So far on my blog, I’ve given some advice about where tea comes from, why loose tea is better than bagged tea, how to store and steep tea, and even how to fight cold and flu season with tea. Today, we’re taking a fun look at some slightly less common facts about, and uses for, tea leaves.
- Freshen up that lingerie drawer. With Valentine’s day on our doorstep, why not start with a little fun?! Place loose (unsteeped) tea leaves in a muslin bag in your lingerie drawer to add a subtle spice to your unmentionables. Try Earl Grey, which contains perfumy bergamot, jasmine with flowers, or a lavender-based tea, like Provence.
- Feed houseplants. Use cooled, steeped tea once per week instead of water to feed ferns and other houseplants that thrive in an acidic soil (most plants that bloom).
- Fertilize roses. Once the spring arrives, roses will need lots of TLC. Put used black or green tea leaves around rosebushes, then add mulch and water.
- Use as a conditioner for parched hair. Steep a strong black or green tea, apply to wet, just-shampooed hair and allow to dry. Rinse with water once hair is dry. This simple rinse will leave hair softer and with more shine.
- Soothe pink eye itch. Conjunctivitis can be quite a nuisance. Use a warm, wet tea bag (try camomile, rooibos, green or black tea) as a compress to soothe the itching and pain of pinkeye.
- Jazz up a rice dish. Place some loose masala chai or vanilla chai in an infuser and add to rice while cooking for flavor. Use this rice to make a delicious rice pudding!
- Polish wood. Steeped black or green tea leaves can help clean and shine wood furniture. Dip a soft, clean cloth into freshly steeped and cooled teaand use to wipe down tables, chairs and other wood furniture.
- Freshen your fridge. Rather than baking soda, place dried, used green tea leaves in a small open bowl in your refrigerator to help absorb odors.
- Get rid of fishy or garlicky smells. Rinse your hands with cooled tea after eating or preparing fish (or other stinky foods) to eliminate odors.
- Cure acne breakouts. Cleanse affected areas with cooled green tea to cure or reduce acne.
- Tenderize meat. Marinate tough meat in black tea to make it more tender. The tannins in tea are a natural tenderizer. Make a cup or two of strong black tea, allow it to cool and then use to marinate.
- Soothe yourself to sleep. Stuff dried tea leaves into your pillow! According to Chinese folk medicine, sleeping on tea leaves helps reduce blood pressure, relieve insomnia and soothe headache. Place a sachet of dried tea leaves inside your pillow (use a tea with lavender, camomile or bergamot) and replace regularly.
Kimberly Orlic, co-founder and chief operating officer of A New Leaf, LLC is a new entrepreneur, with over 25 years’ experience in the workforce. The mother of three daughters, she is an avid tea lover and developed the idea for A New Leaf along with her husband over 15 years ago while obtaining her master of business administration degree. She holds bachelor of arts and master of business administration degrees from Hofstra University.
Kimberly has over 15 years of management experience and significant experience in process improvement, systems implementation and enhancements. While at Hofstra University she demonstrated the ability to adapt to changing environments and learn different operations. In every role, she left a better organized and more efficient department. In her most recent role as the University Bulletin Editor, she recognized the potential of digital media and migrated a labor-intensive, print-only process to an efficient print, online, and mobile app product full of previously unavailable features. As a member of Hofstra’s public relations department, she was an integral part of the team that hosted the 2008 Presidential Debate and worked extensively on the program. A New Leaf is her first business venture. As COO, Kimberly’s responsibilities focus on running the retail operation, marketing, and promotion.
Loose-leaf teas are typically whole, unbroken leaves. The tea that is found inside many retail bulk teabags are lower-grade teas, such as dust and fannings. Tea dust and fannings are the smallest pieces of broken tea leaves that fall to the bottom of the sifting pile, so they have a larger surface area than whole leaves. A larger surface area means more opportunities for the essential oils (what makes tea flavorful and aromatic) to evaporate, leaving the tea dull and stale. Whole loose-leaf tea leaves retain the essential oils, aroma, and flavors and are eager to share them upon steeping.
Some teabags are made with whole-leaf tea. However, whole-leaf teabags are the exception rather than the rule.
Whole tea leaves love room for expansion, and have plenty of room to absorb water and expand as they infuse. This allows the water to flow through the leaves and extract a wide range of vitamins, minerals, flavors and aromas from the leaves.
Loose-leaf tea is great for the environment and is more sustainable than bagged tea; when using an infuser, or allowing the leaves to steep loose in a pot, there are essentially no paper products or other materials wasted in preparing a loose-leaf tea.
Additionally, the cost per serving of loose-leaf tea is better than bagged tea. With loose leaf tea comes a higher value product with low cost. Loose-leaf tea can be re-steeped more times than a single tea bag, and can hold flavor longer.
Many people think that loose-leaf tea is overwhelming at first, but with the help of A New Leaf staff, we can show you that minimal extra steps in steeping loose-leaf tea is certainly worth it when you experience the difference in taste and reap the health benefits.What most people don’t realize is that the set up time is actually the same as bagged tea. With just about the same amount of time, you can enjoy an even better cup of tea.