© Editorial Pinch 2007
There are so ways to use and reuse tea leaves reinforcing the earth friendly reasons to buy loose tea leaves over bagged tea! Plant lovers – save your used tea leaves for your outdoor and indoor plants! The nutrient values of tea never ends. Tea compost can be easily made to give a boost to your plants*. Used tea leaves have an increased amount of nitrogen, minerals, and resources than store bought composts or fertilizers. Yes, tea’s benefits continue as it is mixed with soil to make a great, vibrant, and energizing compost. Compost stands for any decomposed organic matter, usually made from table scraps, grass, plant clippings, and most other things biodegradable (yes some people even use paper but it is not recommended). Plants thrive when compost is added to the soil. Unfortunately, most fertilizers are made up of chemicals and high levels of methane… Tea compost is so rich, it puts valuable microbes back into the soil and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria and fungi, preventing many plant diseases. It even improves the flavor and nutritional value of the plant.
There are two ways to use tea as a compost:
I. The traditional way of collecting and storing used tea leaves, with other plant and organic kitchen waste (a take out container works great for storing the compost). A pure tea compost may be too acidic for indoor plants, flowering plants or herbs. A blend of tea compost with organic kitchen waste is rich in microorganisms and is beneficial for your plants longevity and vibrancy.
II. Place the tea compost in water and spray it on the plant. This is great for most indoor plants, especially for vines, ficus and succulents. Outdoor plants will also thrive with this solution which is ideal for citrus trees (kills foliar and fruit diseases). And, of course, for the delicate indoor plants, a tea compost blend is recommended.
If you are an avid gardener, or just into composting, ask your favorite café or eatery if they are interested in donating their organic kitchen matter to you or to a commercial composter. Collecting organic compost is valuable and important. Biodiesel alternative energy is now reusing almost half of the world’s used vegetable oil (or trap grease) on the market. In conclusion, there just might be a future in used tea leaves.
* On a cautionary note: start with a small quantity on a patch on the plant as an experiment.
For further information, check out this recent article in the Seattle Times.