Using tea as a fertilizer?

samanthab(z5 MA)February 1, 2011


I have been reading lately about how people use tea as a fertilizer for their plants. I have read about using brewed, diluted tea that has cooled down to water the plants, mixing the used tea leaves into the soil, etc.

My question is can you use any tea for this? Most of the information I have found only mentions Green Tea but I drink a lot of fruity teas (blueberry, raspberry...) would these work just as well?

Thanks in advance!


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Because the leaves of these plants had many nutrients while they were growing they will be there in the dried leav es used to brew tea, so yes there will be nutrients in the tea as well. Maybe not much, but many of us do put these leaves in our compost mixes in the expectation that they will supply some nutrients.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 6:44AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There is some question about the allelopathic effects of caffeine (and maybe other chemicals) in brewed tea and coffee. Better, perhaps, to drink the tea and use the spent tea leaves on your plants.

I'm also wondering if you might be reading about compost tea or fertilizer tea (made from manure).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:36AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The alkaloids, tannins (and other phenolic compounds), and some of the other organic compounds in both coffee and tea are allelopathic. I don't think there is major concern about pouring dilute coffee or tea on plants in our gardens/beds ...., but I don't think it offers much benefit, either. I wouldn't be concerned about adding post-brewed coffee grounds or tea to our compost piles or beds, but I would refrain from using either on containerized plants or in container media because of their known effects, which would be magnified by the small volume of soil involved relative to growing in the ground.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:36PM
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I have heard that coffee grounds and tea leaves could have allelopathic tendencies and have read some that they may have, but my experience in using both coffee grounds and tea laeves sprinkled on planting beds, on the soil in containers, or mixed in my compost does not indicate they do. All I have seen after applying them to soil is better growth. Possibly that allelopathic property would be seen at higher levels of application, something like several pounds per square foot which is not what I have done.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 6:35AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

FWIW - that's precisely why I drew some delineation between using them in gardens/beds/compost and using them on containerized plants. It's likely that the way they benefit soil structure outweighs any minor allelopathic effects they might have in gardens/beds/compost, but it makes sense that their inclusion in the small volumes of soil common to container gardening would have significantly greater impact.

I think that one of coffee grinds' greatest appeals is that they already LOOK like the rich black compost we all try so hard to achieve - they have a psychological advantage, so to speak.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:58AM
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I use large quantities of both coffee and tea grounds (post brewing) and the garden is doing just fine. Not the biggest fan in using them as a liquid fertilizer, and prefer to let the soil do the work in breaking it all down.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Ground to Ground website

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 6:38AM
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Im new at composting and someone told me that I could make tea out of the compost and use that for my plants. Do I still need to use another food for the? If so what is a good choice?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 8:01PM
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Colise, what you posted is a new topic and should have been on a new post, but you can brew compost tea. The link below provides a good tutorial.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Compost Tea

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 6:37AM
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Hi Samantha,
Green tea for gardening is actually not what you have in your kitchen. It is a mix of decomposing materials in a bag, steeped in a closed container filled with water. It allows you to produce nitrogen for your garden instead of wasting it in a compost pile. You can get more info on - tip n tricks. Hope this helps. Roy

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:51AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you are expecting tea to provide a source of nitrogen, it does not. Tea leaves are basically a carbohydrate with very little initial protein or amino acids. Coffee grounds, on the other hand, do have protein and act as a fertilizer when applied directly to the soil.

Way back when (circa 2002) there was a frequent poster here who occasionally provided photos of her lawn fertilized only with coffee grounds. Compared to the neighbors it looked fantastic. I consider her to be the 'mother' of the UCG movement. Nobody was talking about coffee grounds before she brought it up. At that time the topic of tea and tea leaves came up relatively naturally. The group conclusion was that tea is not a fertilizer.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:16AM
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I have never used or analyzed tea or coffee for use as a garden fertilizer, mainly because I have no source for the quantities needed for my market garden.
I do use 'gardeners green tea' and I believe there is a misconception of what it is. I can assure you it is a fantastic source of nitrogen. 'Gardeners green tea' is NOT tea you would drink or store in your kitchen cabinets. Please check out - tips and tricks

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 10:58AM
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RyBresee, this forum is supported by people like you that pay to advertise, not use it for free self promotion.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 7:26AM
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You are right - I apologize for over-stepping my liberties on this web-site. I was only trying to help gardeners get better results and show the history of the term "green tea." This is my last post - sorry I offended you.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:31AM
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