There’s not much in this world that’s more satisfying than drinking a nice cup of tea. Hot or cold. Herbal or green. It doesn’t matter. Tea is comforting, soothing, delicious, and so much more. And those of us who love tea, really do use any excuse to drink it. A small gathering of friends? Have some tea! Feeling a little down? Lift your spirits with some tea! Hot summer day? Cool down with some iced tea! Cold winter night? Warm-up with some hot tea! Tea is our answer for just about everything.
It’s also the second most popular drink in the world, the first being water. Every culture seems to have some form of tradition around tea, herbal or otherwise. In Japan and China, the tea ceremony is an elaborate ritual that takes many years to master. In India, tea is consumed largely for its health benefits. In the Middle East, it’s a social drink. People gather to enjoy each other’s company as well as tea and the occasional hookah. Even before the standard Tea made it to the western world, herbal teas were staples in every home. In Ancient Rome, various herbal infusions were consumed for health and relaxation.
However, these days when we do brew tea to drink, we often only steep it for 2-5 minutes. Just long enough to get a good flavor, however, this does leave quite a few nutrients left in the leaves. I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit guilty throwing away all that useful material. So I figured that I would share with you some of my favorite ways to reuse those tea leaves. You can use traditional tea or herbal tea for any of these tips. Some of these tips call for dry leaves. Simply spread the tea leaves out on a cookie sheet in the oven, on a very low setting, or place them on a clean towel on a sunny windowsill. Those leaves will dry out in no time!
Freshen Up Your Wardrobe or Linen Closet
Once your tea leaves are dry you can place them in a sachet, or an unused tea bag, and place it in your wardrobe or linen closet. The herbal tea smells delightful and will help to absorb any funk that accumulates. Just make sure your leaves are fully dry so they don’t mold. Meditative State of Mind tea blend is especially great for this because it includes Lavender which is an amazing air freshener.
Neutralize Oven Odor
After you’ve been using your oven, spread your wet tea leaves on a cookie sheet and place them on the middle rack. Make sure the oven has cooled down to where it’s just warm. This will help neutralize any funky odors and will also dry out those tea leaves.
Get Rid of That Fridge Funk
Baking soda isn’t the only thing that can help your fridge not smell funky. You can place dried tea leaves in an open container and place it on the middle shelf. You can also mix the leaves into some baking soda to freshen up that fridge funk.
Car Air Freshener
When you finish drinking your tea, dry your leaves, and place them in a cloth tea bag or sachet and place them in your car. This will help keep your car smelling nice and may even help you keep your cool in traffic as the fresh herbal scent should help reduce your anxiety.
Homemade Cleaning Spray
When you’re done with your tea simply empty the leaves into a spray bottle with a solution of ½ water and ½ white distilled vinegar. Use this as a general-purpose cleaning spray.
This summer we talked about herbal baths and how wonderful they can be. Try reusing your herbal teas in the bath to get the most out of them. Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut tea blend is especially good for this because of the red clover. It’s an amazing herb for skin and hair health.
Soothing Eye Treatments
Place your damp tea leaves in a muslin bag and place it over your eyes. This will help soothe away puffiness and refresh tired eyes. All teas work well for this, but green tea, chamomile, and calendula tend to work exceptionally well.
Water Your Plants
When you’re done drinking your tea, brew another batch for your plants. It may not be very flavorful, but it is still full of nutrients that could benefit your plant babies. Just don’t forget to let the tea cool down before spritzing it on your plants. You can also mix the remaining tea leaves into the soil to improve the nutrient quality. As a bonus, most herbs used in tea blends help to shoo away garden pests! Just don’t leave wet leaves on the surface as they could mold.
Add it to Rice
Dry and save your used herbal tea leaves for the next time you cook a batch of rice or quinoa. Throw a spoonful or two in with your grains for a healthy flavor boost. Any tea or blend will work for this, as long as you enjoy the flavor.
Make a Salad
Adding tea leaves to your salad can be a simple way to spice up a boring salad. You can simply toss the leaves in with the rest of your salad (you might prefer damp leaves for this), or you can add the leaves to your favorite salad dressing. I like making vinaigrettes using either a bit of brewed tea in place of water or just throwing the herbal tea leaves in as the seasoning.
Now it’s time to brew up that tea! If you’re not sure which tea to try next, check out You, Me, and Uni’s tea blends, created by Master Herbalist Jennifer Vollbrecht. These blends are delicious and full of incredible benefits. Check out more information on Meditative State of Mind and Know your Gut Trust Your Gut here.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Freelance writer and editor at Walden Writes For Women, in Gainesville, Florida