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Tea leaves?

I've recently gone back to drinking loose-leaf tea rather than tea bags. I seem to remember my gran putting used tea leaves as a fertilizer in the garden. Is there any science to this or will I be wasting my time crawling around the garden putting tea leaves around my plants?!  I know people put tea bags in their compost but I wonder if the leaves would be an extra (and free!) plantfood ? 🍵


  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 1,858
    Hi @Jules41, I am a dedicated loose tea drinker, many, many cups a day! I got a bit concerned by some information about the used leaves making compost acid so e-mailed the nice people at RHS.

    They said tea leaves, once used, are an excellent, sterilised soil improver. Most of the acid is removed by brewing the tea so they have little impact on acidity. I get really good compost and I save a bucket or two of leaves to use as a mulch in the winter, by spring they have loosened up my really manky clay soil.

    Not really any use as a fertiliser however. Welcome to loose tea, you won't want to go back! Especially as it seems to take years for the bags to compost down whereas the loose tea just makes the whole compost thing lovely.
    Haven't been anywhere for over four months but I'm here and I'm mostly happy
  • Jules41Jules41 Posts: 178
    That's fantastic - thanks for that! I'm off for another cup of tea....
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 773
    edited August 2018
    But it's not that much bulk is it?  If you have a workplace, where there is standard tea drinking, the bags stack up.  However annoyingly some of the major brands have been using plastic in their bags, which can make composting more of an effort.  I'd have thought once through the composting process even coffee grinds are fine.  If it 'once lived' it ends up in mine.
  • JacquimcmahonJacquimcmahon Paris FrancePosts: 476
    Slugs hate them! Kept the slugs at bay this spring by sprinkling them around my young plants. Read it somewhere in a French garden magazine and have to set it really worked wonders for me. (Either that or something else deterred this years slugs but I don’t know what!). :wink:
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 3,759
    I use the spent tea leaves [from chopped up tea bags] around my roses, along with banana skins.. also chopped...  I don't do compost heaps..   both these are excellent for roses, but I don't know about other plants...
  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 1,858
    You'd be amazed at the bulk Wayside! I can drink 8-10 cups a day (not last month, too flipping hot) and it mounts up. Mind you, spendthrift that I am, I only use the leaves once for tea and once for compost  ;)
    Haven't been anywhere for over four months but I'm here and I'm mostly happy
  • Well my coffee grounds have worked to keep the slugs off,or dead.I did a close inspection of my Arabis in a wall top garden,and every morning I dump the grounds up there.Small slugs all around,dead before they reached the plants. Emphasis on small,I don't know if those big fat ones with the orange belly would succumb!
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
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