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What is tea staining?

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Quick Answer

Tea staining is a method of dying that imparts an antique, lived-in look to linens, lace and fabric. For one tea staining project, gather cloth made of natural textiles, a pot or container for soaking the cloth, one to two boxes of tea bags, water, a burner, and a spoon for stirring. Light-colored fabrics are best for this project, but tea staining also works to tone down excessively bright colors.

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First, select and pre-wash fabrics that are 100 percent natural, such as cotton, linen, wool or velvet. Pre-soak the fabric in fabric softener before dying to prevent fading over time. Choose a pot or container that is deep enough to submerge the fabric completely, and then fill it with water, and bring to a boil. Steep between 20 to 50 tea bags in the boiling water for at least 15 minutes. Place the fabric in the pot, and soak until the desired shade is reached, stirring occasionally.

Use a mesh tea strainer to remove loose tea leaves from the water while the fabric soaks. Once you have the right shade, remove the fabric from the tea mixture, ring out, and hang to air dry. If the stain is too dark, rinse the fabric in clear water before it dries to lighten the color. To preserve the color, always wash your tea-stained textile by hand.

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