Are Tea Bags Compostable? A Guide to Composting Tea

April is Earth Month, and we're doing our part at ArtfulTea to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as we can. Customers sometimes ask us if there's an easy way to reuse or recycle old tea leaves, and the answer is yes! We'll cover how composting tea works, why it's beneficial, and how to get started.


Are tea leaves or tea bags compostable?

The short answer: usually! Loose leaf tea is almost always compostable, since it's made up entirely of plant matter. Tea leaves are actually full of nutrients that are good for your garden, so they're an excellent addition to your compost pile.

Alee Blair, our star saleswoman, regularly composts tea to add to her garden. Tea leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals that make other plants happy, like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.  "It seems to really help the plants," shares Alee. "It's from the earth, going back into the earth in a positive way—plants back to plants, coming full circle."

Since our teas are all loose leaf, it's safe and easy to add old tea leaves to your compost pile. And if you prefer brewing your tea in a tea bag, our paper tea filters are also compostable!

One note of caution: if you're composting tea bags, make sure that all components of the tea bag are compostable. Some tea bags include plastic, staples, or adhesive, which are not compostable. If you're not sure whether or not a particular tea bag is compostable, you may want to play it safe and cut it open in order to compost only the used tea leaves.

Using tea leaves to nourish your garden

Adding tea leaves to your garden is an easy, fun, and eco-friendly way to give new life to old tea leaves!

Composting your tea leaves

Alee shares a simple, straightforward method to composting her tea leaves: after you finish brewing a cup of tea, add your tea leaves to a container in your kitchen. This can be a specially designated compost bin on your counter, or even just a handy jar or bag.

Tea leaves are far from the only thing you can compost: you can also include vegetable scraps, old produce, and other kitchen odds and ends to the pile. Avoid adding meat, dairy, or oil to your compost. If you're curious about what other materials can be composted, the EPA has a great guide.

Once your container is full, add it to the compost pile in your garden. There are a variety of options to choose from when it comes to storing your compost, from simple bins and piles to more high-tech solutions like compost containers with a crank for turning. It's a good idea to mix or turn your compost on a regular basis to aerate the pile and accelerate the decomposition process.

In a few months, your compost will be ready to use in the garden! This mix of tea leaves and other kitchen scraps is packed with nutrients to help your plants grow.

Adding tea leaves directly to your garden

Don't want to wait for your tea leaves to compost? In some cases you can even add them directly to your garden by sprinkling them around the base of your plants like mulch.

Since tea leaves contain very concentrated amounts of certain nutrients, they're often a better fit for plants that thrive in acidic soil. Homes and Gardens has a helpful list of plants that may especially benefit from tea leaves.


Other ways to use tea leaves

Composting is one great way to extend the life of your tea leaves. You can also re-infuse your tea leaves to make them last longer, or use them in recipes!

Reusing tea leaves with multiple infusions

After you’ve brewed a pot or cup of tea, it can feel wasteful to simply dump your leaves and start again. The good news is that many teas can be steeped multiple times!

Whether you just want to make the most of your tea or are curious about how tea changes with each infusion, steeping your tea multiple times can be a great way to explore new flavors and characteristics of your favorite teas. Some teas, like oolongs and pu-erhs, are especially well-suited to multiple infusions.

Using tea in recipes

Tea is delicious on its own, but did you know that it can also be added to other dishes? Check out our collection of tea-based recipes featuring tea used in baked goods, smoothies, and more!

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