Don't toss those unused tea bags! Believe it or not, they're capable of far more than you realize. Green tea eye masks, anyone?

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
April 20, 2021
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If your favorite tea bag is eager to venture out of the mug and explore some new territory—or you're just never going to use that box of age-old rooibos—look no further. A simple bag of tea can do much more than, well, brew a warm beverage. And because tea comes in so many flavors and styles, the options are pretty much endless for this versatile pantry staple. Whether you're eager to amp up your home baking or indulge in a DIY spa day, try these tricks to help get the most out of your tea collection. 

1
Infuse Simple Syrups

Amp up your baked goods or at-home cocktails with tea-infused simple syrups. To make, steep tea as usual in a cup of water. Remove tea bag and melt in equal parts sugar. The syrup can then be stirred into iced coffee, tea, cocktails, or used in or on top of baked goods. 

2
Infuse Alcohol

Instead of splurging on a fancy bottle of flavored booze, make your own! Simply let a bag of tea seep in a small jar of your preferred spirit for 15 minutes—that’s it—and you’ll taste its complex, concentrated flavors. If you want more flavor, use more tea (rather than tacking on more time, which can lead to bitterness).

3
Make Tea Eggs

Add earthy, herbal flavor to boiled eggs by soaking them overnight in tea. Classic Chinese tea eggs use black tea as well as aromatics to infused the already cooked eggs with a tasty exterior. To make, boil eggs in water as desired, then crack the shells or completely peel, and soak the eggs for 12 hours in a steeped black tea (or another flavor) to your liking. 

4
Relax With Green Tea Bag Masks

Need a quick anti-inflammatory eye boost? Soak two unflavored green tea bags in warm water and rest on your closed lids. The caffeine in green tea will help de-puff the gentle skin around your eyes and the antioxidants will refresh your skin.

5
Use Herbal Tea in the Bathtub

After all, herbal tea is just a combination of aromatic dried herbs, fresh flowers, spices, and other ingredients that both smell and taste amazing. Add two herbal tea bags to a warm bubble bath to soak in the herbaceous-ness. 

6
Paint with Tea

Feeling artsy? Before you splurge for a new art kit, consider using what you have at home: Tea. Fill small bowls with boiling water, and infuse various flavors of tea in the water for several minutes. Vary seeping times for darker and lighter colors, and get to work on your canvas. Watercolor brushes work best with this technique, but you can get creative with sponges, potato stamps, or whatever tools best suit your creative mood. 

7
Make Cold Brew Tea to Go

Instead of splurging on a bottle of iced tea when you’re out, prepare for the day ahead by making your own iced tea. Take a reusable water bottle, fill it up with water, and add a teabag. Seal the top so the string is easily accessible. Leave in the fridge overnight, remove the teabag on your way out, and you have a cold, delicious tea drink for free.

8
Compost Used Tea Leaves

Whether you have a compost bin at home or a community compost drop off, don’t forget to include your spent tea leaves. While some tea bags are compostable as is (check the label), others will need to be cut open and added to the organics pile to help create plant fertilizer.