What do you call the sediment of (unstrained brewed) tea (or any other herbs) settles at the bottom of the cup or the teapot?

I have found the word "dregs" but I don't know if it can be used for tea or not.


I know that "coffee grounds"is another term for those sediments in a cup of coffee.

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2 Answers 2


Dregs simply means

the ​small ​solid ​pieces that ​sink to the ​bottom of some ​liquids, such as ​wine or ​coffee, that are not usually ​drunk:

You could certainly refer to the remnants of tea using the same term, and there are several instances online of this (7,750 results on google).

However, a lot of Brits would instead refer to them as tea leaves, using the same term for the remains as for the substance used to make the beverage in question.

  • Thanks a lot, @John Clifford. If the tea is strained well and there is no residue (?) inside it, can I call what remains at the bottom of the cup again "dregs" ? Like in " I don't like to drink my tea until the last drop, there is always some dregs left in my cup.
    – Soudabeh
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 10:23
  • I would consider that fine, and unambiguous in its meaning. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 10:41
  • I see.@John Clifford. And my last questions: (1) Does "dreg" have a negative connotation too? (II mean does "tea dregs" mean "leftover tea" too?) (2): Is it better to use "tea leaves" than "tea dregs"? :)
    – Soudabeh
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 10:45
  • 1
    If you're concerned about connotations, it may perhaps be better to use "tea leaves" as dregs does tend to sound rather unpleasant by definition: it's "the bits you didn't want to drink". Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 10:46

Dregs describes both liquids and solids left at the bottom of a cup or glass- basically anything you don't want to drink. It can also be used about wine or coffee.

It does have a distinctly negative connotation: it can be used in expression like "the dregs of society", referring to people of very low status- criminals, homeless people, et cetera. You can make allusions to this by referring to someone as "the dregs": this is deeply offensive.

As long as it's clear that you are talking about the contents of a cup, it's a perfectly acceptable term to use.

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