How to make chai from old tea bags | Waste not

You can whip up a soothing chai with used tea leaves and your favourite combination of spices

Like coffee grounds, there is no shortage of spent tea leaves. According to World Tea News, 25,000 cups of tea are consumed worldwide every second. That’s about 2.16bn cups a day. As my grandma taught me, using tea bags more than once is a great way to cut your tea costs in half and help save all the resources that went into producing it. Or take your used tea bags to the next level and make chai tea with a simple combination of your favourite spices, as in today’s recipe.

Another fun way to reuse tea bags is by making “drunken prunes”. Put a handful of prunes and four used teabags (earl grey for preference) in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for an hour. Drain (reserve the liquid, and keep it in the fridge for drinking as a sweetened iced tea), then pack the prunes tightly in a clean jar, cover with brandy and leave overnight. Enjoy on crumpets or with dessert or cheese and a cup of chai.

Chai tea

Chai tea is a delicious way to upcycle used teabags, breathing new life into an otherwise wasted product. If you plan to make chai more than once in a day, keep and reuse the pot of leaves and spices. Once finished, tea leaves (minus any plastic teabag material) compost well, adding nitrogen to soil.

Serves 1

150ml whole milk
1 spent tea bag

Sugar, to taste
Spices (root ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper), to taste (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring the milk and an equal quantity of water to a boil with the tea leaves from one used teabag. Add an optional heaped teaspoon of sugar, plus a mixture of ground or whole spices to taste – just a small pinch or less of each should be enough. Once boiling, simmer for three to five minutes, until the chai is the colour of the tea you like to drink, then strain and enjoy.

Contributor

Tom Hunt

The GuardianTramp

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