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So you thought tea bags were only good for making a decent cup of tea? Well your wrong! The tea tree, or tea bush leaves are what make the tea we drink today. The UK is well known for tea drinking, but tea is actually native to China. It was used by the Chinese to flavour boiled water. Tea plant cultivation in China began about 4,000 years ago but it wasn't until the 8th century A.D. that outsiders (the Japanese) discovered it. Europeans were finally introduced to tea during the 17th century and the British (who were the true tea lovers) spread its use by implementing new growing areas such as India.

There are three main varieties of tea on the market, which are green tea, black tea and oolong tea. Green tea, meant to be good for the body's antioxidant activities, is produced from leaves that are steamed and dried but not fermented. Black teas such as English Breakfast, and Darjeeling, come from leaves that have been fermented before being heated and dried. Oolong tea, which is produced from leaves that are partially fermented, a process that creates teas with a flavour, colour and aroma that falls between black tea and green tea. There are also speciality teas, which are flavoured with various floral or spice additions such as jasmine or chrysanthemum blossoms, or orange or lemon peel. Instant tea dissolves in water, and has been dried and granulated. Herb tea is not a true tea based on tea-shrub leaves, but rather an infusion of various herbs, flowers and spices. (Source: HungryMonster.com). Teas can come in leaf, tea bag or granulated forms.

So what do you do with the tea bag after you have made yourself a cuppa? Well we have some suggestions:

* Tea bags can be used for your compost, so why not have a cup to collect your tea bags in the kitchen and once it is full, pop them on the compost pile?

* Feeling tired, or you just want to pamper yourself? Pop two tea bags on your eyes to revitalise them. Properties in tea are said to be great for revitalising skin. Just like cucumbers.

* Use it as a dye. Tea, like coffee, makes a good paper dye. Pop a couple of tea bags in hot water then use it to dye paper.

* Add to the plant pots in your house. It deters flies and other mites, and it also improves the soil - but don't add too much!

* Place a tea bag on a burn/bruise/cold sore to help sooth and heal.

* The tannic acid that occurs naturally in black tea is said to help eradicate warts. Place a warmed, wet tea bag directly onto a wart for ten to fifteen minutes. Repeat two or three times each day and you will notice the wart shrink in size after just a few days of this treatment. (Source: essortment.com).

* Don't pour cooled tea down the drain. Water the houseplants instead. Apparently plants love tea too!

*Cooled camomile tea can be used as a hair rinse. For darker hair it make it shiny, and for lighter hair it acts like a dye.

* Wrap warm (but not hot) tealeaves in a piece of fabric and use for toothache. Something we haven't tried here, but it seems to have worked for many others!

* Sprinkle damp tea leaves over the ashes in your fireplace before cleaning it out. The tea will help keep the ashes from rising and getting all over the place while you lift them out. (Source: fca.com)

* Place a few used Tetley tea bags in the bottom of a planter, on top of your drainage material (gravel, Styrofoam, etc.). Add soil and your plants as usual. The tea bags will hold moisture and gradually leach nutrients into the soil. (Source: fca.com)

Further Information

For gifts made from recycled tea bags check this website out:

Learn the art of making tea here:
Tea Making Methods

Learn about tea here at the Tea Council:

To find out more uses for tea check out this site:
Uses for Tea

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