Ahhh, nothing like a hot cuppa in the morning to get the day off to a good start. Hot tea, cold tea, green tea, mint tea...the list goes on and on. There's a type of tea for everyone and it's no surprise we drink so much of it.
In fact, our love of tea is so great in the UK that we get through a massive 165 million cups daily - that's a hell of a lot of teabags! The question is, what do we do with them all? If you're guilty of throwing yours in the bin, shame. On. You. There are so many amazing uses for your brewed bags that there's really no excuse not to recycle every single one. Here are 15 of my personal favourites:
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1. Add tea to flavour your cooking
Does your rice need a bit of oomph? Pop a few of your used teabags in the pot when cooking to add a whole new dimension to bland grains.
Fruit bags are great with porridge, and mint and green can add an interesting twist to a Chinese or Thai side dish. Experiment and see which give the best flavour to accompany your favourite dishes - you'll never want to eat boring, plain rice again.
2. Help neutralise household odours
Tea bags are great for reducing smelly odours that are lingering in your home.
Drip a few drops into the bottom of kitchen bins to neutralise bad smells, store used tea bags in a plastic container in the fridge to prevent wafts of smelly cheese when you open the door, and mix dried leaves from the bag in with your cat litter tray to keep feline smells at bay.
3. Degrease dirty dishes
Loads of washing up to do mid-party? Leave it for later. Pile up the sink with your plates, hot water and throw in a few used teabags. They'll help loosen any hard food and lift grease so that when you do get around to doing the dishes, it'll be super quick and easy.
4. Dye some fabric or clothing
Were you born in the wrong era? If you prefer something with a delicate 'vintage' look to modern and bold, this tea bag tip could be your new fashion friend.
Pop all your used tea bags into hot water over the stove, leave to brew, remove from heat and add your fabric, leaving it to absorb the new colour.
The more tea bags you add, the longer they brew for and longer your fabric soaks, the darker the colour. In my Autumn styling article, I spoke all about the 'perfect' Autumnal colour palette, and this nifty trick would provide just that. No need to go shopping for new clothes, after all.
5. Craft a DIY air freshener
Spilt milk, dog hair, muddy shoes - our cars take a beating with regards to smelly odours. Your purse will take a beating too if you invest in fancy air fresheners. Don't spend money - make your own.
Place your used and dried, flavoured tea bags in your car to keep smells at bay. The leaves will absorb the moisture in the air, a common cause of stale smelling interiors.
If you want something a bit prettier, you can place a few tea bags in a spare square of floral fabric and tie with a ribbon. For even more impact, add a few drops of essential oils to the bags.
6. Eliminate bad breath
Ever wondered why your gran is so into her mint tea? Maybe she's got a secret admirer she's not telling you about!
You can rebrew your used mint tea bags to create a refreshing and all-natural mouthwash. Just wait till the tea is cooled, remove the bags and gargle as normal. You can even decant the solution into smaller containers for kissably fresh breath on-the-go.
7. Pamper your feet
Phew - all this tea talk is making me want... tea! Well, I've got the perfect excuse for you to put your feet up - literally. Get the kettle on and prepare to sit back and relax.
Place the used tea bags in a large washing bowl full of warm water, pop your feet in and take 10. When you pull them out you'll have softer, more nourished skin, and fresh smelling tootsies.
8. Cook a juicy turkey
Want to serve up the best turkey ever this Christmas? Save the tea bags from the first teas of the day and place them in the pan with a cup of water when cooking. It'll result in the moistest turkey you've ever tasted. Your family will be so impressed, they'll wonder if you bought it!
9. Renew wood surfaces with a tea wash
If your wood surfaces are starting to look a little tired, you can use tea to refreshen them and add shine. Rebrew your used tea bags and wipe over wooden surfaces with a clean, well rung-out cloth.
10. Revitalise dry, damaged hair
All of us want the silky and lustrous hair that we see on the TV, but what's the secret to getting it? If you're sick of trying every product under the sun, why not give something more natural a go?
Save your day's tea bags and rebrew them. Use the solution after your shampoo to condition and nourish your hair and scalp. L'Oréal ad campaign here you come!
11. Make a nourishing compost
Want to have a garden that looks like something out of a landscape magazine? Get your plants growing like no tomorrow with some ultra-nourishing compost.
No need to spend money, just break open your used tea bags and add them to your compost. They will speed up the decomposition process, drawing in acid-producing bacteria which will help your garden to thrive.
12. Remove & prevent rust
A good pan can make all the difference to your cooking. Proper care after every use can make them last much longer, and reduce the need to replace them as often.
Get into the habit of wiping a used tea bag over the inside of your pan after cooking to keep them in good condition. The tannins in the leaves will prevent the oxidising process, leaving your pans sparkling for longer.
13. Deodorize hands with a tea scrub
Smelly hands after cooking with garlic or cleaning out the pet pen? No need to spend ten minutes scrubbing with soap - it'll dry out your skin and make it dry.
Use a natural remedy: rebrew a used tea bag and wash over hands to remove all sorts of unwelcome odours.
14. Relieve your eyes
Lack of beauty sleep got you looking tired and drawn? Do two things:
- Make a tea - tea makes everything better.
- Place the cooled tea bags over your eyes. The tannins in the tea will encourage blood circulation and reduce puffiness,
You'll look brighter, feel lifted and be ready to tackle the day in no time!
