Obviously my favourite use for tea is as a delicious health-promoting beverage, but I love finding new ways to incorporate tea into my life. I scoured the internet to find other uses for tea – either loose tea leaves, new or used tea bags. I was amazed at the versatility of tea – just another reason to love it!
1. Deodorize fridges: Place loose black tea leaves or used tea bags in the fridge to absorb odours.
2. Spice up your lingerie: Place loose herbal tea leaves in a muslin bag (or use a new tea bag – try chai or another spicy blend) and place in your lingerie drawer to add a subtle spice to your unmentionables.
3. Clear out kitty litter odours: Used tea leaves can help deodorize kitty litter boxes. Dry out used green tea leaves and mix into the litter.
4. Clean carpets: Sprinkle dry, used green tea, mint, vanilla or spiced tea leaves onto dirty or musty carpets. Leave in place for 10-15 minutes, then vacuum up. Mint and other herbal teas leave a nice fresh scent without the chemical residue of carpet cleaners.
5. Clean surfaces: A number of different surfaces can be cleaned with tea. Mirrors, windows and white boards are easily cleaned with a cool tea solution (or simply wipe the surface with a cool, wet green tea bag).
6. Polish wood furniture: Brewed black or green tea (both have a high tannin content) can help clean and shine wood furniture. Dip a soft cloth in a small amount of cooled brewed tea (freshly brewed and cooled tea works best) and use to wipe down tables, chairs and other wood furniture.
7. Tenderize meat: A great substitute for meat tenderizer, place 4 tablespoons of black tea leaves in 3 cups of warm water and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the leaves and place meat in tea solution before cooking. Works best for pot roast or other oven-baked meat.
8. Flavour foods: Place tea in an infuser and drop in rice while cooking for tea-infused flavour (try making a chai-spice brown rice then using it to make a decadent oven-baked rice pudding!)
9. Soothe tired eyes: Place brewed chamomile, black or green tea bags (let them cool until they are warm, but not hot to the touch) over tired eyes for 5-15 minutes. This can reduce puffiness and hydrate the skin around the eyes.
10. Soothe pain of pinkeye: Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) can be quite painful. Use a warm, wet tea bag (try chamomile, Rooibos, green or black tea) as a compress to soothe the itching and pain of pinkeye.
11. Soothe a sunburn: If you don’t have any aloe around, you can use wet tea bags to soothe sunburn and other minor burns. Be sure to cool the teabag before applying it to burnt skin. If you are burnt all over, take a bath in tea infused water.
12. Soothe razor burn: Apply a warm wet black or green tea bag to skin irritated by razor burn. The tea will soothe the irritation and calm the redness.
13. Soothe a lost tooth: When your child looses a tooth, soak a tea bag in cool water and place it on the site to stop bleeding and reduce the pain. (Decaffeinated black tea bags or peppermint tea are a good choice if doing this for a child!)
14. Condition dry hair: If you have dry hair, try a tea rinse. Brew a strong black or green tea, apply to hair and allow to dry. Rinse with water once hair is dry. Will leave hair softer and with more shine.
15. Cleanse face and body: Tea is a rich source of antioxidants and some people claim that it can be used to protect and beautify the skin. Instead of using water, consider washing your face with green tea (said to help clear acne) or taking a bath in green tea infused water.
16. Resolve foot odour: Soak your feet in strong tea for 20 minutes daily to reduce foot odour. A mixture of black and peppermint teas is particularly effective for this purpose – the tannins in the black tea will decrease sweating and eliminate odour causing bacteria, while the peppermint is cooling, refreshing and adds a pleasant fragrance.
17. Dry poison ivy rash: A strongly brewed black tea can be used to help dry a weepy poison ivy rash. Simply dip a cotton ball into the tea, dab it onto the rash and allow to air-dry. Repeat as needed.
18. Fertilize roses: Roses appreciate the acidic nature of tea (especially the tannic acid). Spread used black or green tea leaves around rosebushes, then add mulch and water.
19. Feed houseplants: Use cold brewed tea once per week instead of water to feed ferns and other houseplants that thrive in an acidic soil (most plants that bloom). See here for a list of acid-loving houseplants.
20. Encourage compost: Add strong tea to a compost bin (also put your used tea leaves in the compost!) to speed up the decomposition process and encourage the growth of friendly bacteria.
21. Freshen up your car: Place loose lavender, chamomile or other soothing herbal teas in a bag under the seat to fight odours (and fight road rage!)
22. Dye paper and fabrics: Green and black teas can be used to dye fabric and paper to give it an antique appearance.
23. Paint with tea: Experiment with tea as paint or to accent black and white sketches for a weathered look.
24. Tell the future: Reading tea leaves is an ancient art that can be entertaining and enlightening. Join Sax Francisco monthly at Steeped and Infused for the very popular Tea Reading Workshops.
25. Improve sleep: Make a tea leaf pillow. Use dry loose tea leaves (brewed or unbrewed) and fill a small pillow for your bed. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners suggest using green tea so that you will wake ‘clear headed and fast thinking’. Herbalists suggest using chamomile, lavender, or passionflower to calm the mind and relax the body for a more restful sleep.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.