What do you do with your infused tea leaves? Most people simply toss them in the garbage can. However, tea leaves are a precious resource that we can reuse in the home. Chagra is an excellent way to get even more out of your favourite drink.

What is chagra?

Chagra is, quite simply, used tea leaves that have been dried after infusion.

We don’t have an exact word in our languages to describe infused tea leaves. However, that is not the case in The Land of the Rising Sun, where tea ceremonies are traditional.

Chagara is the Japanese name for infused black or green tea leaves.

This word is made up of kanji cha (茶) which symbolizes “tea” and gara (殻) which means “leftovers.” Therefore, the word chagara means “tea leftovers (infused).”

How should I dry tea leaves?

You must make sure that the tea leaves are fully dried before using them in the home. The best way to do this is to place the tea leaves in the sun and turn them over from time to time until they are completely dry.

You can also bake the tea leaves in the oven until they are dry. This is a faster method and your kitchen will benefit from the fragrant aroma of your tea.

  • Preheat your oven to below 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread a single layer of tea leaves on a baking tray.
  • Place the baking tray in the oven and leave the oven door open. This allows the steam to escape and speeds up the drying process.
  • Bake the tea leaves in the oven until they are dry. Turn the leaves from time to time so that they dry evenly.

Now all that’s left to do is use your chagra.

Uses for chagra

In the home

As a deodorizer: Fill small sachets with dried leaves and place them in your refrigerator, bathroom, garbage can or shoe cabinet. You can also rub wet chagra on your chopping board to remove odours.

Thanks to the tannins in tea, you can use chagra to remove light rust from kitchen utensils. All you have to do is rub your cutlery with wet chagra!

Aromatic Sachets: Run an herbal bath or place sachets in dressers, drawers, closets, or anywhere that could benefit from a fresh scent.

Carpet deodorizer: Sprinkle chagra over your carpets a few minutes before vacuuming. Chagra also works well with a little baking soda.

A sparkling mirror: You can easily clean your mirrors with wet chagra. Rub a wet chagra sachet on the mirror and then wipe it clean with a cloth (microfibre preferably).

Water your plants: Place chagra sachets in the middle of the soil and water your plants as usual. The sachets will swell and keep the soil moist for longer.

Mosquito repellant: Simply take infused tea leaves, press into solid balls, place them on candlesticks and burn them as you would incense.

In the garden

Plant-based fertilizer: Spread the chagra in your garden and allow your plants to benefit from nutrients that will help them grow faster (you’ll be surprised!)

Compost: Wet tea leaves make an excellent compost. The worms will be delighted!

Beauty tips

Puffy eyes: Dry the tea bags and when your eyes need a little refreshing lift, wet the tea bags and place them on the eyes as you would a cucumber eye treatment.

In the bath: Add chagra (in a mesh sachet) instead of bath salts for a relaxing bath that will give you soft, smooth skin.

Foot odour: Chagra can be used in a foot bath to eliminate foot odour. You can also sprinkle a mix of chagra and baking soda into smelly shoes. Don’t forget to empty out the mixture before putting the shoes on.

Tangled hair: Infuse your remaining sachets in water and use the water to rinse your hair. This will nourish both your hair and scalp.

PS: Don’t forget to put your used tea bags in the compost. Four O’Clock tea bags are biodegradable!