I get through the sleepless days of being a stay-at-home dad, freelance writer, and DIY remodeler with copious quantities of tea. I drink Celestial Seasonings Morning Thunder tea in a big beer stein, which I believe to be quite manly.
I also hate to throw out anything I could reuse or recycle. So I scoured the Internet to find uses for used tea bags and tea, other than the primary functions of keeping me hydrated and awake. With thanks to "Reader's Digest" and "Mental Floss" magazines, the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, Chinaculture.org, and several bloggers and Web forums, here is the definitive list of other uses for tea.
We can't vouch for all these home remedies, so let us know how they work. Also tell us if we missed anything.
1. Clean carpets: Clean up musty, dirty carpets by sprinkling dry, used green tea leaves on the carpet. Let them work their magic for about 10 minutes, then vacuum them up. Delicate Persian and Oriental rugs can also benefit from a sprinkling of tea leaves. In this case, sprinkle nearly dry, used whole tea leaves on the rugs, and gently sweep them away.
2. Shine wood floors: The tannins in black tea can help shine and color hardwood flooring. Follow your regular floor cleaning routine by carefully rubbing some brewed tea into the floor (don't use too much water on hardwood flooring) and letting it air dry.
3. Polish furniture: Brewed tea also can help clean and shine wood furniture. The tannins in tea will re-color light spots and scratches in wood surfaces. Dip a soft cloth in a small amount of strongly-brewed tea, and use it to wipe down scratched tables, chairs, and more. Woodworker Jim McNamara suggested using "regular orange pekoe (Lipton's) or other dark tea" in Woodworker's Gazette.
4. Clean mirrors and windows: Tea can remove stubborn, greasy fingerprints from glass, and make it sparkle. Simply rub a damp teabag on the glass or fill a spray bottle with brewed tea.
5. Clean toilet stains: Rumor has it that used tea leaves can magically remove stubborn stains in the bottom of the toilet bowl. Just leave them in the toilet for several hours, then flush the toilet and brush the bowl.
6. Soothe a sunburn: Tea can soothe sunburns and other minor burns. Dr. Oz suggests sponging sunburned skin with "cooled chamomile tea" for it's anti-inflammatory effect. Don't try this if skin is broken.
7. Soothe tired eyes: Warm, wet tea bags can reduce puffiness and soothe pain around tired eyes - and tea bags on your eyes look a little less ridiculous than cucumber slices.
8. Soothe bleeding gums: After a tooth extraction or when an older child loses a tooth, try putting a cold, wet tea bag in the mouth where the tooth was lost and bite down on it. According to the Cleveland Clinic, "The tannic acid in tea helps healing blood clots to form (blood clots function similarly to a scab on an open wound). It can reduce bleeding and soothe pain."
9. Shine dry hair: Brewed tea makes a good conditioner for dry hair. Rinse with (unsweetened) tea and leave to dry for a while, then rinse again with water.
10. Improve skin: The Mayo Clinic suggests that herbal tea ingredients chamomile and calendula can help soothe dermatitis when prepared as a topical cream. Consult with a qualified health practitioner before using these remedies.
11. Soothe acne: Some acne sufferers swear by washing their faces with green tea because of its mildly antiseptic properties. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests washing with calendula flower tea as a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide.
12. Tenderize meat: Marinate tough meat in black tea to make it more tender.
13. Add to compost: Pouring strong tea into a compost bin will help speed up the process and encourage more friendly bacteria to grow, improving the compost.
14. Help houseplants: Occasionally use brewed tea instead of water to feed ferns and other houseplants that like rich, acidic soil. Spread used tea leaves around rosebushes, then add mulch and water. The tannic acid and other nutrients will benefit the plants. A few used teabags in the bottom of a planter can help the soil retain water, and adds valuable nutrients.
15. Dye fabrics: Green and black teas have long been used in dyes for fabric and paper, particularly for generating a beige, faux-antique look.
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