How to Paint with Tea

July 26, 2022

by Kimberley K


An amazing aspect of tea is that for a plant- it is incredibly versatile and is way more than just a beverage.

You can add it to both sweet and savory recipes, you can use it to help your plants grow, you can even eat the leaves of most teas after you finished steeping them.

But today we are going to be talking about how to use tea to create art. Within this subject alone there are so many ways to be creative with tea, simply because it brings with it so many options.

Create Paints with Tea

Let’s start with painting using tea, arguably one of the easiest ways to use tea to create art. When it comes to painting with tea, you can pretty much use any kind and each will have a different effect.

'Watercolor' Paint

To create a watercolor effect, use loose leaf tea steeped to a strong concentrate.

We recommend using darker teas like blacks and pu-erhs to get the best results.

Stay clear of teas with lighter liquors like white tea and loose leaf green teas and greener oolongs.

Tisanes with hibiscus or beetroot in them work with this technique as well should you be looking for reddish tones.

Again, the aim of the game is to steep them strongly as the color will lighten as it dries.

Acrylic Paint

We find that powdered teas definitely work well when trying to create an effect closest to acrylic paints.

By using a high amount of powder and a small amount of water you get a thick paste and it’s very easy to create that strong concentrate.

With this method, the thicker it is the better, and you can always add water as needed depending on the effect you are trying to achieve.

Be sure to sift the powdered tea before you make your ’’paint’’ to avoid any lumps and to make it as smooth as possible.

Painting with Tea Bags

You can also use bagged tea to make art because most bagged tea is ctc (cut tear curl) and steeps strong. It makes for great paint when you are looking for brown and orange hues.

A fun way to use bagged black tea to create art takes inspiration from an artist by the name of Austin Kleon who uses black bagged tea to create art pieces that he calls tea bag doodles.

To create them, he drops the tea bags onto index cards, searches for pictures in the tea stains, and then uses a Sharpie to create sketches. This results in whimsical images that depict many different subjects.

Painting on Tea Bags

You can also use teabags as canvases themselves!

You can paint on them, and create mixed media art using techniques like stamping, embroidery, and more.

You’ll have to clean them out and dry them to use them as canvases but that little extra work really pays off in the form of beautiful miniature pieces afterward.

You can use any kind of tea bag for this and the results will vary. The Paper Tea Filters are a great, easy option for this!

If you are looking for a whiter/lighter canvas, use tea bags that contain either green or white tea.

If you are looking for the bags to have a little more of a vibrant look to them try using bags that contain herbal/fruity blends with hibiscus in them, which will result in the bags being stained red after drying.

Other Craft Ideas

Before drying out the bags be sure to steep them because you can also use the liquor to stain other mediums like book pages that can be used for scrapbooking and myriad other things.

If you’re looking for activities to do with children this is a great way to dye paper to make it look old which is great for creating things like treasure maps for imaginative play.

After steeping be sure to let the bags dry out and then remove the string, open the teabag and empty out the leaves. You’ll then be able to flatten out the bag. Placing them between the pages of a book or into a flower press for a day or so will ensure your tiny tea bag canvas is as flat as possible.

You can use the leaves themselves to create art as well just like artist Andrew Gorkovenko who uses dry loose leaves to create beautiful pieces. You could either use leaves from a previous session you have left to dry or expired leaves that are no longer at their best to create these pieces and you could create them inspired by absolutely anything you want. Gorkovenko chooses to create pieces inspired by the origin countries of the leaves he is using, which is a creative way to pay homage to the hard work that takes place at the start of each and every tea's journey from farm to cup.

We hope this post has helped you learn of ways you can get even more use out of your teas. If you do try out any of the methods we spoke about in this post please do post them to your Instagram and be sure to tag us @adagioteas. We would love to see your creations and how these methods worked out for you.

Join us soon for part two of this post where we’ll be covering how to use tea to dye fabric!