I’m a big tea drinker. Loose leaf, tea bags, dubious DIY stuff I’ve made from my own home grown camomile, valerian and geranium; I love tea. I start every day with what my partner calls a ‘bucket’ of tea in a giant mug that holds the volume of two average mugs. It explains why I always need to go to the bathroom at kinder drop off and when I’m at the market in the morning. While tea leaves generally end up in the compost with good reason, here are some other repurposes for tea leaves and bags.
1. Relieve tired eyes.
Take two used tea bags and place one on each of your eyes. Make sure they’ve cooled first. Leftover tea tannins can soothe puffiness.
2. Plant food.
On the subject of tannins and tannic acid, like with used coffee grounds, plants which prefer acidic soil can enjoy a little boost from used tea leaves. Sprinkle around acid loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, roses, citrus trees, blueberry bushes and ferns. Cover the tea leaves with mulch, otherwise the rotting tea leaves will attract pests.
3. Moisture boost for potted plants.
When potting plants, place some used tea bags above the drainage layer in the pot, top with soil and the plant. Tea bags will retain moisture; a cheaper and more natural version of those water retaining crystals.
4. Soothe sunburn and other burns.
Pop cooled used teabags on sore hot spots or dump a few in a cool bath and submerge yourself. Apparently even razor burn can be relieved with a tea bag.
Like with coffee grounds, green tea leaves can be an instant deodoriser for hands that have been in contact with smelly things. Wash and scrub your hands with wet used green tea leaves. You can put a small bowl full of used green tea bags in your fridge to remove smells. Rubbing chopping boards and food preparation areas with used tea leaves helps lift odours also.
6. Foot bath.
You may not have stinky feet, but someone in your house might. Make them have a daily foot bath with hot water and some used tea leaves or bags. Reusing tea bags is also an excellent excuse to give yourself a warm footbath even when you don’t have smelly feet.
This sounds weird, but my childhood is full of memories of old ladies taking their used tea bags and rubbing them against a sticky table or dusty windowsill to clean it before dropping the bag into the bin. Seemed to work.