Just when you've steeped your last cup and you think your tea leaves have no goodness left to give, hold on, they actually do! Our below short list of ideas for spent tea leaves was developed for pure, traditional tea leaves.
1. Add your tea leaves to a stock or broth. More than a millennia ago tea leaves were added to dishes and soups as a flavorful ingredient and we want to bring the idea of culinary tea back! Dry out your spent tea leaves overnight and pack them with your stock scraps (celery, carrots, onion, mushrooms, herbs) for the next time you throw a pot on the stove. Particularly for our vegan friends, spent tea leaves are a wonderful ingredient to add depth of flavor and color to your stock.
2. Add the spent tea leaves to your garden beds or compost. Tea leaves aerate the soil and provide nutrients and nitrogen as a great natural fertilizer.
3. Pickle your spent tea leaves and make a salad. One of our favorite recipes of the traditional Burmese tea preparation, laphet, is from The San Francisco Chronicle. Find the fermented tea recipe here along with a Burmese salad recipe.
4. Make Boiled Iced Tea. Boil your spent tea leaves in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-45 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for iced tea. If using dark teas, we recommend pouring over blackberries, muddling gently, and sweeting with a little Cranberry Blossom Honey.
5. Put your dried spent tea leaves in a little open tin or bowl to absorb unpleasant aromas in your refrigerator, car or small bathroom. Tea is a natural deodorizer and can even act as a foot soak to reduce odor.