10 Terrific (and Surprising) Uses for Tea


Tea might be your beverage of choice if you're trying to stay refreshed on a hot summer's day or warm during the winter — and for good reason. Tea is a great alternative to soda, and it's full of rich antioxidants that help revitalize cells. (See also: Best Online Tea Merchants)

However, the benefits of tea go beyond the obvious. Here is a look at some of the most surprising uses for tea and tea bags.

1. Add Flavor to Meats

If you're tired of the same-old seasonings and looking for a unique way to prepare chicken or steak, sweet tea can give your dish a flavor boost. There are plenty of recipes online for cooking with tea. (I like this sweet tea-brined fried chicken.) You can even use the beverage as a tenderizer. Simply pour tea over meat and marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. (See also: Delicious Homemade Tea Recipes)

2. Clean Mirrors and Glass

There are several products available to clean mirrors and glass around your house. And while many are effective, you may prefer an odorless or chemical-free cleaner. If you have freshly brewed tea in your refrigerator, the drink can double as a glass cleaner. Dip a lint-free cloth into the tea, and then use the tea-soaked cloth to remove dirt, water spots, and other stains from mirrors and glass. Tea also works as a cleaner for toilets, floors, and countertops. (See also: 8 Green Cleaners You Already Have)

3. Remove Warts

These small, hard growths on the hand can be unsightly and embarrassing. But with the help of tea, you don't have to hide your hands. The antioxidants in green tea are an effective treatment for warts. Drink two to three cups of green tea daily to fight warts. Additionally, you can apply tea directly to warts. Brew a tea bag in hot water for about five minutes. Allow the tea bag to cool and then apply it to the wart for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat three times a day, and the wart will eventually dry and fall off.

4. Deodorize Closets

Poor ventilation, dirty laundry, pile of shoes — this combination can create some pretty foul odors in your closet. You can spray air freshener, but this product may only mask the odor. Tea bags, on the other hand, can absorb smells and naturally freshen any area of your house. Place a few unused tea bags in the back of your closets and inside smelly shoes. You can also mix tea leaves in your cat's litter box to eliminate odors. (See also: 10 Natural Air Fresheners)

5. Relieve Sunburns and Rashes

You probably know the benefits of applying wet tea bags to your eyes to reduce puffiness. However, thanks to tannins, tea can also relieve the sting from sunburns, razor burns, and rashes. Place a few chamomile tea bags in bath water and soak away skin irritations, or apply a wet tea bag or a tea-drenched cotton swab directly to affected areas.

6. Relieve Oral Pain

Whether you're dealing with a canker sore or a tooth extraction, biting down on a used tea bag can provide quick relief and reduce inflammation. According to the Cleveland Clinic,"The tannic acid in tea helps healing blood clots to form (blood clots function similarly to a scab on an open wound). It can reduce bleeding and soothe pain."

7. Prevent Dry Hair

If you can't keep your hair moisturized, experiment with a tea rinse. It's not your traditional hair care routine. However, "tea lowers the pH of hair, closing the cuticle for extra shine, softness and manageability," says Philip Pelusi, owner of Tela Design Studio in New York City.

Pour cooled, unsweetened tea over your hair after washing. Massage the tea into your hair and then rinse after 10 minutes. (See also: Luxury Hair Treatments From Your Kitchen)

8. Feed Your Plants

Used tea bags can improve the health of your indoor and outdoor plants. After brewing a cup or pitcher of tea, mix tea leaves within the soil. This trick works as a natural fertilizer and helps the soil retain moisture.

9. Eliminate Body Odor

Tea not only gets rid of odors inside closets and around litter boxes, but it can also quickly eliminate body odors. After handling onions, garlic, and fish, rinse your hands with tea to remove lingering odors. Additionally, soaking your feet in tea for 20 minutes can reduce odor. And if you deal with bad breath, gargling with tea can freshen your mouth.

10. Repel Mosquitos

If you want to enjoy your porch without being attacked by mosquitoes, burn dry tea leaves. After brewing tea, tear open the tea bag and dry out the tea leaves. Once dried, place the leaves in an incense burner and burn them when you're sitting outdoors. The combination of the smoke and scent will repel mosquitos and flies.

Do you have more unusual uses for tea you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I used tea for 2 of these this week! After getting a bad sunburn I used it to soothe my sunburn on my face and on my head and used it in my hair after. My hair and my face felt great!