How to Repurpose Used Tea Bags into Compost

How to Repurpose Used Tea Bags into Compost


Composting is an excellent way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Used tea bags are an often overlooked item that can be composted. Tea leaves and tea bags provide valuable nitrogen and small amounts of other key nutrients to build healthy compost.

Repurposing used tea bags into compost is simple and easy. With a few tips, I can add my used tea bags to my compost bin or pile without hassle. In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide on collecting, preparing, and composting tea bags to create dark, crumbly compost for my garden.

Collecting and Drying Tea Bags

The first step is collecting my used tea bags. Here are some tips for easy collection:

  • Set up a small basket or bin on my kitchen counter to collect used tea bags. This makes it easy to deposit them after drinking tea.
  • If tea bags fall to the bottom of my cup or mug, use a spoon to scoop them out and add to my collection bin.
  • For teabags with staples, carefully open the bags and empty the leaves into my bin. Compost the paper but not the staples.
  • If I use loose leaf tea, I can place the leaves in a compostable bag, paper towel, or directly into my compost bin.

Once I’ve collected a number of used tea bags, I need to dry them out. Wet tea bags can get moldy and rot quickly. Here is how I dry them:

  • Spread tea bags out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Place in oven at lowest temperature (170F – 200F) for 30-60 minutes until thoroughly dried.
  • Alternatively, I can leave tea bags to air dry for 12-24 hours spread out on a baking sheet.

Drying ensures my tea bags will not cause problems when composting.

Preparing Tea Bags for Compost

Before adding my dried tea bags to compost, I need to prepare them properly:

  • Cut open tea bags and empty the dried tea leaves into my compost bin directly. This increases surface area for breakdown.
  • If using plastic tea bags, open the bags and empty. Then, recycle the plastic bag and compost the leaves.
  • If using coffee pods with tea, separate the pod and compost the tea leaves only. Recycle the plastic pod.
  • Chop up large silky tea bags to allow them to break down easier in the compost.
  • Consider removing staples, paper tags, or glue from tea bags when possible as these will not break down.

Proper preparation sets up the tea leaves and tea bags for rapid decomposition.

Composting Tea Bags

To compost tea bags successfully:

  • I add dried, prepared tea bags or loose leaves directly to my compost pile or bin.
  • Mix and bury the tea bags into the compost pile. This prevents molding.
  • Tea bags can be composted in small backyard compost piles and large municipal compost heaps.
  • Tea leaves provide a boost of nitrogen to help other compost materials break down.
  • Their small size allows tea bags to decompose rapidly, within 1-4 weeks in an active pile.

Composting tea bags helps provide carbon and nitrogen balance to create dark, humus-rich compost!

Tea Bag Composting Tips

Follow these tips for great results composting tea bags:

  • Break open or cut up tea bags to allow oxygen inside to aid decomposition.
  • Mix tea bags into the center of the compost pile – don’t leave clumps on top.
  • Add a diversity of tea types like black tea, green tea, herbal tea to vary nutrients.
  • Pair tea bags with other high carbon materials like wood chips to balance C:N ratio.
  • Turn or stir compost pile weekly to mix tea bags into materials and improve aeration.
  • Monitor moisture and water compost as needed so tea bags don’t dry out.
  • Incorporate finished tea bag compost into gardens beds for nutrient-rich soil!

Pros of Composting Tea Bags

Composting tea bags offers many benefits:

  • Keeps tea bags out of landfills and reduces waste
  • Provides nitrogen, potassium, and micronutrients to feed soil microbes
  • Small size of tea bags means rapid breakdown within weeks
  • Easy to collect from daily tea drinking routine
  • No need to purchase bagged compost materials
  • Finished compost improves soil structure and nutrient density

By repurposing my used tea bags into compost, I help create dark, crumbly, natural fertilizer for my garden!


Composting used tea bags is an easy way to reduce waste and return nutrients to the earth. I hope these step-by-step instructions help guide you in collecting, drying, preparing and composting tea bags successfully. Diverting this common household item from the landfill and making compost helps create a small, but valuable closed-loop system. With the right techniques, I can feel good knowing my beloved tea bags have a second life nourishing my garden!