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.
Most 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 😉