Brew Aha

Tempest in a Teapot

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, and many drinkers prefer the convenience afforded by prepackaged individual servings. The remains, however, add up to 1,500 tons of landfill waste annually. At least there are things to do with an old tea bag before giving it the heave-ho, starting with some surprising natural health benefits.

- Try reusing a tea bag as a compress for bee stings, bug bites, sunburn and bruises. It will ease pain and reduce inflammation.

- Get rid of a plantar wart by pressing a wet, warmed tea bag directly onto the area for 10 to 15 minutes, then let the skin dry naturally. Repeat the treatment for a few days until the wart completely disappears.

- Run bath water over used tea bags to enjoy a soak that will leave skin incredibly soft. Green tea works best.

- Revitalize puffy, achy eyes by refrigerating the tea bags before laying them over the afflicted peepers and let the tannin in the tea go to work.

- Got razor burn? Press one tea bag against the skin to relieve the sting and stop the bleeding.

- After an accidental roll in poison ivy, dab skin with a moist tea bag to dry up the rash.

Outdoors, tea bags have multiple uses, as well. Tear open a used bag and work the contents into the dirt of acid-loving plants like ferns and roses. The tannic acid and other nutrients will be released when plants are watered, spurring their growth. For healthier potted plants, place a few brewed tea bags over the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter before potting. The tea bags will retain water and leach nutrients into the soil.

Finally, it’s good to compost any used tea bags; just remove any staples first. Speed the decomposition process and enrich the overall compost pile by pouring a few cups of strong, twice-brewed tea into the heap. The liquid tea will hasten decomposition and attract acid-producing bacteria to create an acid-rich compost.

That’s not all that tea bags can do. Visit for more uses, from facials to kitchen cleanups.

Adapted from— showing how ordinary people can positively impact our world every day.

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