12 things you didn’t know you could do with leftover teabags

Posted by Ella Buchan on 25 July 2016


While hanging used teabags on the washing line might be taking it a bit far, there’s no need to chuck them straight in the bin or on the compost heap, either.

Save them up in the fridge for one of these ingenious ideas, and up your ‘tea-cycling’ game.

Flavour your meat

Make weak tea with used bags, mix with wine or water and use as a marinade for chicken, beef or lamb a few hours before cooking.

Rub used teabags on steak or duck breast for a flavour twist, or throw them in a ziplock bag with meat and/or veg so the flavour infuses overnight. Aromatic Earl Grey and smoky lapsang souchong work a treat.

Meat cuts
Shutterstock via: margouillat photo

Freshen your fridge

Place a couple of used teabags in a bowl or other open container inside your fridge, to absorb strong smells.

Shutterstock via: wsf-s

Prevent rust

After washing, wipe cast iron pots and pans with damp used black teabags. The tannins will help form a protective layer to prevent oxidation and therefore rusting.

Rusty pans
Shutterstock via: Duplass

Infuse your rice

Aromatic teas such as jasmine, chai or orange blossom will give rice, other grains and pasta a delicate, exotic flavour. Hang used bags in the water while simmering.

Bowl of rice
Shutterstock via: Zb89V

Make washing-up easier

Who doesn’t want that? Dropping a few used bags into a sink full of dirty dishes will break down grease and stains. After five minutes of soaking, your work will be half done.

Dirty dishes
Shutterstock via: Paul Michael Hughes

Clean your windows

Brew weak tea with already used teabags, cool and decant into a spray bottle. Spritz on windows before wiping with a lint-free cloth. Stubborn grime and fingerprints will disappear.

Makes mirrors sparkle, too.

Cleaning windows
Shutterstock via: Vitaliy Hrabar

Polish wooden furniture

Weak tea is a great cleaner for porous wood furniture and flooring - gentle enough not to damage surfaces and packed with antioxidants that cut through dirt.

Cup of tea
Shutterstock via: Freer

Feed your garden

Tear open used teabags and mix into soil for nitrogen-rich compost to keep your plants happy and deter pests. You can also add bags to your watering can, to help prevent plants from fungal infections.

Shutterstock via: Savo Ilic

Deodorise carpets

Dry your used teabags (you might need the washing line, after all) and empty the contents on rugs or carpets, leaving for 15 minutes before vacuuming.

Offensive odours will be neutralised, while using herbal teas, such as peppermint, will give a wonderful fresh smell.

Deodorise carpets
Shutterstock via: Cebas

Smoke fish

It sounds scarily chef-y, but home-smoking in a wok is surprisingly easy with tea, sugar, uncooked rice, woodchips and aromatics like cloves and star anise.

You can also smoke duck or chicken wings, or try corn for a whole new flavour dimension. Use the contents of dried-out teabags and experiment with different varieties.

Smokey fish
Feasting at Home

Make a stronger brew

If you love a proper builder’s tea and often use two bags at a time, simply keep your used pouches to strengthen your next brew. Over time, you’ll save a packet.

Used tea pouches
Shutterstock via: kay roxby

Mix it up

Re-brew used teabags and cool for a refreshing summery mixer for spirits, or to combine with soft drinks. Blackcurrant or strawberry tea with lemonade is delicious, while lemon works with rum and ginger.

You can also chill weak herbal and fruit teas in the fridge for thirst-quenching drinks in their own right.

Ice tea in a jar
Shutterstock via: Elena Veselova

Main image via Shutterstock: marilyn barbone


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