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How Do I Dye Cloth with Tea?

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Tea is a versatile, ancient drink. Legend has it that in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water. Some leaves from the tree blew into the water. Shen Nung, a renowned herbalist, decided to try the brew which we now call tea.[1]

Globally, 2,960,000 tons of tea is produced each year.[2] Most of that gets brewed once and then discarded. But tea can have a second life!

1.) A second brew- people often brew a second cup of tea from the spent leaves. Some people describe this cup as milder and sweeter.

2.) Plant a seed- Tea makes an excellent fertilizer. Plant some kale, in the spent leaves (either in a tea bag or within the loose leaves). Once the seed germinates transfer the plant and the tea to soil.

3.) Dye cloth- Save your spent tea (in the bag or loose) and dye some light-colored cloth.

  • Add 4 Quarts of Water to a Pot

  • Add 2 Tbsp Salt

  • Bring to a Boil

  • Remove Tags from Tea Bags (if applicable).

  • Drop Tea Bags or Loose Tea in Boiling Water (10-20 bags or teaspoons, more tea produces a darker color)

  • Remove from Heat

  • Let Brew for 15 Minutes (longer brew times produce a darker color)

  • Remove Tea

  • Wet Your Pre-Washed Cloth

  • Immerse in Tea for 2 Hours

  • Wring Out and Iron

  • Use

When your tea has finished its second life, it can have a third as an excellent introduction to a compost system. Wasted Food Stops with Us!

[1] (UK Tea & Infusions Association, 2021) [2] (World Green Tea Association, 2021)

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