Burying tea bags in your garden supports garden life

If you are a tea drinker, you may be pleased to know that used tea bags come in handy, especially in the garden, for all its nutrient-rich content.

There are a number of reasons why you should no longer fling those used tea bags in the garbage. Instead keep them for your garden and let them support the growth and maintenance of your yard.

Even if you don’t have a garden but keep plants at home, used tea bags can also be used in the care of plants.

Tea bags are just another variety of green waste, along with garden waste, and kitchen vegetable waste. If you bury tea bags in the soil in your garden, tea adds nutrients to the soil, helps keep pests at bay and increases the decomposition of other items.

Tea bags are mainly leaves, and tea leaves will break down in your compost heap, just like all the other leaves that normally go in there.

In recent times, it has come to light that tea bags contain plastic. So that the bag will seal properly, tea bags a very small quantity of the plastic polypropylene, which melts when heated and so can be used to make a secure seal.

For this reason, tea bags are not entirely biodegradable. Although polypropylene does not break down in the compost heap, it does break up, so it’s hard to find any trace of a tea bag after six months in a compost heap.

A majority of British tea bags are made from banana leaf. The fibre from the leaf stalks of abacá is both strong and fine.

The UK Tea & Infusions Association advocate the burying of tea bags in the garden for its nutrient-rich power, which can be of great benefit to any garden. It says: “There may be only just over 3g of tea in a single tea bag, but that’s still over 180,000kg of useful organic matter every year. In addition, although it’s the organic content of compost that improves soil structure, retains moisture and suppresses weeds, there are useful plant nutrients in there too, and here again tea bags can make a contribution.

“As leaves go, tea is towards the high end of nutrient concentrations, with four per cent nitrogen and 0.5 per cent phosphorus, so Britain’s annual consumption of tea bags represents over 7,000kg of nitrogen and nearly 1,000kg of phosphorus. All things considered, one thing’s for sure – used tea bags are far too valuable to just throw away.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

3 thoughts on “Burying tea bags in your garden supports garden life

  1. Would it not be better to open the tea bag and put the contents on the compost heap or in the ground? I’d wouldn’t be keen to have small pieces of plastic from the tea bag in my soil even if they aren’t visible. Just because it isn’t visible to the eye doesn’t mean it’s not there and not affecting the soil’s microbacteria. Also i note from the photo the person appears to be using a tea bags that were once attached to strings. This type of teabag frequently doesn’t contain any plastic because they’ aren’t sealed with heat so maybe that’s the reason it wasn’t visible after 6 months. When I used to put tea bags in my home composter they’d be there after a year, after other things had long broken down.

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    1. The advice here is simply a guide. If you wish to open the used bag, best to follow your intuition on what feels right for you. The image is of a teabag like the ones teapigs use which is fully biodegradable

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