Do you dunk and ditch your tea bags? If you're not a tea snob, chances are you reuse a tea bag to make a second cup of tea. There are other ways to use and reuse them around your home and garden.
Have you used tea for anything other than drinking?
Here are a few suggestions:
Clean glass, mirrors and counters: If you have leftover tea, either dip a cloth into it or pour the tea into a spray bottle and use it to clear grease and grime from your windows, counters or mirrors. Or simply get into the habit of using the spent tea bag immediately and directly on your counter and around your sink. Afterward, dry the area with a clean cloth to prevent any staining.
Fire starters: Tuck dried tea bags into a cardboard tube from toilet paper or paper towels and light them to start a fire. You can add dryer lint or crumpled newspaper to help fill the tube, too.
Odor remover: Out of baking soda or coffee grounds? Put some used tea bags in a jar and place in your refrigerator to absorb odors.
Simmering potpourri: Put apple cores or peels, orange peels, cinnamon, cloves and the contents from your old tea bags into a saucepan with water. Simmer on low. After enjoying the aroma, dump it into your garbage disposal to freshen it.
Plants: Pour leftover tea or brew more tea with used tea bags and pour it into the soil of your indoor or outdoor plants. Or simply toss the tea bags into your compost pile rather than throwing them away.
On your skin: Add a few new or used tea bags into your bath and enjoy its soothing and aromatic properties. Soak in cold water and apply under your eyes to remedy bagginess and dark circles. Or apply to skin to relieve discomfort from mild sunburn, bug bites or razor burn.
Another reader, L.D.C. from California, adds: "Deodorize your feet with tea bags! Boil three or four tea bags in one quart of water for 10 minutes. Add enough cold water to make a comfortable temperature to soak your feet. Soak your feet for half an hour, then dry and apply powder or moisturizer."
Green or herbal tea hair rinse: Since it soothes your skin, tea is beneficial for your hair and scalp, too. Pour leftover tea (or tea made with used tea bags) onto your hair or pour it into a spray bottle and spray it onto your hair as a first or final rinse.
Iced tea: Save leftover hot tea or reuse tea bags and make iced tea later. You can freeze small amounts in an ice-cube tray to use later, too.
Another reader, Karen from Kansas, shares: "In the summer, I'll stick my used tea bags in a plastic container in the freezer until I have five to eight bags. I use them to make a concentrated form of tea with one quart of hot water. You can do the same thing with three or four new tea bags. The concentrated tea is kept in a container in the refrigerator and is used to make iced tea by the glass. That way we don't have to have a large pitcher taking up space in the refrigerator."
Meat tenderizer: Add some tea to your pot roast or chicken when roasting to tenderize and give added flavor. For more information on cooking with tea visit: http://www.stylegourmet.com/articles/017.htm.
• Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email email@example.com.