A lot of used tealeaves are thrown out here on a daily basis. Any day now I’ll get around to making some compost but in the mean time I came across a couple of articles on the uses of tea around the house. The general idea is that the chemicals in the tealeaves are not all removed (especially with low numbers of steepings) so some properties are retained and can be useful.

used leavesMost of these exploits involve the wet leaves straight after brewing and are used as skin treatments (acne, wart removal, eye compress), as cleaners and, of course as fertilisers. Roses in particular seem to like the acidic tannins in tea and benefit from the traces of nitrogen in the leaves. Earthworms like their tea too! As the earthworms prosper on the tealeaves they will enrich the soil.

An interesting option that I came across involves drying out the tealeaves after they’ve been used- the Japanese call this chagara. These dried leaves are sometimes used as seasoning in Japanese cooking.

Apart from cooking, the dried leaves have a range of other applications. They can be positioned in all the places where odours need to be neutralised. Loose leaves can be put directly in the fridge, cupboard or the cat litter box to act as a deodoriser, but they need to be wrapped up somehow if they are used in a gym bag or for shoes. Another use is to sprinkle dried tealeaves on the carpet before vacuuming to remove odours and dust.

The dried leaves can also be used as a fertiliser to sprinkle over plants. Crumbling the dried leaves avoids rotting that can happen when wet leaves are put on indoor plants.

I haven’t tried this but apparently the dried leaves can be packed into a pillowcase to make a tea pillow that aids restful sleep. These tea pillows need to be aired regularly to make sure they stay dry.

Now – no more excuses for binning old tea leaves ;-)


Radio documentary on tea

This Saturday, July 12th at 7am and Sunday, July 13th at 6pm Newstalk have a documentary that will explore the reasons why Irish people drink so much tea.

Producer Caoilin Rafferty uncovers the many secrets behind Irish tea, why we are one of the biggest tea drinking nations in the world and how our tea taste habits have changed throughout the years

The feature documentary also examines the tea rations in Ireland during World War 2, which consequently lead to the set up of the Irish Tea Importers Ltd. This meant the Irish bypassed the London Tea Auctions and bought quality tea direct from source themselves.

Tea Please also takes a trip down memory lane to talk to those who grew up drinking orthodox leaf tea and how tea bags changed everything in the seventies.

The show can be heard live on the Newstalk online player ( and will be available as a podcast afterwards.

Dolfin Earl Grey Chocolate

Earl Grey Chocolate

Dolfin Earl Grey Chocolate

I picked up this packet of Dolfin Earl Grey Chocolate in Belgium. Plenty of chocolatiers are making tea-flavoured chocolate but it’s still not that common to find here (apart from matcha Kit Kats!).

I’m definitely not an expert but buying chocolate in Belgium seemed like a safe bet. This is dark chocolate but only has 52% cocoa. On the positive side, the flavour of earl grey is subtle, it’s not overly sweet and the tea in the chocolate makes a natural crunch that is pleasant. The outer packaging is not bad either with its cute resealable envelope pouch. On the negative side, the chocolate is not smooth but grainy and doesn’t melt easily so I ended up chewing the chocolate. I found the quality of the chocolate too distracting to enjoy the taste and unusually (for me) the bar has been left untouched for several weeks. I think Earl Grey has the potential to go very well with dark chocolate but this Dolfin bar just didn’t pull it off.