green tea leaves in a pot
Sustainability | | C. Yu

3 Ways to Use Green Tea Leaves in Your Garden

Drinking a daily cup of green tea can inspire many things in our lives. Whether it is inspiring us to take more moments to slow down and enjoy the present moment, or to be more mindful of the world around us. When it comes to being more mindful of the world around us, one thing that drinking tea has helped me become more mindful of is composting.

Now that it is summer, many of us may be spending more time outside and tending our plants or gardens. Whenever there’s a chance to reduce, reuse, and recycle, we’re all for it. Luckily, we can practice all three every time we drink a cup of tea by composting.

Here are 3 ways to use green tea in your garden, but first, let’s discuss the benefits.  


fresh tea leaves in a basket

The Benefits of Composting Green Tea Leaves

Research done in the Ecology, Environment and Conservation Journal shows that green tea (as well as other teas made with the tea camellia such as black, white, oolong, and even some herbal teas) naturally has a higher rate of tannins which can promote plant growth [1]. Adding used green tea leaves to your garden or plants can also add extra nutrients to the soil. With any compost, it is important to add a healthy balance of nitrogen-packed organic materials and carbon-rich brown materials such as dried leaves.

A lot of store-bought plant fertilizers contain nitrogen which promotes and encourages plant growth. Green tea leaves are perfect organic materials to compost as they are packed with nitrogen. They are also rich in potassium and phosphorus, which can help add nutrients to your potted plant soil or balance any carbon in your compost.

As we dive into the 3 ways to use green tea in your garden, make sure to consider the pH needs of the plants being fertilized since using tea as fertilizer may not be fit for all plants.

hands holding tea refills

1. Making a Mulch

A simple way to use green tea leaves as compost is by spreading a layer of tea across the surface. As always, be mindful that not all plants may like the natural acidity of tea leaves, so be sure to always understand your plant’s needs before using tea as compost. We suggest collecting enough green tea leaves before spreading them in your plants or directly in your garden. This tea mulch helps keep moisture in the soil while regulating the temperature. It also prevents unwanted weeds and bugs from growing.

Another option you may consider if you do not have enough green tea leaves is to bury them directly in the garden. When burying green tea leaves, bury them away from the roots. You also have to be wary of what kind of tea bags are used as some tea bags use polymer threads that are not compostable. 

digging soil to add green tea leaves for growing

2. Adding Green Tea Leaves to a Compost Pile

Another great way to use green tea leaves as compost is to add them to an existing compost pile. Adding your used green tea leaves to an already established compost pile speeds up the decomposition process. When adding tea leaves to a compost pile, it is important that there is a balance of nitrogen-rich materials (typical greens such as tea leaves and other food waste) as well as carbon-rich materials (dried leaves and brown boxes for example). Aerating and turning the pile once a week is also important to the acceleration of the decomposition process.

compost tea in a jar

3. Making a Compost Tea 

Compost teas are one of the best fertilizers you can make for your garden and have many benefits. It is water-infused organic material that is then used to water your plants. According to a study in the academic journal, Advances in Bioresearch, compost teas can be used to decrease and prevent plant disease and protect roots. It also can be used as a potential alternative to synthetic chemical fungicides [2]. There are many different methods and organic materials you can use when making compost tea, so it is essential to understand your plant’s needs.

One method to make compost tea with used green tea leaves. Simply add any used green tea grounds to a jar and fill it with water. Let the tea leaves and water sit for 24 hours. Depending on how strong you make it, you may need to add more water to dilute the compost tea before using it in your garden. You may strain the compost tea first, or you can directly pour the compost onto the soil of your plant beds.  For tea drinkers, composting with tea not only supports the well-being of plants but also contributes to reducing waste on the planet. 


[1] Gupta et. al (2020). Impact of green tea compost on soil quality and growth of plants. Ecology, Environment, and Conservation. 26. 103-108. from [2] Shaban et. al (2015). An Overview of the Benefits of Compost tea on Plant and Soil Structure. Advances in Bioresearch. 6. 154-158. from 

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