Tea Time: 6 Clever Ways to Use the Brew

Literature on the merits of tea is easy to find. Recent studies suggest that tea drinkers have more ability to fight viral infections like colds and the flu than non tea drinkers, and that substances in tea may even promote weight loss. But what if these facts still aren’t enough to sway you from coffee to tea? Have no fear. In honor of National Tea Month, we’ve rounded up some of the best alternate uses for the brew — six, in fact.

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1. Tea helps smelly feet

Though there’s technically not hard evidence to support this one, users swear on its effectiveness. Why? Tannins in tea (black tea, for example) are thought to create an unfriendly environment for bacteria and can help minimize sweating by shrinking sweat gland openings. To try, boil water and mix in three to four teabags. Steep and let cool for 15-20 minutes before soaking your feet for 20 minutes. Repeat once a day until you see — or smell — a difference.

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2. Tea soothes gums

Tannins in tea bags also help constrict blood vessels, which comes in handy here. For swollen, bleeding, and aching gums, try holding a cool tea bag to the sore area for approximately five minutes. Though drinking tea might be easier and more preferable, directly applying the tea bag to the gums is more effective. Once the swelling has subsided, however, try swishing brewed green tea. Antioxidants found in the tea will help fight bacteria and prevent plaque from developing.

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3. Tea cleans

Looking to return some shine to those wood floors? Look no further. Steep three to four black tea bags and allow them to cool. After washing your floor with your usual product, follow up with tea mixture and allow it to air dry. The result? Shine on. You can use old tea to polish furniture and tables, too, and other sources claim black tea can help you achieve spot-free windows. Just add the tea to an old Windex bottle and spritz away.

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4. Tea tenderizes meat

Stuck with a tough roast? Try a little tenderness, tea style. Add equal parts brewed tea and double strength stock to a pot to soften the meat, and voila. Here, tannins in the tea help tenderize in a manner similar to red wine, only for (typically) a lot cheaper.

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5. Tea aids potted plants

If you’re an apartment dweller but enjoy having touches of green around, try this tip for healthy potted plants: Place a few tea bags at the bottom of a planter before potting. Among other things, the tea bags will help retain water and leach nutrients into the soil. For those with more of a green edge — and more space — try adding contents of old tea bags to your compost, which will help speed up decomposition.

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6. Tea calms puffy eyes

A rough night means that you’re most likely having an even rougher morning. Try cooling tea bags in the fridge and using them as soothing eye compresses. Caffeine in certain teas will help to constrict blood vessels, while soothing and anti-inflammatory effects in others will help to reduce swelling.