How To Make Tea-Stained Towels

updated May 6, 2019
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Welcome to Rikkianne who’s trying out for a spot on our editorial team. Enjoy!

Tea dying is a natural dying process that leaves a beautifully subtle color wash onto fabric. Dip dying is becoming a popular trend with soft furnishings. It not only provides a natural, handmade look; it is actually very simple to do yourself. I have made a set of three towels in two shades of tea. Black and raspberry transform natural, unbleached tea towels into soft, warm, and functional accents.

What You Need


  • Unbleached Flour Sack Tea Towels: Easily found online in a variety of sizes. Prices range from $12.00 to $30.00 depending on size and count.
  • 8 to 10 tea bags: I used black tea for a brown shade and raspberry tea for soft pink.
  • Cooking pot: To boil your tea.
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Glass baking dish: Glass is preferred so that you can keep an eye on the dying process.


1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil.

2. Turn off heat and immerse tea bags for 8 to 10 minutes until you have a solid color tea.

3. Remove tea bags and gently pour tea into your glass baking dish.

4. Prep your tea towels by rinsing them with water. If you are working with large tea towels you will need to vertically fold them so that they will fit nicely in the dish.

5. Wearing rubber gloves, dip half of the tea towel into the tea. Lay the other half over the side of the dish and let sit until your desired shade is achieved. While the towel is soaking, you can press it down into the tea from time to time just to make sure the half is fully submersed.

6. When your towel has reached the shade that you want, gently lift the tea towel out of the dye and wring excess tea over the dish.

*I soaked my towels for 15 minutes, then rinsed. I decided that I wanted to go darker and submersed them again for another 15 minutes. Due to the unbleached towels being a natural shade, you will want to let them soak longer than your common bleached white towel. It’s all up to you. You can soak them as long as you want to reach the desired color.

7. Rinse your towel in cold water until water runs clear.

8. Line dry the tea towel.

Additional Note: Naturally dyed tea towels will have a longer life when hand washed. Commercial detergents can be too harsh for the soft color wash.

Thanks, Rikkianne!