Dyeing with tea.

Here’s a fun summer project to do. Perhaps you want to give some of your linens a vintage look. Change the look of kitchen towels, tee shirts, cloth napkins or other fabrics. What a great way to reuse those tea leaves that you were originally just discarding after you made mountains of cold brew!

What you need:
Already steeped Tea Leaves
Table Salt
Water
A Few TBSPs of Distilled White Vinegar
Fabrics of your choice (Works on natural fibers, such as cotton, silk, linen, and wool)

You can use any tea you wish. Black tea will work the best, as it has the darkest color.

I worked with Black, Green and Fruity Berry Tea (Red/Pink). I dyed size small children’s tee-shirts, so depending on the size of the fabric you are using, will depend on the amount of tea used. I used approximately 1 1/2 Tbsp loose tea per 8 oz of water. I was looking to make the color as rich as possible.

To begin, measure out the amount of water you are using, based on the amount of tea leaves you have. I used 4 cups, 6 TBSP loose tea and 2 TBSP of salt for each item that I dyed.

Adding the salt to the water, helps to set the color in the fabric so it doesn’t come out as easily when you wash it.

Fill a large pot with the water and the salt. Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Once the water boils, turn off the heat, add the loose tea and let steep until you see a deep color that you desire. Steep for a minimum of 15 minutes. (Although I steeped for about 40 minutes). Once your water is the color you desire, strain into another container to remove the loose tea. Discard tea leaves.

Tip: Wet your fabric before dyeing. Wash pre-used fabric to remove any stains or dirt. If you’re using new fabric, rinse it in water. Be sure to wring out the excess water in the fabric before dyeing.

Place the wet fabric in the tea water, making sure that it’s completely submerged. Soak the fabric in the tea for a minimum of an hour. I actually let mine soak overnight. The longer that you leave the fabric in the tea, the darker it will be dyed. The fabric will dry lighter than it appears when wet, so soak it longer than you might think.

Once you have decided that the fabric has soaked long enough, remove from tea water, rinse the fabric in a quick rinse in cold water and then soak the fabric in cold water and vinegar for 10 minutes. A TBSP of vinegar in the cold water helps to set the color.

After the fabrics have soaked in the vinegar water, wring out the excess water and lay or hang the fabric out in a warm, sunny spot, and allow it to dry completely.

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