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What to do with leftover or used tea bags or tea leaves

Updated on June 4, 2010

"Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things". - Saki

What comes in white, black, green, yellow, oolong and pu-erh?  Tea, of course!  According to the Tea Association of the United States, tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide after water.  In America alone, 2.2 billion gallons of tea are consumed each year.  Tea has dramatically gained popularity in recent years and can be enjoyed in tearooms and coffee shops all across the country as well as in the comfort of one's own home.

If you are a tea drinker, perhaps you have some old boxes of tea stashed away somewhere in the pantry.  Maybe it's past its expiration date or maybe you just have so much of it that you don't know what to do with it.  Maybe you wonder what else you can do with your used tea bags or leaves besides just throwing them away.  If that's the case, or even if you are just looking for other alternative uses for tealeaves, consider using your tea for these:


Make tea pottage


2 medium sized potatoes

1 onion

1 cube of consommé

2 cups of water

100 cc of milk

A pinch of salt

A little fresh cream

As much powdered green tea as you like


1. Peel potatoes and onions and chop them up to bite sizes.

2. Add 2 cups of water in a saucepan and put in the consommé cube.

3. Boil potatoes and onion in the broth.

4. When veggies are soft, put them in a blender and blend until smooth.

5. Transfer back to the saucepan. Add milk with powdered tea dissolved in it, salt, and top with fresh cream.

6. Serve

Make furikake

Furikake is a kind of Japanese condiment used to sprinkle on rice (tastes much better on hot, steaming rice).  To make this, first roast tea leaves in a frying pan until crispy (no oil).  If you stop here, you will have made yourself Houji-cha (another kind of Japanese tea).  To make furikake, add a little bit of soy sauce or salt to taste.

Use as antiseptics to treat athlete's foot

Make tea using only a small amount of water for a concentrated liquid and rub on affected area or make enough to soak your whole feet in.  You can also use old tea bags (should be wet and warm) and apply directly.  For better results, use plastic wrap to strap the tea bags onto your feet and leave them on for 10-15 minutes.  Do this everyday for 7-10 days.  The Japanese also use tea leaves in other folk remedies to treat minor cuts and skin infections.

Use to absorb odor

Put old tea leaves in small cotton bags and place them in places that need freshening up such as inside shoes, closets or in drawers.

Use in a cake

Finely chop tea leaves and put them in your cake batter next time you're baking a sponge cake! 

Burn as incense

Place tea leaves on a non-inflammable incense burner and light the candle for calming and relaxing aromatherapy.  This also serves as a natural air freshener and insect repellent.

Make a tea pillow

If you have problems falling asleep at night, consider stuffing dried tealeaves inside your pillow.  Take care to hang your pillow out in the sun at least once a week since tealeaves absorb moisture.  The aroma from the tea leaves can have a tranquilizing effect, which helps give you a restful sleep.

Make tempura

Tempura is fish or seafood and vegetables dipped in batter and deep fried.  This dish originated in the mid-16th century when the Japanese adopted (and adapted) the Portuguese custom of frying game.  To make tea tempura, simply add tea leaves into tempura batter and deep fry or mix the tea leaves with prawns and other veggies such as sliced onions and julienned carrots to make kakiage

Relax in a tea bath


Take a tea bath

Put about 20-30 grams of tea leaves in bags and let float in a bathtub.  Tea leaves contain vitamin C and tannin, which helps with circulation.  Tannin also helps keep skin moist and supple and can help combat acne or other skin conditions.  The anti-bacterial properties of catechin found in tea are thought to help protect and soothe the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.


Tea leaves are rich in nitrogen and have soil amending properties, so grind them up and mix them in soil to use as fertilizer. Also, tea leaves are slightly acidic, so they can be used to neutralize soil or add acid to soil. In flower pots, scatter old tealeaves on the bottom to facilitate better drainage. You can also use old tea leaves in a compost pile (like pretty much everything else!).

Hopefully, these ideas will help you to make full use of your old tea leaves or bags next time you have some leftover tea lying around your house!


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    • howcurecancer profile image

      Elena@LessIsHealthy 6 years ago

      great tips, one vote up.

    • yuvraj06 profile image

      yuvraj06 7 years ago from PUNE

      Anolide ur hub is superb & i want to know the name of your baby??? boy or girl???

    • Anolinde profile image

      Anolinde 7 years ago

      Thanks, PhotoTijn :)

    • PhotoTljn7 profile image

      PhotoTljn7 7 years ago from United States

      Thank you Anolinde! Who knew... GREAT TIPS!

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      they all are effective,inclusive mud bath,check it out.

    • Anolinde profile image

      Anolinde 7 years ago

      Thanks, Suny :) They do have all kinds of baths here .. tea baths, wine baths, sake baths, coffee baths, fruit baths, and on and on. I haven't tried them all, but they all sound fun to me!

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      I wont make a comment,Anolinde that may spoil the flavor of such a great hub, the bath with green tea,