Whether it be because of an unwanted flavor or an expired label, unused tea bags may be taking up a ton of space in your kitchen or pantry since you might not have any idea what to do with them. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reuse tea bags.
Because of tea’s health properties, tea bags can be used for a variety of health benefits, especially for skin! Expired tea bags’ uses do not stop there, however, as tea bags are also helpful for a variety of around-the-house chores.
Knowing what to do with expired and/or unused tea bags is more important than it seems. First of all, it can open up space without your kitchen, cabinet, pantry, junk drawer, or wherever you keep unwanted tea bags.
This open space can be replaced by food or tea flavors that you will actually enjoy.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, reusing is one of the three pillars of sustainability (reduce, reuse, recycle). While reducing clutter in your own home, which is known to increase mood and decrease stress, you can also decrease your carbon footprint and create less trash waste.
Health Benefits of Tea
Tea has a large range of health benefits that tend to translate into the reuse of bags of tea. Many reuses take advantage of the health-benefiting properties of tea.
Tea contains antioxidants that work against what is essentially your body rusting. It also keeps us young and protects from damage such as pollution. Less-processed teas, such as a white tea instead of a black or green tea, have more beneficial antioxidants.
While it does not really translate into its reuse, it is a notable health benefit that tea has less caffeine than drinks such as coffee with sugar. Most herbal blends of tea have no caffeine at all and other teas have about less than half of what is found in caffeine in coffee counterparts.
The tea most similar to coffee is a chicory root-based tea, like Teeccino, that is known to reduce stress and aid your digestive tract with prebiotics.
Tea has been known to, according to many studies, reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke significantly. Green tea is specifically linked to these reductions, with the reduction to strokes being higher.
Four cups of green tea, or one cup of matcha green tea, is known to get you the maximum benefits. Tea has also been linked to weight loss, though not as strongly, and is sometimes taken in pill form to encourage the shedding of pounds.
This is partially due to the fact that tea without any added sugars or sweeteners with calories is calorie-free! This means that tea is a great alternative to water and does not add any calories to your diet at all.
This is especially nice because of the versatility of tea; it has a wide, wide range of flavors and can be served hot or cold. You can even add a cinnamon stick, ginger, or a sugar-free sweetener such as stevia.
Tea can be a very healthy and very convenient way to stay hydrated. If you want a sweet tea, try all-natural flavors like acai berry, pineapple, strawberry, or litchi.
Tea is truly versatile. While coffee leaves your teeth a sickly yellow stain, tea can decrease tooth loss, according to Japanese research.
Tea changes the pH within your mouth so whenever you drink it, you may be helping to prevent cavities. Tea, unlike coffee, soda, juice, and many other drinks, does not erode tooth enamel.
Outside of your mouth, tea can also have a super-beneficial effect on boosting your immune system. Tea can help improve the quality of your immune cells so that they are able to reach their personal targets more easily and quickly.
Holy basil and tulsi tea have historically been used to heal the immune system after injuries and/or illnesses because of their especially antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, though many other teas possess their qualities as well.
Herbal teas can also be used to soothe the digestive system, especially chamomile tea because it is an antispasmodic. Ginger tea helps to soothe nausea (check out these tips to make it taste better).
People with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can often find relief from flareups with both ginger and chamomile tea.
What to Do with Surplus Tea Bags
Whether or not they are expired, there are actually a variety of uses for old, unused tea bags! Plus, if you are an avid drinker of tea, hot or cold, you likely have a lot of leftover tea bags that just get thrown away.
There are many hidden uses for all of those tea bags!
- Stained Carpets: The leaves in a tea bag can be used to treat stains with your carpets if mixed with the right ingredients and done well. Start by creating a mixture of the tea leaves and at least twice as much baking soda; when mixed together, tea and baking soda are able to both trap dirt and eliminate odors. Once you have the mixture fully mixed, all you have to do is sprinkle the mixture over any odd parts of your carpet that may smell bad or look discolored. Leave the tea and baking soda mixture to soak for around 20 minutes before vacuuming the area that you saturated completely and thoroughly. Your carpets will look good as new, and smell just as fresh!
- All-Natural Moisturizer: Tea bags, even if they have already been used, can be used for their many benefits to inject some moisture into your dry and/or parched skin! First, make a normal cup of tea. Then, let the drink cool to a temperature that will not hurt your skin when applied. Lastly, put the cooled tea into a spray or squeeze bottle and label it. The concoction can be applied to your skin directly with the spray bottle or applied with a cotton pad or cotton ball. While any tea works, green tea is packed to the brim with antioxidants that your dry skin will be especially grateful for.
