How to Make Colorful, Aged Paper with Tea

By Phawnda Moore in Art Tutorials > Other Tutorials

Let’s see what happens when paper and tea meet up—intentionally.

Recently I took a variety of black, green, and herb teas and applied them to watercolor paper and heavy-weight mixed media paper.

A collection of aged paper made with tea

The photo above shows the dyed papers resulting from black Lipton tea, green tea, and tinted tea, such as wine or rose. Aren’t the results amazing? (You can use cinnamon or peppermint teas if you want to add an inspiring fragrance to your art, too!)

Like watercolors, these papers will be more subdued when dry. I’ll use them as background sheets for calligraphy projects, but I’m sure there are many other art forms that will work nicely, too.

Let’s get started!

Step 1. Protect your work surface

I used white plastic trash bags to keep my table clean. As you know, tea has staining properties.

Step 2. Prepare liquid tea in hot water.

Hot tea and blank paper

Step 3. Transfer tea to paper

A large brush will spread it. Work quickly and instinctively. You can also take the tea bags out and let them rest a bit on the paper.

Spreading the tea water around to stain the paper

They’ll make darker areas, which you can repeat for patterns.

Step 4. Use your creativity!

Mix and match different teas on the same page for a wider variety of colors. Or use a bit of dishwashing soap in a toothbrush to bring out deeper tones.

Scrub with a toothbrush to deepen the stain

Common items (like straws) make interesting tools to “draw” lines and shapes as well.

Items like straws can create marks in the tea as well

I hope you’ll take a moment to try this project with any tea and heavy paper you have on hand. Enjoy!


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