I drink tea a lot, mostly black tea. A few years back I decided to try staining paper with tea because I’ve read about how it can aged paper so I started to do this when I had the time after a cup of tea. I experiment too, with different ways of making stained marks on the paper for some variety, even though by the nature of it each paper would be unique. I was staining some papers again today so I though I share a little on my process.
I will make a cup of tea of myself, and once I have finished the tea I will use the teabag for staining. Most of my tea are store bought and in pre-packed teabags. Each teabag can stain several pieces of paper, depending on how large the paper is too. I usually stain 11″ x 14″ papers, and do about 2-3 sheets of them, though you can definitely do more should you wish to. One important thing: teabags are rather fragile, so they will break apart during this process, which will end up in some degree of mess when the tea leaves come spilling out everywhere. So work on a surface that can be easily cleaned up. I also don’t recommend cleaning up immediately after this project, because the tea leaves are wet and in a clump, which doesn’t clean off that well. It is easier to clean them when they are dry, unless you are using a vacuum cleaner.
Here’s a look at the two sheets of paper I stained today:
I often start off with a light touch, so that the teabag doesn’t break apart that easily. The more tea leaves you have in your hand, the more number of sheets you can work on, so keep them in mind if you would like to meet many sheets at once.
The first sheet of paper is done by simply dragging the tea bag across the paper. I use the string attached to the tea bag to pull it across the paper so you can tell that the stains are a little bit more continuous. You could fill up the entire sheet of paper with stains if you wanted to, but I left some white spaces around for some interest. Dragging the teabag is probably the gentlest form of staining, as you can tell by the lack of tea leaves on the paper (as compared to the second photo). Do also take note that the first sheet of paper you work on would also buckle more than the others, because the teabag would still be rather wet from the tea drinking session.
The second sheet of paper is done by holding the teabag with your hand and then randomly pouncing onto the paper. This is when it starts to get rough and the teabag starts to break apart. You can tell by the tea leaves that are scattered all over the paper. However, this technique also gives you better control and a much more varied look and intensity of stains.
You can go even rougher and more intense from here, though I didn’t do them today because I wasn’t in the mood to clean up from the mess it would create. You could rub the tea bag on the paper, in a motion similar to ink blending tools. This causes the tea bag to rupture the most, spilling the tea leaves everywhere. The resulting stain will leave the marks from the rubbing motion, so it’s another different look altogether.
To clean up, I would suggest leaving the paper to dry. Once they are fairly dry you can proceed to brush off the tea leaves off the paper. As I mentioned earlier, this would be a much easier way to clean up when the tea leaves are dry. I mostly use these pieces of paper to make my art journals, treating them like patterned papers. You could do the same technique on like cardstock for cards or scrapbooking and any kind of paper actually. Hope you would give this a try and if you have any other technique of making stained marks on paper with teabags, share them in the comments below!