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How to compost tea bags


Glass mug full with tea and a tea bag.

There’s nothing like a good cup of tea to unwind after a hard day’s work. No matter if you are an occasional tea drinker or a tea lover, most of us have a selection of tea on offer in our kitchen. Knowing how to separate your rubbish is one thing, but what do you do with your used tea bags? No need to wonder, our guide will spill the tea on the question: Are tea bags compostable? 

What’s the tea?

Composting is a great way to get rid of your tea bags and great for your plants as it creates soil that is packed full of nutrients. However, not all tea bags are created equal. Some of the unassuming tea bags can contain polypropylene, a type of plastic. This material will not decompose. We recommend you check with the brand before throwing the whole tea bag onto the compost. 

Let’s get ready to compost

Once you have ensured that the whole tea bag is compostable you can follow these steps below:

  • Ensure teabags are cool enough to handle.
  • Squeeze out any excess liquid. 
  • Some tea bags come with little staples that attach the label to the string. You can simply take these off before composting the rest of the tea bag.
  • Throw away any nylon or fabric tea bags, but you can empty the contents out first if you want.
  • Now they are ready for the compost.

If you still have your doubts whether you can compost your tea bags, sources say you could simply split the tea bag in half and then place them on your compost and check up on them at a later stage. Although this is trial and error this could be one way for you to find out.

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Tea bags as fertiliser

There are a couple of other things you can do with your teabag and its contents - your garden and plants are sure to love it! Teabags are said to add a nitrogen-rich component – great for fertilising your tomatoes, for example. Here’s what to do to fertilise your plants with tea bags:

  1. Dig either the loose-leaf tea or the tea bags in around your plants. Adding tea leaves to your soil will help with drainage and is said to promote and increase the oxygen levels within the soil.
  2. Using it in your compost will balance out the carbon rich materials with the teabag’s nitrogen rich component.
  3. A mixture of tea leaves with other organic waste from your kitchen is ideal “food” for your earthworm farm if you have one. 

So, the real tea is: You can compost tea bags if they are made from biodegradable materials. We hope you’ve found our guide to be helpful so you can drink your next cup of tea knowing you can give your garden a treat afterwards. For more sustainability tips check out our articles on what to do with old socks, can you recycle wrapping paper and what to do with potato water