If oolong tea is part of your regular routine, you may become dismayed by the growing pile of used tea leaves. Of course you can always just throw them out, but it seems a shame to toss something that has given great pleasure.
Luckily, frugal Taiwanese tea drinkers have come up with lots of ways to put those used tea leaves to use.
Dry Those Leaves
All of the following tips require dry tea leaves. To dry your used oolong tea leaves, spread them on a plate or other large flat surface and expose them to the sun. If they are spread thinly, they should be dry within a couple of hours. Thicker layers of leaves should be turned frequently to ensure they are completely dry, otherwise they will become mouldy.
Dry oolong tea leaves have a deodorizing property, and are slightly abrasive when crushed. This combination of properties makes for a good cleaning powder.
Wrap the tea leaves in a cheesecloth and crush them. Then slightly moisten the cheesecloth to clean table tops, counters, floors or any other surface. This cleaning pad will pick up dust and hair while giving the surface a gentle scouring. The pad is especially good on windows as it does not leave any residue to streak the glass.
There are many ways to use tea leaves to remove unpleasant smells. A bowl of dried tea leaves in the refrigerator will absorb odours better than a box of baking soda. Similarly, a bowl of dried tea leaves in your closet will keep your clothes smelling fresh.
Put a few dried tea leaves in your shoes and leave them overnight. The tea leaves remove odour and dampness so you can start your day with a fresh pair of shoes.
Once you've mastered the art of cleaning with tea leaves, you're ready to move on to more advanced subjects.
Feeling tired and stressed out? A cup of tea is always a good way to recharge the batteries, as is a hot bath. Why not combine the two and take a tea bath?
Place the dried tea leaves in a cheese cloth and tie the top, then put it in your bath water. A tea bath makes your skin soft, and the wonderful aroma will chase those blues away.
You can also burn the tea leaves as a mosquito repellent. The sweet aroma of burning tea leaves is certainly a good alternative to the traditional, toxic repellents.
Finally, if you need to keep your eggs fresh, and your refrigerator is otherwise in use, bury them in a large pile of dried tea leaves and keep them in a cool, dry location. This was a common use of tea leaves in days gone by, prior to the arrival of electricity in Taiwan's mountain villages. It is supposed to keep the eggs fresh for several months.
So now you have no excuse for throwing out those wonderful tea leaves. But even if these tips don't appeal to you, at the very least, the tea leaves can be composted to make rich, nutritious soil for your garden or house plants.