15. Feed your garden
Want super plants? Then you need super water! Simply empty out a couple of your used tea bags straight into your watering can before carrying out your plant care.
This is particularly good for plants that prefer less acidic soil, as the tea leaves nourish your plant and help keep it more alkaline.
Special thanks to...
UK based, We Are Tea for providing us with a selection of their gorgeous teas to use in our imagery. They've travelled far and wide to some of the best tea gardens around the world to ethically source tea of the highest quality. There’s not a dusty tea bag in sight - We Are Tea’s range is purely whole-leaf, and the carefully designed biodegradable corn-starch tea bags offer plenty of space for tea leaves to dance around and infuse fully.
We Are Tea are on a mission to un-complicate the world of whole-leaf tea, making is accessible and fuss-free. We've tried and we've tested, and we're officially addicted. It's whole tea leaves only from here on out!
Now we have more reason than ever to drink tea! Are you a tea addict? Shock me with how many cups you drink a day in the comments below.
Hi. Love your blog. I drink 8-10 cups a day. Sometimes more. Keep up the awesome tips.
Hey Cynthia. Thanks a lot for your kind comments - I'm a big tea lover too :)
Its got to be yorkshire tea
Each to their own, Gary! :)
Hi Dear, I was searching "how to make a tea bag?". Recently, I've seen your article and read it. You've explained very good. I really liked it. So, keep up the good work.
Hi Obaid. Thanks for your kind comments - I'm glad you enjoyed my article! :)
Hi Stephanie! I love all these greats hacks you put together for us, especially using stuff we'd usually throw away. I just wondered where your organisation is based, Stateside or UK?
Hi Andrew, Thanks for getting in touch :) We're based in Surrey, Uk. Hope that helps!
Do these ideas work for any kind of tea bag, including caffeine-free teas such as chamomile, dandelion root, nettle, etc?? Thanks!
Hi Wendy! Some will work better than others, as different kinds of teas have different health benefits, colours, flavours etc. Why not experiment and see what works for you?
I drink sooo much tea! Another good tip I’ve used myself: To ‘age’ paper for whatever purpose (art, invitations,decorative flowers,cards etc). Just rub a moist used teabag over the surface to achieve the desired effect and leave to dry. If you wish,you can then muss up the paper a bit before smoothing out to enhance the aged effect! Works a treat! Cold teabags also good for soothing wasp stings etc(my Dad always did that!).
I loved this trick when I was at school. I would tea-stain nearly all of my school projects and burn the edges to make them look even more aged! I'd not heard the tip about soothing wasp stings though, thanks for sharing!
Tea with a little milk but no sugar is my favourite way to start any day. It has helped me maintain a healthy weight all my life, but I enjoy it so much that even if it didn't I would hate to need to reduce my daily four or five mugs.
It's amazing what tea can do!
Apart from feed your garden, most of these the tea bag will still end up in the bin.It would be better if the bag was plastic free
Hi Sandra! They might end up in the bin eventually, but at least they will have been used more than once.
A used teabag in the bottom of a plant pot when reporting favourite plants helps to feed the plant and keep the soil moist.
Wonderful tip, John!
Hi love all your home tips i use them a lot I drink about 8-10 cups of tea a day keep all the good tips coming xx
That's so kind of you, Barbara! We're glad you enjoy the tips.
When I was a wee lassie my gran and mum would collect the tea leaves and dampen them down before spreading the leaves on the carpet, they were left for half a hour and brushed up leaving behind a fresh cleaned carpet. The damp leaves picked up hair dust and lifted the pile, there is a lot to be said for tea leaves .
That's very interesting, Catherine! I've not heard of them being used in this way before.
Hi there. Sorry to sound negative but I think the world would be a better place without tea bags. There are teapots and tea infusers and tea spoons which mean no tea bags are required to be used or re-used or binned :-) Still interesting to hear what people are doing with their used tea leaves... Regards from Anna (New Zealand)
That's very true, Anna!
Since putting used tea leaves on flower beds have not been bothered with cats digging up plants
Hi Colin! We're glad this worked for you. Putting used tea leaves on flower beds may help repel cats from digging up plants, but it's not a guaranteed solution. Other methods may also be effective, such as using commercial cat repellents or planting less attractive plants.
I use used tea bags in the bottom of plant pots when I'm repotting. They held provide some food and also retain some moisture.
Thanks for sharing! Putting used tea bags in the bottom of plant pots is a great idea, as they provide some nutrients and retain moisture.
Thanks for the info on tea bags l do throw mine in the garden but did not know there were so many other things you could do
You're welcome, Paul!
I love my tea and drink it black, weak and without sugar. I think on average I probably drink around 30-36 cups a day all of which are made by my husband. My tea of choice has to be Twinnings English Breakfast and when my hubby makes me a cup of tea he used one tea bag for 3 cups as this means he’s not getting up all the time making me cups of tea.
That's a great idea!
Hi there!...I keep my tea bag after drinking my cup of tea coz i felt guilty to throw it in the bin..And im thinking that i would search in the google maybe there were a tips on how to recycle tea bags and now i found this article.Thank you so much and God bless😊
We're glad we could help!
Several manufacturers are making tea bags compostable and plastic free - it's printed on the box. Much better as you can throw the whole thing in the compost or (as in my case) kitchen compost bin which are collected every week, or reuse as in your article with no waste going to landfill.
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