There are many different reasons you might be stuck with tea you don’t want. Maybe you decided you didn’t like the flavor, or it got stale before you could use it, or one or two types of tea from a larger mixed pack just aren’t what you like.
Before you just throw out your tea, read through these examples of how you could make use of it. You might find a great way to use your extra tea, and some ideas that you want to try in the future!
1 – Compost Your Tea Bags
Most tea and tea bags are compostable! If you have a compost bin, you can put the whole tea bag in there, provided that it doesn’t have any staples. If your tea bag is stapled shut, you can simply remove the staple and dispose of it, then place the rest of the tea bag into your compost bin.
Some companies use plastics in their tea bags, so you should do a bit of research before putting the entire bag into your compost bin. If you find out that there is plastic in your tea bag, you can still cut it open and add the loose tea into your compost. Just make sure that you put any plastic or metallic items into your regular garbage bin.
Loose-leaf tea just needs to be removed from whatever container you store it in. Chances are, the container that your loose-leaf tea is in is designed to keep the tea fresh for as long as possible, and isn’t compostable.
2 – Use Your Tea Bags as Fertilizers
If you don’t have a compost bin set up on your property, you can still dispose of your tea in an eco-friendly way.
If the tea is in a bag, cut open the bag and use just the tea leaves inside. If your tea is loose, you can simply pour some of it out so that it lightly covers the dirt, just as you would with the tea inside of a bag.
This is also a great option for people who live in apartments, and might not have any outside space at all. If you have any indoor plants, you can still use unwanted tea as a fertilizer.
3 – Bury the Tea Bags in Your Garden
This is another great way to use tea bags to fertilize your plants. In this method, instead of cutting open your tea bag and pouring out the loose tea contents onto the dirt, you would dig a small hole in your garden next to the plant and bury the whole tea bag inside of it.
Again, the benefits of doing this rely on the tea bag itself to be compostable so the soil and plants are able to absorb its nutrients.
Burying your tea bags is a great way of composting if you don’t have a compost bin, and the tea won’t smell odd as it decomposes, like other food items might. As it breaks down in the soil, it’ll become fertilizer for your plants.
4 – Use the Tea Bags as Potpourri
As long as you like the smell of your unwanted tea, you can use it as a way to keep your closet smelling fresh. Place tea bags on your shelves or in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling great.
Potpourri has been used for a long time as a way to keep clothes smelling fresh as they sit in drawers. It’s also made of the same things a lot of teas are made of!
5 – Use Tea Bags in Your Refrigerator
Don’t have any baking soda? Try using tea as a replacement! The tea leaves will soak up any odd smells that might be floating around in your refrigerator, similar to how baking soda would. Tea leaves will add a nice, pleasant smell to your refrigerator, similar to how it would as potpourri in your closet.
Just make sure that whatever tea you use is something that you’ll want to smell every time you open the refrigerator. Don’t pick a tea that you hate the smell of!
Mint teas and cinnamon are both great options to use in refrigerators, as they both smell clean and sharp, and are likely to easily cover up any unpleasant smells.
6 – Use Tea Bags to Freshen Your House
Here is one last way to use tea as a way to improve or mask different odors in your house. You can add tea to anything that smells unpleasant, like sprinkling loose tea in your trash bin, or leaving tea bags in the corners of your pantry to keep it smelling good.
7 – Ask If Someone Else Wants the Tea
This might seem a little simple or obvious, but as long as your tea is still fresh, it might be something that one of your friends, neighbors, or family members wants! Everyone has different tastes, so it’s highly likely that you’ll be able to find someone who is happy to take your unwanted tea off your hands.
The next time you have guests at your house, let them know that you have extra tea you won’t be using, and see if they would want to take it home with them.
8 – Use Tea Bags for Other Beverages
Simply drinking a cup of hot water with tea isn’t the only way to enjoy it. You can also use the flavors of tea in other beverages as well.
This is a great option for someone who thinks a specific tea flavor is too plain to drink on its own, or if you were gifted tea bags but you don’t like tea at all.
Try adding a tea bag to any heated beverage, such as milk or hot chocolate. It’ll give the drink a new, subtle flavor, without overpowering the drink.
If you have already used a bag of green tea, try putting the used bag into some lemonade. If you leave the green tea bag in the container of lemonade overnight, it will infuse with the lemonade.
In the morning, you will have a delicious batch of green tea lemonade to drink!
9 – Infuse Soup with Tea
This might sound a little strange at first, but try using tea bags the next time you make soup! The tea will infuse into whatever water, vegetable, or meat stock you’re using as the base of your soup. Make sure you pick something that will compliment the flavor.
Think about flavors that might go with whatever kind of soup you’re making. Green tea, lemon tea, and ginger tea are all good options! If you are creative with it, there’s no soup you could make that wouldn’t have a potential tea to match.
10 – Infuse Tea in Baking Ingredients
If you’re baking anything that needs water or milk as an ingredient, you could heat the water or milk and infuse it with tea, and use that instead. Imagine making chai tea pancakes, or green tea vanilla cake.
The possibilities are endless, and it’s a great way to add some extra flavor to a recipe you’ve been using for a long time.
11 – Use Tea Leaves as an Herb When Cooking
If you think about it, tea is always edible on its own. A lot of common herbs are also used in tea, such as mint.
If you have a tea that contains an herb you would use for cooking, you can simply remove the tea from its bag and use it to add some extra flavor to whatever you’re cooking.
