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Dyeing with Black Tea

Need a way to hide that tea stain on your fave white tee? What better way than to add more tea. Check it out.

The simplest of all dye pots! Dyeing with tea is a great way to introduce yourself to dyeing with botanicals while also bringing some earthy brown tones to your wardrobe (something you truly never knew you needed but did). I did this in one afternoon and there wasn't much to it. For this experiment, I used 3 black Tetley tea bags and I will be dyeing 1 cotton top in this dye pot for reference.

Don't forget to take a look at our "Intro to Natural Dyeing" blog before starting your dyeing. Find out what fabrics are best for dyeing, which plants give you the best colours, how to properly pretreat your fabric, and how to care for them afterwards.

What You'll Need

  • Black tea bags or loose tea

  • Medium or large pot with lid for dyeing (depending on how many clothes you will be dyeing at a time)

  • Wooden spoon

  • Sieve or strainer (only if you are using loose leaf tea)

*** It is preferable that you keep your dyeing equipment (pots, spoons, etc.) separate from your cooking equipment. Depending on the dye stuff you are using, some plants are safer to use than others in your common cooking pots.

Let's Get to It

1. Add In Your Tea and Cover with Water

Add your tea bags or loose tea to your dye pot and fill your pot about 1/3 of the way to the top with water. For my dye pot, I added 3 black tea bags. My colour turned out very dark so you do not need much to get a good dye.

2. Add Some Heat

Put your pot on the stove on medium to high heat for about an hour to start to steep the tea. Turn your heat off and let it steep for an hour to an hour and a half. Check your colour with a piece of fabric or a small part of the shirt you're dyeing.

3. Remove Tea

I was already happy with the colour after only heating once so I removed my tea bags. If you used loose leaf tea, use a strainer to remove the tea from the dye.

4. Wet Your Fabric & Submerge in Dye Pot

Dunk your items into a bowl of cold water, ring out excess water and then submerge your clothing into the dye pot. Only add enough items so that they can all be fully submerged in the dye.

5. Add More Heat

Put your dye pot back on the stove on low for about 30 to 45 minutes. I let my pot cool for about an hour and a half and after checking the colour, I was ready to take my top out of the dye pot. If you want a darker brown colour, leave your clothes in the dye pot and gently add more heat.


Once you are happy with the colour of your fabric, you can remove your clothes from the dye pot. Ring out the excess dye and let hang dry. This dye process was much more simple than the avocado dye and perfect for someone just getting introduced to natural dyeing.

And here is the final product! This shirt was white and 100% cotton.

And that is it for my how-to on dyeing with tea! Check out our "Intro to Natural Dyeing" blog to see how to take care of your naturally dyed pieces. I would love to see all of your experiments on natural dyeing and see how you brought some new life into your wardrobe. If you give it a try, make sure you let us know how it went! And if you have any other suggestions or questions about natural dyeing, for sure leave them in the comments below!


Much love, TGH xx

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