- Under-Eye Bags: This is a super-simple way to benefit from reusing your tea bags. Your tea bags can be used to decrease the puffiness and/or dark or purple circles under and around your eyes. Firstly, place your tea bags of choice in your refrigerator before simply holding the tea bags to your eyes for about five minutes. It is a very pleasant, relaxing use for tea bags and it works since the caffeine in the tea will shrink the blood vessels that are making your eyes look puffy and dark, like a racoon. This easy tea bag trick can leave you feeling and looking more awake and healthy!
- The Pain of a Sunburn: When you end up forgetting the sunscreen or staying out just a little bit too long, tea bags can help alleviate the burning hot pain of a sunburn. While all you really need is water in addition to the tea bags, of course, lavender essential oil and peppermint essential oil can make your mixture work even better. Mix all of the ingredients — a few cups of water, 12 drops of lavender essential oil, and 7 drops of peppermint essential oils — into a spray bottle. Store the bottle in the fridge for an extra-soothing coolness and apply as needed. Lavender is known to work on a variety of burns and stings as well. Black tea works the best since the tannic acid and theobromine help remove heat from sunburn. The catechins found in all teas help repair your broken skin!
- Sticky Stains on Kitchen Utensils: If you have a ton of grease ruining your pot or pan that you just cannot get clean, then simply placing a tea bag in the pot or pan and filling it with hot water will help! Allow the pan, hot water, and tea bag concoction to soak overnight and the tannins within the tea will loosen the sticky grease stuck to the dish. With the help of the tea bags and a little bit of patience, it will be super easy to scrub your previously sticky mess of a pan.
- Polish: Tea bags, especially those for particularly weak types of tea, can be used to restore an aesthetically pleasing shine to wooden fixtures like floors and furniture. In order to do this, steep your unwanted tea bags in warm water and make a weak tea. From there, all you have to do is apply the mixture to whatever wooden surface you wish to shine, and put in some elbow grease to apply a good buff to the surface. It is sure to start shining!
- Your Bath: The antioxidants and tannic acid in tea allows the tea to work as an eye-bag alleviator, a sunburn soother, and a skin moisturizer. Because of these same skin-loving properties, a few tea bags can be added to your bathtub for an extra-relaxing time! The tea bags will hydrate and soften your skin the same way they do with the spray bottle of green tea mentioned above.
- Firestarters: Tea bags make a great kindling for fires, bonfires, and campfires alike. Once the water is removed from the tea bags (if the tea bags were used at all) and the tea bags are extremely dry, they can be burned! For extra efficiency in starting the fire, you can dip the tea bags very easily into candle wax. Arrange the tea bags on aluminum tin foil until the wax on the tea bags has dried. From here, they can be lit on fire with an extra boost of flammable properties from the wax. They light quickly and add a bright burn to your campfire as well as helping it stay lit.
- Entertainment for Kids: For a quick activity, tea bags can be burned with adult supervision for children as they rise straight up and float in the air when burned correctly. Just set the tea bag upright and light it aflame!
- Air Freshener: Tea bags can be used as a sort of air freshener because of the way tea leaves are able to absorb and eliminate odors from their surroundings without exchanging them for any particularly strong tea scent. All it takes is placing a dry tea bag, used or expired, wherever you need a scent to be removed. This can be a dresser, a drawer, a cabinet, a closet, or even your shoes. They function similarly to small soaps placed in sock drawers.
- Your Hair: For the same reasons that make them great for dry and puffy skin, unused and expired tea bags can be used to make your hair silky, shiny, and smooth. All you need to do is make a strong tea using a few tea bags from your collection and hot water. Then allow the tea to cool completely so it will not burn your skin when you apply it. Before your next shower, pour the tea entirely over your hair until it is completely soaked from roots to ends. Let the tea seep into your hair for at least 10 minutes before getting into the shower, shampooing, and conditioning your hair as you normally would. Your hair will love the boost and added nutrients, and you will love the way your hair gleams and is soft to the touch!
- Rashes and Bug Bites: There is almost nothing more annoying than an itchy bug bite that you cannot scratch; luckily, tea bags work for that too! All that is needed is for you to apply a damp, but not too hot, tea bag onto the area that is impacted by the bug bite or rash. The tea will work to help reduce inflammation and decrease the itchiness.
- The Compost Pile: One of the easiest uses for your unused, unwanted, and/or expired tea bags is to simply add the tea bags to your compost pile. Tea bags and brewed tea alike can aid the decomposition within your compost pile. You should definitely remember to put tea and tea bags in the compost, not the garbage. And if you get frustrated and just want to get rid of all of your tea bags, just throw them in the compost.
- Opening up Pores: In yet another way that your tea bags can help your skin, your tea bags can be turned into an at-home, do-it-yourself face treatment. All it takes is placing tea bags into a bowl of hot water, but make sure that it is hot enough to be steaming. Place your face over the bowl for five to ten minutes and the steam will seep into and open your pores. From there, the antioxidants in the tea work to hydrate your skin and tone it as well. Enjoy the relaxing, refreshing soothe for your skin.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.