26 May 2012

Weekend DIY: How to Tea Stain

This post is written by contributing author Adrienne  Audrey.  

Tea staining  is an easy and natural way to dye fabrics and textiles. The result is a brown or taupe stain on the fabric which is perfect for craft projects where an antique or aged look is desired.

Tea staining works best on natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool or silk (synthetic fibers won’t hold the dye). This is a great project to try on a rainy afternoon. The best part is there are no harsh chemicals or dangerous dyes!

  • 1 dozen tea bags
  • Large pot of water
  • Fabric to dye
Begin by bringing a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Add your tea bags. You should use about 1 tea bag per cup of water used.  You can use all different types of tea. Traditionally black teas are used but you can try other types of tea and experiment with the results. 

I used Orange Pekoe and was pleasantly surprised by the orange tint to the fabric. If you have a package of tea that you bought but discovered you don’t like the taste of this is a great way to use it up. You can also but large quantities of tea bags in the bulk section of your grocery store or at the dollar store.

Reduce the heat and let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes then remove the tea bags from the water.

Soak your fabric so that it is wet and then submerge it into the tea water.  Stir it around to make sure the tea gets into all the creases of the fabric.  

Let the fabric soak for about 10 minutes or until the color you desire is reached. 

When your fabric is dark enough, remove it from the pot and rinse with water. Let it hang to dry. Fabrics will dry lighter so if it isn’t dark enough you can re-soak in the tea. 

Once you have reached a color you like on the fabric, iron it to take out any wrinkles and you are ready to use it in your next project!

It is best to use this method of dyeing on smaller projects as the results may not be permanent and may fade or wash out on a larger piece like clothing or linens.  The good news is if your tea stain does fade it’s easy enough to brew another batch of tea and give it another soak.

After you have mastered the tea staining technique why not experiment? You can try different varieties of tea and you can even stain other items like paper or eggs! Another variation on this project is to use coffee instead of tea for a similar effect.

Have you tried tea staining before? Please share your best tips with us in the comments!

Adrienne Audrey lives in Northern Washington on a farm with her husband and a menagerie of lovable animals. When she’s not blogging at Crafty Little Gnome, Adrienne can be found out playing in the garden, experimenting in the kitchen or working on a new craft project. Adrienne also sells handmade jewelry and accessories in her Etsy shop Adrienne Audrey Jewelry. Connect to Adrienne via twitter or facebook.


  1. What a fabulous idea Adrienne and it actually sounds easy! Thanks for the tip!

  2. I have been tea staining for many years and love the effect.

  3. My sister-in-law wedding fabric was dyed in tea, it look amazing

  4. I love this technique! Also the coffee version. I've aged paper with it before. Thank you for sharing in such detail! :)

  5. I have seen this done and it is very cool. I think I am going to have to give it a try one day soon!
    Everyday Inspired

  6. this is such a neat idea! love it!