The salubrious effects of green tea are well known—tea leaves pack a whopping punch of antioxidants making their brew one of the healthiest drinks to imbibe. However, the benefits of those antioxidants don’t stop there; you can save those soggy tea leaves and use them around the house to help out with some surprising tasks.
After you’ve absorbed the health benefits from your cup of green tea, it’s time to recycle the leaves. You can use them to feed your garden plants–green tea is high in nitrogen–and they will even ward off pests and insects.
Tea leaves also have a long tradition of being used as a deodorizer. Tea is loaded with catechins, which are the polyphenolic substances we know as anti-oxidants. The catechins have antibacterial properties, which makes tea leaves great for fighting odor.
Some tips call for dried leaves, here’s how: When finished brewing tea, place the leaves into a large strainer or colander. Press out as much moisture as possible, and then spread the leaves on unprinted paper. Let the leaves dry thoroughly, turning over several times in the process. Then, refresh away…
Carpets and Vacuum. Sprinkle dry tea leaves onto your carpet, crush them lightly and let them sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum. This will refresh your carpet and deodorize your vacuum cleaner and bag.
Yoga Mats. In the hot, humid areas of Thailand, Burma, and other Asian countries, people sleep on straw mats. This straw is cool and comfortable, but people do perspire. It is quite common in these areas for straw mats to be washed in tubs of water to which tea has been added. The tea works as a powerful deodorizer, leaves a fresh scent, and can even infuse the straw with a delicate sage color. You can use green tea to clean other washable surfaces, such as yoga mats and air mattresses.
Litter Boxes. Used green tea leaves are wonderful in kitty litter as an extra boost for diffusing odors, and they help deter fleas from both cats and dogs.
Pet Beds. Sprinkle dried used green tea leaves on your pet’s favorite pillow or bed. Great in doghouses or anywhere troublesome pet odors occur. If you can afford the extravagance, loose leaf gunpowder tea is great for dogs to roll around in. The crunching of the pellets releases a wonderful aroma, and helps to scratch wherever dogs have an itch. The pellets help give your dog a more pleasant smell.
Refrigerators. Place used green tea bags or leaves in a small bowl, uncovered, in your refrigerator to help absorb odors from onions and garlic for about three days. NO need to throw them out even then, just sprinkle the old leaves around your ferns, rosebushes, or other plants.
Kitchen Odors. Preparing fish? Chopping garlic? Rid your hands of the fish or garlic oils by rubbing them with wet green tea leaves, an instant deodorizer. The leaves are also great for deodorizing and cleaning the pan in which you cook fish or garlic. As well, rub wet tea leaves on cutting boards to remove odors there.
Note: Wet tea leaves can stain, so if you are using wet tea leaves on or near a stainable surface be sure to test in an inconspicuous place first.
Adapted from The Book of Green Tea, by Diana Rosen (Storey Books, 1998)