crafty · Knittea

Craf-tea: Dyeing yarn with tea.

A few months ago I stumbled on some beautiful photos of a shawl that someone had knit and overdyed with tea. I immediately began thinking I could easily try my hand at dyeing some yarn with tea right in my own kitchen.  For those who haven’t dyed before, all you need to dye a protein fiber is a dye of some sort, heat and something acidic (usually citric acid or vinegar) to set the dye.

Acid dyes can be dangerous and are definitely not food safe, so I generally tend towards the food safe dyes that I can experiment with in the kitchen. I have dyed and overdyed yarn and fiber in the past with Kool-aid and gotten some fun results, so I figured this couldn’t be too difficult.

First I gathered a collection of teas I wanted to try dyeing with:

I made up a few mini-skeins of yarn and prepared them by soaking them in warm water.  Then I dyed on my stovetop using simmering pots of water, some vinegar and of course, my tea.

The first two I tried were the Sweet Harvest Pumpkin and the Sugar Plum Spice. One of the photos I had found was of a gorgeous plum colored stole, and I hoped that Sugar Plum tea would yield a nice plummy color.

Sweet Harvest Pumpkin
Sugar Plum Spice


After they had soaked on the stove for a while over heat, I removed the tea bags and let the pots cool to room temperature.  Then I rinsed in cool water and hung the skeins to dry.

My first results were mixed. I LOVE the color I got from the Pumpkin, but the Sugar Plum was definitely not plummy. I may try again with an even higher concentration of tea bags, but I may also try to find a more purple tea.

The next day I tried again with green tea, plain old Lipton black tea and the Republic of Tea English Rose tea.

Green tea
English Rose


Again, I was happy with my results, although I wish I had gotten more red out of the English Rose. I wonder if red is just a hard color to dye? This will take more research.

Regardless, I thought this was a fun project. I do have a knitting pattern in mind for later this year that calls for approximately 1100 yards of a neutral colored yarn and I may dye yarn with tea for that project!

And I’ll close with a pretty little picture of just a bit of what can be done if you’re crafty and love tea:

L to R: English Rose, Green tea, Sugar Plum Spice, Sweet Harvest Pumpkin, and Lipton

9 thoughts on “Craf-tea: Dyeing yarn with tea.

  1. Try hibiscus tea. It gives a pinky- purple color. I love the beautiful neutrals you have gotten so far!

  2. I’ve only accidentally over-dyed with coffee. It was not a pleasing outcome, nor would it come out.

    How color-fast are the tea stains?

    PS – this was the coolest! I hope it was fun!

  3. Thanks for sharing your results! I am waiting on yarn to arrive and then I’m going to play with it. I like to see how the different teas turned out because I have some good ole Lipton in the cabinet, and I now I know I can use that and have an idea how the color will be.

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