This is a great trick if you’re missing an herb as an ingredient in something that you want to cook. You don’t have to make an extra trip to the store to buy a whole package of herbs you might only need to use once.
Look to your own pantry, and see if you might have a substitute in a tea bag. Or, you might even have the exact herb you need!
12 – Use Tea Bags to Reduce Swelling
Some herbs have natural anti-inflammatory properties. If you had a rough night of sleep, try placing cold bags of green tea over your closed eyes to help reduce any puffiness. After a few minutes, you’ll look refreshed and ready for the day.
Another method to use tea to reduce swelling or irritation is to brew the tea, and apply the damp tea leaves directly on your face as a mask. Make sure that the tea isn’t still hot when you put it on your face.
13 – Use Tea Bags as Skincare
A lot of herbs that are common in teas have properties that are great for your skin. Lavender, rose, and chamomile are good examples of tea that can also benefit your skin.
If you have acne or blemishes, steeping lavender tea in cold water and placing it on your face for a few minutes is a great homemade remedy. Lavender is naturally antibacterial, and it will clear up any acne-causing bacteria.
Jasmine tea is great for removing excess oil from the surface of your skin.
Rose is useful to reduce inflammation and redness. Prepare it with the same method, by soaking it in cold water and then resting it on your face for a few minutes, like a regular, store-bought mask.
Chamomile is great to soothe and moisturize dry skin. Use a cool tea bag and apply it to your face. Use any of these methods regularly to see the best results.
14 – Use Brewed Tea on Your Hair
Rinsing your hair with brewed tea is a great way to get its benefits. Black tea is a good tea to use on your hair, but there are plenty of other kinds of tea that have different benefits. Rose tea will work to make your hair softer.
To use tea on your hair, brew the tea in water, making sure to use a lot of tea so the infusion is strong. When you are in the shower, pour the tea over your hair.
Make sure that the tea is not still hot when you are applying it to your head. Let the tea soak in for a few minutes, and rinse it out with a little bit of water.
Make sure you use any shampoo beforehand, as shampooing your hair after you rinse it with tea could remove any of the elements that are going to benefit your hair.
Another option is to add some of the tea to a spray bottle, once it has cooled down. Then, you can keep it for about a week and spray a little bit of it on your hair after you get out of the shower.
You won’t need to rinse it off, as you will just use a little bit of the spray. Use your hands to work the tea spray through the ends of your hair.
Don’t use a brush or a comb to spread out the tea in your hair. If you brush or comb out wet or damp hair, it can cause breakage and split ends.
15 – Use Tea in Your Bath
If tea is great for your face, it’s also great for the rest of your body! Try using any one of the teas from the above methods and add them into your bath. While you run the hot water, leave a few tea bags in the tub.
They will have great benefits for your skin, and also provide some aromatherapy while you’re bathing.
16 – Reduce Stress with Tea Aromatherapy
Tea can be used as an aromatherapy treatment. As said in the point above, you can add some to your bath and let the steam relieve you of any stress or tension you might be holding.
If you don’t have a bath in your home, or if you simply don’t like taking baths, you can also try a facial steam method.
Brew the tea as normal, but instead of putting it in a mug, put the tea into a wide bowl. The bowl should be big enough to cover the width of your face, but not so big that it will be difficult to carry or manage.
Once the tea is brewed and in the bowl, place your face above the bowl and let the steam soak into your skin. You can also place a towel around your head so that the steam stays trapped by your face, so you get even more of the aromatherapy benefits.
The steam will also have some of the anti-inflammatory or antibacterial properties that some herbs might carry, so you will also get the added benefit of your skin looking bright and clear.
17 – Use Tea to Clean Your Carpets
If you have musty carpets, you can also sprinkle damp tea onto the carpet. It’ll absorb any unpleasant odor from the carpet’s fibers, and once it’s dry you can easily vacuum it up.
This is a great way to use both tea bags that you don’t want, or tea bags that you’ve already used, as an alternative to just throwing them in the garbage.
If you’re hesitant to put damp tea onto your carpet, there’s another option for using tea to clean it. Try taking dry tea leaves and mixing them in baking soda. When you have the tea and baking soda mixed together, sprinkle the mixture onto your carpet.
Leave the tea and baking soda in your carpet for about 20 minutes. After it has time to sit on the carpet and absorb any bad odors, you can use your vacuum to clean it up.
If you use either of these methods to clean your carpet, make sure that you know the tea isn’t going to stain your carpet. If you have white or pale colored carpet, it’s probably not a good idea to use tea on it because it’s likely that it could make a permanent stain.
18 – Use Tea Bags as Kindling for Fires
If you have a fireplace in your home, or if you’re going on a camping trip that will have a bonfire, you can use old or otherwise unwanted tea bags as kindling to start the fire.
The natural leaves and fibers in the tea will burn easily, and it is a great way to replace other kindling such as newspaper, or leaves and twigs that might be time-consuming to gather from the surrounding forest or trees.
As an added benefit of using tea bags as kindling, the fire will smell like the herbs that you put in, adding a relaxing scent to your night.
Make sure that whatever tea bags you use for kindling don’t have any metal or staples holding them together, as this could be bad for wildlife. The metal won’t burn in the fire, and will stay on the ground after you are gone.
It might also be best to avoid burning tea bags that have plastic in the paper material, as it might cause a bad smell and would also be bad for the environment.
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.