Natural Fabric Dying With Tea

5 Materials
2 Hours

Dying fabric with tea is great because for the most part you don’t need a mordant! Tea is rich in tannins which acts as mordant, giving the dye great staying power.

Tea is still a natural dye so it will fade slightly over time, especially if you use stain removers or detergents with bleach.

For our dying project we used pure white pompom trim in anticipation for another project (you’ll see soon! I’m excited for it!)

What you will need for this project:

- White fabric

- Black tea bags (I used decaf orange pekoe but you can use anything you have around)

- Pot

- Water

- White vinegar

- Tongs

We are going to be putting these pom poms somewhere where they will be in direct contact with natural light (hint hint). So even though I didn’t NEED to use a mordant, I did decide to give it an extra boost of staying power buy boiling the pom pom trim in white vinegar before I started the dying process. You can skip this if your project won’t be in direct sun light or in a high traffic area. 

This project is basically like making a very large and very strong cup of tea!

If you wanted the tie dye look (who doesn't these days!?) you would want to tie the cloth off now before you start the dying process.

You’ll bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your fabric. I like to get the fabric wet first so it absorbs the natural tea dye more evenly.

Once your fabric is fully saturated go ahead and put your tea bags in.  I started off with one tea bag and let it steep for 5 minutes to get a sense of what the color would be like. For me it was too light so I added a second tea bag and let steep in the boiling water for another 5 minutes. 

You can pull the fabric out slightly with a pair of tongs to see how the color is setting and get an idea of the final product. I loved this color so I took the pot off the element and let the fabric sit in the tea bath for 24 hours.

After a day of steeping I pulled out the fabric and rinsed it under cold water until the water ran clear. If you are doing this with clothing you will want to add an additional step here and launder it on a cold gentle cycle. 

Hang to dry- it was a beautiful day here in Toronto, Canada so I hung ours outside to dry.

I love the color and can’t wait to show you what we do with it next week! 

Here's the natural tea dyed pom poms beside the original

Excited about natural fabric dying as much as I am? Head over to our blog to see other projects Tall Dork and Matching

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Mary
    on Jun 21, 2020

    You showed half the project and we should come back next week for the finish?

  • JoAnn
    on Jun 23, 2020

    After the vinegar do you wash the pom poms and dry?

Join the conversation

3 of 9 comments
  • Jodi Murray Hendon
    Jodi Murray Hendon
    on Jun 20, 2020

    I needed beige Aida cloth for a counted-cross-stitch Christmas tree ornament. I didn't want to buy a whole package of it, because I doubted I'd need it again. So, I dyed a small piece with strong tea, and it turned out fine.

  • Tonya
    on Jun 24, 2020


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