Give me compost!
Today has me gettin' my blog on about random and useful tidbits about tea that involve anything but drinking it. As it is a natural plant with numerous health benefits, of course there any number of things that we can be doing with our tea leaves that are useful around the house, office, garden, etc. Oh, joyous rapture!
Now if any of you are like me, there are many occasions where you have the best intentions of finishing your tea, but simply don't seal the deal before what's left at the bottom of your cup or pot is cold and un-drinkable. Next time this happens, don't toss it down the drain...instead, water your plants with it. At our downtown store, we have a silver can that we put infuser baskets of tea leaves into, and before long there is a good inch of tea water at the bottom. I add some cold water to it and feed it to our bamboo plants and ficus tree. The natural compounds from the tea leaf are great for your houseplants. Ideally, you should use your re-steeped tea so that there isn't any caffeine in it, because if you give caffeine to your houseplants (especially after midnight) then, as we all know, they will grow into cranky, fiendish things that overtake your living room and demand fried chicken and Sunkist.
Your houseplant on caffeine.
Another great use for your used tea leaves is composting. I touched on this momentarily last week in my Cradle-to-Cradle masterpiece (ha ha). Tea leaves, coffee grinds, fruit peels...basically anything "natural," ie, stay away from stuff with preservatives, corn syrup, flavorings, etc. These can all be pitched into a bucket for use as mulch in your garden. Our store currently donates all its compostables to a local who takes them to his home garden in Eldorado Springs and turns them into fertilizer for his insanely large fruit tree and veggie garden.
You can also use teabags or tea compresses on swollen, puffy eyes. The antioxidants in the tea will help reduce these symptoms. That being said, these are also useful on skin irritations, sunburn, bug bites, and acne. If you are feeling particularly swanky, you can add a sachet or teabag of rose or jasmine (or the TeaSpot's Meditative Mind!) to your bathwater, and rest assured you will come out smelling better than you went in. I also just read that you can boil two cups of strong black tea, let it cool, pour into a spray bottle and spray all over for a natural spray tan. I will be off to Costa Rica in a week and a half, so the good news is with one product (glorious, glorious tea!) I can pre-tan, treat bug bites and the inevitable sunburn I will get! Hooray!
He should really try some tea on that.
Since tea can be used as a dye (as we learned from above mention of spray tanning), it can also be used to dye fabrics and hair. So you can give your white underoos an aged look while reversing the aged look of your graying hair. Hot damn! The tannins in black tea (or any tea) are great for cleaning glass as well. This is a great idea, considering it can reduce the use of the harsh chemical ammonia that is found in most glass cleaners.
Another idea that I have always wanted to try but have not yet is making ice cube trays out of tea; that way, when you make iced tea and add your ice, you aren't watering it down. Nice! We will have more on iced tea later in the summer when things really get toasty around here.
If anyone has any other random uses for tea leaves or tea water, let me know!