How to Reuse Tea Bags

How to Reuse Tea Bags

How to Reuse Tea Bags


Reusing tea bags can help save money and reduce waste. Tea bags can often be brewed 2-3 times before losing flavor. With some creativity, used tea bags can also be repurposed for other uses around the home. In this article, I will provide tips on how to get the most out of your tea bags.

Determine If Your Tea Bag Is Reusable

Not all tea bags can be reused. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Tea type – Herbal and rooibos teas tend to allow multiple infusions. Black and green teas are more delicate but can often be brewed twice.

  • Tea quality – Higher quality loose leaf teas packed into tea bags can usually be reused more than cheaper bagged teas.

  • Tea bag material – Paper tea bags hold up better to multiple infusions than thinner porous plastic tea bags.

  • Used tea leaf appearance – If the used tea leaves still look whole and vibrant, the tea bag can likely be reused. If the leaves look broken down and dull, the flavor has probably been exhausted.

Test reusing your tea bag by tasting the second infusion. If the flavor is still pleasant, consider a third infusion. If not, that tea bag has served its purpose.

Tips for Rebrewing Tea Bags

Follow these tips to make the most of reusing tea bags:

  • Use cooler water – Rebrew with water that is 10°F/5°C cooler than the first infusion to prevent over-extraction.

  • Brew for less time – Cut subsequent brewing time in half, checking for desired strength.

  • Gently squeeze – Before re-infusing, gently squeeze out excess liquid from the used tea bag.

  • Store in a sealed container – After the first brew, squeeze out liquid, seal the wet tea bag in a zip-top bag, and refrigerate between infusions.

  • Add fresh tea – For a flavor boost, open the tea bag and add a pinch of loose tea before rebrewing.

  • Combine varieties – Mix and match the reused bags of herbal blends. The flavors will complement each other.

Creative Uses for Used Tea Bags

With a little creativity, the uses for used tea bags are many:

Soften Brown Sugar

Place hardened brown sugar in an airtight container with a used wet tea bag. The moisture softens the brown sugar so it can be scooped and measured easily.

Fertilize Houseplants

Bury used tea bags just under the soil of indoor plants. As the tea breaks down, it will release nutrients to feed the plants.

Make Tea-Infused Oil

Add 5-10 used tea bags to a 16 oz mason jar, fill with a neutral oil like grapeseed or sunflower, screw on the lid, and allow to steep for 5-7 days. Strain and transfer to smaller bottles to use for cooking, marinades, or homemade vinaigrettes.

Dye Paper or Fabric

Saved wet tea bags can be used to naturally dye craft paper or small swatches of natural fabric like cotton or silk. Experiment with bags of different tea types for a variety of earthy hues.

Deodorize Refrigerators

Rub the inside of a smelly refrigerator with a used wet tea bag to help absorb odors. The tea will impart a light fragrance as well.

Final Tips

  • Keep a small container in the fridge to collect used bags and keep them moist.

  • When traveling, bring along a reusable mesh infuser to get a second infusion from hotel tea bags.

  • Look for plastic-free tea bags and compostable options to reduce waste.

With a few considerations for type and quality, most tea bags can be reused to save money and resources. A little creativity transforms used tea bags into crafty home projects as well. Follow these tips to reduce waste and reuse your tea bags to the fullest!