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Repurpose Your Tea!

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CLEANING TIPS
Great ways to use tea and honey besides drinking and eating.  A perfect opportunity to re-purpose your used tea leaves.

Hardwood Floors
Black tea has been used to mop hardwood floors in the past. Take advantage of the tanic acid in the tea to clean the floors and add shine to a dull old hardwood floor. As with all cleaning solutions for your floors, start by mopping a small area in a hidden spot to check for discoloration. Do not use tea to mop laminate wood flooring. Always follow manufacturer's instructions for best results. To mop your hardwood floor with tea, boil a pot of water and add 5-6 tea bags or a half-cup to 1 cup used tea leaves to the water. Turn off the heat and allow the tea to sit and steep for around 10 minutes. Carefully pour the tea into your mop bucket. Add cool water to lower the temperature if needed. Place your mop into the tea water and wring out thoroughly. You do not want a soaking mop. Mop the floor as you would normally, using the tea water as your mop water. Allow the floor to dry.

Odor Removal
Use used green tea leaves to prevent odors in your refrigerator. Add green tea leaves to a bowl and place uncovered in the refrigerator. Even pungent garlic and onions will be absorbed by the tea leaves. If you've diced up something smelly, try rubbing your hands with your used tea leaves to remove and absorb the smell.  A good way to make use of your used tea leaves!

Microwave Cleaning
Boil water and add a few green tea leaves to steep after you've removed the pot from heat. After it is cool enough to handle, use the tea water to wash down the inside and outside of your microwave. It will help remove odors and add a fresh smelling clean to your microwave oven.

COMPOSTING TIPS

Benefits
Tea leaves are organic matter that can improve the structure of your soil. They increase soil drainage, help with healthy aeration for plant roots and help the soil retain moisture and nutrients. Because their nitrogen content can be as high as 4.15 percent, they are also an excellent source of nutrients for your plants because they gradually release nutrients into the soil. You can also use paper teabags -- not polyester ones -- as compost for the garden.

Tea Leaf Mulch
One way to add tea leaves to a garden is by placing them on the surface of your soil as mulch. This allows them to keep the soil moist and regulate its temperature so plant roots don't get too hot or too cold. As they slowly release nutrients into the soil, they also attract earthworms that aid in the decomposition process. And because tea leaf mulch blocks sunlight from the soil, it prevents weeds from germinating and trying to overtake your garden. To mulch around a plant, place a 3- to 4-inch layer of tea leaves on the soil, without letting them touch your plants.

Composting Tea Leaves
Another way to incorporate tea leaves in the garden is to compost them. This speeds along the decomposition process to provide your soil with a healthy dose of nutrients. This is also when the tea leaves, as organic matter, improve your soil's drainage and aeration. To compost tea leaves, place them in large bins that are preferably 3 to 5 feet wide and 4 feet tall. Mix in other composting materials to create a medium that's 1 part fresh, green materials high in nitrogen -- examples include fresh kitchen waste, coffee grounds and grass clippings -- and 3 parts brown, carbon-rich waste, such as dried leaves. Turn the compost pile every week to aerate it and water it occasionally to keep it damp. After four to six months, the materials should decompose into brown, crumbly compost that you can work into your garden's soil.

Application Tips
Tea leaves can benefit the garden year-round, but the best application method differs depending on the timing. During the active growing season -- usually in summer -- you should apply tea leaves as mulch or add them to a separate compost pile to give them time to decompose. You don't want to directly incorporate them into the soil as compost then, because you may disturb growing plant roots. You can safely work fresh tea leaves into the soil at other times of the year, when plants are resting or dormant.

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