How To Stain Paper With Tea Bags

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

If you are looking to give your boring, plain white paper an intriguing and whimsical look, consider using an antiqued effect achieved from tea stains to enhance journals, stationary and school projects. Best of all, staining paper with tea bags is inexpensive, easy, fun and an interesting activity perfect for kids and adults alike. There are several techniques you can use to stain paper with tea bags, and each has its own effects and one-of-a-kind results.


1. Steep tea bags in boiling water. Do not worry about filtering loose tea as the leaves will enhance the stained paper’s texture. Turn off the heat and let the tea sit until it cools.

2. Scrunch the paper with your hands to create texture and a more antiquated effect. If you plan to tear or rip the paper in any way, it is best to do it before staining or the white edges will be visible.

3. Use a calligraphy pen to write on the paper and give it a dated look.

4. Sand or tear sections of the paper using sandpaper to give the appearance of age deterioration. Use a finer grain sandpaper, if possible, for the best results.

5. Use a sponge or paintbrush to apply the brewed tea to the paper. You may also take the tea bag and apply it directly onto the paper, pour tea onto a piece of paper that is nestled in a pan or place the paper directly into the pot of tea. To achieve a more spotted, authentic and non-uniform effect, pour loose leaf tea over the paper. Be create and try experimenting with different effects and methods.

6. Lay the paper flat to dry or hang it from a clothesline. Ensure that the paper is not overlapping or folded to reduce the risk of tearing when you separate it. If you are dying a journal or other bound pages, it is best to use wax paper between the pages so that they do not stick together.

8. Reuse tea bags or brew a new batch to repeat the staining process after the paper has dried, if desired.

8. Char the edges with a flame or crumple up the paper to add an extra distressed feel to the paper.

If you are attempting to turn the paper a darker color, you can increase the strength of the tea by boiling the tea for several minutes before you let it cool or by adding more loose leaves or tea bags.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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