What to do with those used tea leaves? Just throw them in the garbage? Surely those fine tea leaves must have value after they have been brewed.

Typically, only objects with meaning, value, or usefulness are given names. Since western cultures don't have a name for used tea leaves, it's fairly certain that westerners haven't found a use for them.

But if we look to the east, we find that the Japanese have a name for used tea leaves - Chagara. And the Japanese have also found many uses for their chagara.

The Japanese have a centuries-old tea culture, so many of these ideas for used tea leaves were meant for traditional whole-leaf tea. The Japanese didn't consider used tea bags as chagara, but nonetheless this modern invention can sometimes be put into post-brewed use.

Preparing Used Tea Leaves

Chagara needs to be completely dry, so after you have brewed your tea, remove the leaves, strain them and lay them out on paper towel or a cloth.  In summer time you can put them outside to dry in the sun.

Once the used tea leaves are completely dry, you are ready to put your chagara into use.


Chagara is very effective at absorbing odors. It can be used in the refrigerator and freezer, or it can be sewn into sachets and stored in clothes closets and drawers.

It can be used for cleaning carpets. Simply dust your carpet with chagara, wait a few minutes to allow the used tea leaves to absorb odors, and then vacuum as usual. Not only will the tea remove unwanted odor, it will liven up the room with a fresh tea smell.

The deodorant properties of chagara make it useful for absorbing any unpleasant odors. Use it on your cutting board to eliminate food odors, or sprinkle some in the litter box.

Tea Pillows

Dried tea leaves can be stuffed into pillow cases for a fragrant sleep promoter. They are said to be helpful for anyone suffering from breathing difficulties such as asthma.


Used tea leaves are high in nutrients, so they make an excellent fertilizer for plants. Sprinkle some chagara on the soil and work it in with a trowel. Your plants will look better than ever!

Any other uses for used tea leaves? Let us know in the comment box below.