Don't drink the tea...


...when you can stuff your tea mug full of fabric scraps and end up with some *antique* color instead.  These bits & pieces sat for three days in a strong dilution of Rooibos tea which I used as a natural plant dye.  Mind you, I wasn't very tempted to drink it anyway - something about the smell really puts me off.  Although I'm aware of its medicinal qualities (very high in antioxidants) and I generally love any plant material that comes from South Africa, this is not the beverage for me.  But for dyeing?   It serves a whole new purpose...

All these scraps were WHITE (or had a white background)...natural fabrics only, no synthetics.  I was pleasantly surprised by how differently they absorbed color.  Let me put them into groups so you can get a better feel for the differences:

100% cotton

Rayon/silk blends (top & middle), linen (bottom)


The cottons took the least color but they do have a pleasing old-world feel, much nicer than their previous stark white selves. The silks took on the most color, by far, and are my hands-down favorites.  Look at that bottom one, now an absolutely gorgeous bronze!  I don't know silk varieties very well but I believe that's an organza...

Rooibos literally means "red bush" so I was hoping for some of those elusive pinks that many of us have been striving for of late.  After the dyeing is over, one is left with these...

Is it just me or do you find those stains on the teabags interesting too?  Seems I am not alone - look what I found out amongst the cyberpixies...

abstract tea bag collage, by Armen Rotch

Tea Bag Quilt, by Charlene Hughes

Should any of us be in need of more caffeine for the day, imagine this...entire walls constructed of used tea bags.  Bottoms up!

Poetic Justice, by Tania Bruguera
2003 installation at the Istanbul Biennial


  1. Love this post - your dye pieces are lovely and, as a used tea bag hoarder, I loved seeing those works of tea bag art. :-)

  2. Beautiful color, I, too love that bottom silk one. I knew a woman once who made wonderful small dresses from used paper coffee filters. She collected them for over a year from a local coffees shop - great colors!

  3. je préfère le café.. mais ces installations sont fantastiques!

  4. Ha, great... I did that with hibiskus tea the other day, liked the bags and kept them too... - only drink black + green tea (+ coffee), but this is tempting to go buy a packet of rooibos...

  5. the silks turned out well, i just might have to go buy some of that tea.
    i have a friend who makes gorgeous wearable art installations using teabags, and she collects them in the thousands.
    The wall piece above is extraordinary. great post, k.

  6. what a great variety of wonderful colors in your "newly old" fabrics. i love the feel of tea-dyed fabrics. what are you going to do with these? the tea bag art is pretty interesting too!

  7. I love these, such subtle colours.

  8. Love all of them - but especially the silks. Hmmm looking at the wall of teabags I'm thinking that is taking recycling and reusing to a new high!

  9. Your collection of textiles was interesting to begin, now improved!
    I, too, have just begun collecting tea bag papers for future collage use, but for some reason I never thought about the coffee filters, which I also have. Love the red edges on the rooibos bags. I haven't drunk that for a while, but I may need to by a box now that I've become a beverage scavenger!

  10. Superb post - really enjoyable :D

  11. What an excellent post. Really cheered me up, thank you :-) x

  12. might just to have a cuppa now. thanks for a great post christi. some lovely subtle shades of tea here.....


  13. It was love at first sight!!! Fabulous Christi!!!

    I have a friend called Mithun who does amazing art installation pieces and who has worked with tea and with coffee grinds. His blog can be found here :


    I have some catching up to do here. Hope you"re well.

  14. First thought..
    mmm nice cup of tea would be perfect just now... second... what could I do?
    Thanks for the inspiration Christi!

  15. to each his own but I LOVE red tea.. as I am a tea drinker you should see all the different types of tea I do have.. thanks for sharing all your dyes and for also sharing the wonderful tea bag art works-- that last installation is fabulous.

  16. rooibos makes me sick to the stomach.

    for red maybe hibiscus tea?


  17. what a wonderful post...it really bought a smile to my face

  18. I love your blog and the colors of the tea bags ...are great !
    Love from the Netherlands ♥RINI♥

  19. wonderful post and thank you for sharing your results -- I dye silks for arashi shibori and lately have been frustrated with the commercial dyes -- I will try the tea bag route! :-)