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.
Freshen your fridge
Place a couple of used teabags in a bowl or other open container inside your fridge, to absorb strong smells.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Main image via Shutterstock: marilyn barbone
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