Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Colour Of Tea - Part I

Quite some time ago, one of our friends from Authentic Fiction blogged about dyeing with black tea. I loved the colours and thought about trying this myself, but somehow I never got around to it. Today I received my copy of "Harvesting Color" by Rebecca Burgess, and I SO felt like trying out some plant dyes! I don't know whether I will keep the book, as some or maybe even many of the plants can't be found where I live (the book is really beautiful, though!), and when I looked at my supplies I returned to a German dyeing book for the recipies. As it turned out, all the leaves I could use would have to be soaked over night, so I desperately thought about what else I could use and the tea came back to mind. I've had a huge package of black tea for ages, and it wasn't that tasty in the first place (I used small amounts for my henna hair dyeing sessions, but 500 g do go a long way), so I decided to have a go.

I had previously (one or two years ago) spun some white fibre into yarns I wanted to dye - so you can see how long it can take me sometimes to actually realize my plans ;-) It took me a while to sort through the yarns and to label them. I put the details on pieces of paper, laminated them, and fixed the info to the yarns with thread, so I won't have difficulties knowing which is which after the dyeing process. I have lambs wool, a gorgeous blend of kid mohair and bluefaced leicester wool, merino/bamboo blend, and bluefaced leicester wool on its own. 7 skeins altogether.

I decided on using the dye bath twice, first with 300 g of yarn, and then again with about 200 g. I googled about dyeing with tea, found this blog entry (and the one by Authentic Fiction already linked to above) and some reference in German. I decided to just experiment with the amount of tea I needed. I took out my sewing machine and made a very simple bag which I filled with about 150 g of black tea.

I stitched it up, and now I had my very own, handmade tea bag ;-)

I put the tea into hot water, and I think I let it boil for about 20-30 minutes. Then I turned off the stove and let the dye bath sit for a while because I had other things to do

After about an hour, I put my first four skeins into the dye bath, without washing or even dampening them first. They didn't need to be washed because the fibres I used were commercially processed and thus without any grease or plant matter or anything.

I plan to simmer the whole lot for about an hour (which is nearly over, since I've taken my time writing all this) and then removing the yarns and putting the second lot in for another hour. I am so curious how the yarns will turn out, I do hope to get some gorgeous copper, though I am afraid they will be just brownish... We'll see :-) I'll take photos of the finished yarns when they are dry and when there is more suitable light.


  1. I've been meaning to get a copy of that book. I actually worked at the mill that Rebecca would go to on occasion to have fiber spun up.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what color the yarn come out. Maybe you can do several overdyes with one of the lots. I'll bet the color would become much richer.

  2. Nach meinem kompletten Umzug will ich auch endlich mal mit Tee färben. Hab hier 500g losen schwarzen Tee, den ich eh nicht trinke und schon ewig mal dafür benutzen will. Und für Teefärbungen kann ich auch meinen großen Topf nehmen, den ich fürs Kochen benutze und nicht bloß den Minifärbetopf.

  3. I thought of overdyeing them, too, but I will see. The colour is a nice sandy brown, quite beautiful if you like this sort of colour. I hope to post some photos today or tomorrow, depending on whether there'll be enough light for taking photos...

    Wolle im Kochtopf? Iiiihh... ;-) Aber zum Glück gibt's ja Spüli, und die meisten unserer Fasern sind ja auch nicht so verdreckt und verfettet, da müsste das schon gehen.



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