Move Beyond Chai: 6 Unique Ways To Use Tea Leaves
Image Credit: Tea leaves have many uses | Unsplash

Tea leaves have long been cherished for their role in crafting the perfect cup of chai. Our mornings and evenings begin with a kadak cup of chai, and we tend to limit the use of tea leaves to just that. However, their potential extends far beyond brewing a comforting beverage. From interesting culinary delights to surprising non-culinary applications, tea leaves offer many possibilities and scope to be used in our day-to-day lives.

Today, let's talk about six uses of tea leaves that go beyond chai, both in the culinary realm and in non-food-related areas. Be ready to be surprised!

Culinary Uses

Tea-Infused Desserts:

Tea leaves can lend their wonderful flavours to many varieties of desserts, adding unique twists to traditional recipes. Matcha, with its vibrant green hue and earthy flavour, is perfect for creating delightful ice creams, cookies, and cakes. Earl Grey tea, known for its aroma, mixes beautifully with chocolate, transforming brownies, truffles, and tarts into sophisticated treats.


Tea leaves can work wonders as a marinade for proteins like meats and tofu, infusing them with rich flavours, a lovely colour, and tenderising properties. Create a tea marinade using black tea for red meats like mutton or lamb, while green or jasmine tea works wonderfully with chicken and fish. Allow the proteins to soak in the tea marinade before grilling, roasting, or pan-frying for a delicious and succulent dish.


Recipe - Learn Lively

Do you know that the yummy pindi chhole that you enjoy with bhature gets its dark brown, tempting colour from tea leaves? Well, that is true. A potli or mulmul cloth is filled with chai patti and wrapped tight. It is added to the water while cooking the chole so that it soaks up the colour of the tea leaves.

Non-Culinary Uses

Natural Cleaning Agent:

The natural tannins found in tea leaves make them an effective cleaning agent for various surfaces. Brew a strong pot of black tea, allow it to cool, and then use it to clean mirrors, glass, or wooden furniture. The tea's gentle acidity helps dissolve grease and grime, leaving surfaces sparkling clean and streak-free. You can also use the leftover tea leaves after you are done brewing the tea as a scrubbing agent for your chopping boards.


Tea leaves possess natural deodorising properties that can help eliminate unpleasant odours. Place dried tea leaves in small pouches or open containers and position them in areas where odours are a concern, such as closets, refrigerators, or shoes. The tea leaves will absorb and neutralise unwanted odours, leaving the surrounding space smelling fresh and clean. This is the reason tea is kept separate from the other spices in your kitchen: to preserve their flavours.

Natural Fertiliser:

Used tea leaves can be repurposed as a natural fertiliser for plants. Rich in nutrients, tea leaves contribute to the soil's organic content and enhance its water-retention capabilities. Simply sprinkle dried tea leaves around the base of potted plants or incorporate them into compost piles to nourish the soil and promote healthy plant growth. So think twice before throwing away all your brewed tea leaves.

To conclude, tea leaves offer a wealth of possibilities beyond just preparing a cup of chai. While they can undoubtedly enrich many of our basic food preparations, their benefits extend to non-food-related applications as well. From infusing desserts and marinating proteins to serving as natural cleaning agents and fertilisers, tea leaves are versatile and environmentally friendly. Make the best use of this ingredient that lays around casually on your kitchen shelves.