Tea is an aromatic beverage that’s consumed by many people for thousands of years. Legend has it, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong, who accidentally discovered tea in 2,737 B.C. He was boiling a pot of water in his garden when a leaf of a wild tea tree drifted into the pot.
It’s hard to prove the authenticity of this legend, but we know one thing for certain. Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. It’s consumed for its health benefits, as a calming concoction to soothe frayed nerves, or simply, for its wonderful flavour.
Tea leaves produce their distinctive tastes when it’s brewed in hot water. Hot water permeates into tea leaves best, releasing the beautiful flavour and aroma we’ve come to love. These almost magical leaves are packed with nutrients that many studies have shown are beneficial for us.
However, what do you do with the used tea leaves after you’ve brewed your perfect cup of tea? Throwing them away would be the wrong answer. Used tea leaves can continue to be useful and beneficial to us even after all its flavour is gone.
Here are some uses for tea leaves that you can do right at home. The next time you’ve brewed your tea, don’t be so quick to throw the leaves away. Give one of these uses a try and you’ll love teas even more!
Face or body scrub
After you’ve brewed your tea, strain them in a fine mesh colander to remove as much liquid as you can. Then spread these leaves on a kitchen paper towel to absorb remaining excess moisture. Air dry for at least 24 hours. These dry used tea leaves are called chagra.
Once the leaves are completely dry, you can add them to your face or body wash. The texture of the leaves works as an excellent gentle exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and bacteria. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have wonderful effects on the skin.
Loose leaf tea is a favourite among many tea drinkers. The loose leaves produce a more robust flavour compared to a teabag. Other than giving you a nice cup of tea, loose tea leaves make great air fresheners for your home or car.
Take about two spoonfuls of dry used tea leaves and mix them with a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Mix well to infuse the oils into the leaves and place these leaves in a small muslin pouch. You can place the pouch in your closet, clothes drawers, or your car.
Used tea leaves make an effective deodorizing agent. To remove the smell of meat or fish on your kitchen chopping board, sprinkle a good amount of damp used tea leaves on the board. Give your chopping board a good scrub using these leaves and your board will smell fresh and clean.
To remove the odour from carpets or rugs, cover them with damp used tea leaves and leave for at least 20 minutes. Then all you have to do is vacuum them right off, leaving you with a carpet that smells fresh and clean.
Chagra also work wonders as pet or fridge deodorizers. Instead of baking soda, you can sprinkle used tea leaves in your pet’s litter box to freshen it up. For your fridge, you can place dry used teabags in it to absorb any unpleasant smell.
Not only that, many people use tea leaves to get rid of body odour. Take the used tea leaves into the shower and use them to scrub your underarms. Other than removing the bacteria that cause the odour, the properties in the leaves can also help to lighten dark underarms.
Soaking yourself in a tub of tea may not be your idea of a relaxing evening. But you’d be surprised how a tea bath is highly beneficial to your skin and muscles, not to mention soothing. Tea bath is a common ayurvedic therapy to soothe nerves and calm the mind.
Take a handful of used tea leaves and place them in a muslin sachet. Steep this sachet in your tub for 15-20 minutes. For aromatherapy, you can add a few drops of lavender or rose essential oil. The antioxidant properties of the tea leaves will give you a healthy and glowing skin.
Burns and stings remedy
Tea leaves are full of tannins, an anti-inflammatory property that helps to soothe minor burns and stings. Gently press damp used tea leaves into shape and use it as a salve on the burn or sting spot. You may repeat the process until the pain goes away.
You can also use damp used tea leaves to reduce puffy eyes. For this, cool damp tea leaves work best. If you’re using a tea bag, don’t throw the bags away. Chill them in the fridge for several hours and place them on tired eyes for 10 – 15 minutes. The tannins will give you an instant rejuvenation once you’ve removed the teabags from your eyes.
Used tea leaves have been used as plant fertilizers for centuries. They are natural, eco-friendly, and they don’t smell as bad as manure. The next time you have used tea leaves, sprinkle them in your potted plant or garden.
They add wonderful nutrient-rich properties to your soil, encouraging your home plants to grow better. You can also plant the used teabags in your potted plant or near the plants in your garden. Every time you water your plants, the water will help the leaves to release its nutrients.
As you can see, there are many marvellous uses for tea leaves. It’s little wonder how these amazing leaves was a high-value commodity in ancient times. Even though in modern times it’s considered more of a social drink, there’s no denying its rich history and wonderful benefits.
The next time you make yourself a nice cup of tea, just remember there’s so much more your tea leaves can do. Make a drink, use it as a scrub for healthier skin, use it as home remedies for minor accidents, or even to help your plant grow. There’s nothing these leaves can’t do!