If you are a tea drinker, you are already in a special group of people. You understand that tea is a delicious and healthy beverage. You understand that you are a member of a group of people who appreciate the culture of tea. If you want to go above and beyond that, you may want to join a subset of tea drinkers who find it important to recycle those tea leaves. Do not just throw your spent tea leaves in the trash – give them a second life!
At times, you will use the leaves while still damp. At other times, you will need to dry the tea leaves. For the latter, first squeeze out as much moisture as possible to minimize the chance of mold developing. Sun drying is easy and efficient but takes longer than oven drying. To sun dry the leaves, spread them out on a plate or baking sheet lined with a paper towel and allow them to dry thoroughly. A quicker method is to use the oven. Spread the leaves on a baking tray and place them in a low oven, no higher than 200°F. Stir them periodically to ensure even drying. Once dry, store the leaves in an air-tight container.
Please look at all these wonderful ideas to allow your tea leaves to continue to do their magic after brewing.
Rebrew the leaves
When you purchase quality loose-leaf tea, such as offered by English Tealeaves, it is not just one brew and you’re done. All of our teas can be rebrewed at least once and possibly more. Brew the second time just as you did the first time. If desired, you can extend the brewing time by 30 seconds to a minute.
This is done most dramatically in the traditional Gong Fu style of brewing tea. In this method, the tea leaves are first brewed for a very short time, no more than 10 seconds. This process is repeated multiple times, each time slightly increasing the steep time until the flavor is exhausted.
One of the easiest ways of recycling your tea leaves is to work them into your garden or compost them. They are an excellent source of organic material and are rich in nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. You may be pleased to know that spent tea leaves are often put into compost bins by the staff of English Tealeaves.
Dried tea leaves can act almost like a potpourri. All tea leaves have a unique aroma, which is often enhanced upon brewing. Capture this aroma by drying the used tea leaves, placing them into sachets and using them to scent your drawers, wardrobes, bathrooms or anywhere you like. Add a spoonful of lavender to the dried leaves for a beautiful scent.
The next time you want to relax in a warm bath, by all means, take a cup of tea with you. However, also take your spent tea leaves. Place them into a sachet and throw them into your tub for an aromatic experience.
Tea leaves are a natural deodorizer and can be used in many areas. Sprinkle some damp leaves onto smelly carpets, leave them for a few minutes, and vacuum up. Try tossing them onto your cutting boards or other smelly surfaces. After allowing them to set for a few minutes, scrub as usual and scrub away the odor.
Put the dry, spent leaves in muslin bags and inside your smelly shoes or hang them around the house - closets, bathrooms, and garbage cans. Put the leaves in an open container in your refrigerator to prevent smells from developing.
What is better than cucumber slices over your tired eyes? Tea leaves, that’s what. Place damp leaves into a sachet and place them over your eyes for a refreshing treatment. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that are found in tea can soothe your eyes.
Crush spent leaves into small pieces and mix with your facial or body wash for an invigorating cleansing.
Have you noticed the proliferation of face and body creams, shampoos and other products that include tea as an ingredient? They must know something about the wonderful properties of tea. Try it by grinding the dry tea leaves and mixing them with your undereye cream. Allow to remain on your skin overnight to minimize dark circles. Another well-known remedy is to apply cooled, damp leaves to a sunburn for gentle relief.
As discussed in an earlier post, tea has many culinary uses apart from a delightful beverage. That post explains how to use fresh tea leaves and freshly brewed tea. You can also use spent tea leaves in your food.
Mince the leaves finely and add them to an omelet. Blend them with other ingredients to add a special touch to your sauces. Dry the leaves, chop and sprinkle them over salads or add them to a spice mixture.
Brewed tea and tea leaves are often used to create artwork. The different types of tea will produce different colors, adding beauty and variety to the art piece.
What do you do with your spent tea leaves?
Leave a note in the comments with your ideas!