to achieve different shades. This eco-friendly approach to dyeing offers beautiful and sustainable results without relying on synthetic chemicals. Whether you're dyeing clothing, fabric, or even paper, using tea leaves as a natural dye is a creative and environmentally friendly choice for adding distinctive colors to your creations.