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23-04-2006
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Tea Staining Clothing
Tea Staining


There are no historical records as to which came first Japanese or Chinese tea staining. However, if you follow the general patterns of east Asian cultures, there is a general tendency for tea staining to flow from China into Korea and then Japan. This is because tea was first drank and researched on by the Chinese.

Tea like many other cultures from China were first imported into Japan during Tang dynasty in large quantities. They came through Korea just like the art of pottery.
Tea stained clothing items were not considered that avant garde in Chinese civilizations starting from Tang. This was because of the greater fascination for silk and dyeing using flower dyes and other forms of dyes instead. Tea staining was only appreciated by a small minority.
Although all tea plants originate from the species of camelia sinensis, only green tea powder is really suitable for dying as green tea powder due to its manufacturing process is able to retain the green color for dying purposes. Oolong tea for example having gone through fermentation and pan frying has lost most of the properties of green and they are charred dry brittle leaves to begin with.
Thus, green tea which really originates from central China was utilized as a form of dye in that region. Central China would mean Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou etc. They are used to dye fabrics like handkerchief, clothing, scarves etc.
Then this spread to Korea and Japan. Korea and Japan developed their own types of tea staining and they developed the art further. It won more acclaim in those countries. However, silk and other dyes were more popular still as red, yellow, orange colours were still more popular than say green.
Tea staining is a dying art in China and barely surviving in Korea. This is because of the onset of modern techniques of mass manufacturing process for dyeing. However, it is still being advanced in Japan in certain towns which are now famous for tea staining methods. They include certain towns in Kyushu the southern part of Japan where green tea is extensively grown and certain parts near Tokyo. Tourists can visit these places and buy tea stained items like handkerchief scarfs etc.
The process is simple. Green tea is made into a powder form. And they are concentrated and mixed in a solution. Hot water is also mixed into the solution. Clothes are then dipped into a wooden bucket with the dye. The parts that are not meant to be dyed are carefully tied up to avoid the mixture. And then the dyed clothes are left out to dry. The colours then stays permanent.


from easterntea.com

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23-04-2006
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How to- from about.com

Here's How:
  1. Prewash your fabric. Or, test the tea staining process with one new and one prewashed square. Soak in tea and time the results.
  2. Add hot water to a very large soup pot. If doing a large quantity of fabric then use the hot water setting on the washing machine.
  3. Add 3-5 teabags to the pot or 5-10 in the washer. Steep a few minutes.
  4. Add fabric to the tea. Immerse fully and stir to get all areas of the fabric soaked.
  5. Check the fabric color every 10 minutes or so.
  6. For a faint tea stained look, soak the fabric for as little as 20 minutes.
  7. For a deep tea stained look, soak the fabric for as long as 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Drain tea out of kettle or washer, then refill to rinse fabric. Rinse well several times.
  9. (Clean washer by setting it to go through an entire cycle with only a little soap and bleach.)
  10. Hang tea-stained fabric on a line to dry or put it into a clothes dryer on low setting.
  11. Iron and use fabric for curtains, pillows, or other projects.
Tips:
  1. Experiment on sample pieces of fabric.
  2. Watch the process carefully so fabrics don't get too dark.
  3. Rinse fabric well before hanging to dry.
  4. Various tea blends may offer a variety of subtle colors.

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23-04-2006
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guess what i am doing right now...??....




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23-04-2006
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^ Heh. I actually did this 25 years ago to some white cotton shirts... I had practically forgotten about it, thanks for the reminder!

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23-04-2006
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what are you doing it with, soft? i want to see the results
does this only work on white fabric?

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23-04-2006
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sweet!

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23-04-2006
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So what color do you get? A brown/tan or a green/tan. Soft - any poss. of seeing what you've dyed? I'm really curious. Thanks in advance if possible. Ali

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23-04-2006
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I've just been looking online for images - but havent found anything. It looks like it 'color-ages' the fabric - the kind of color that your grandmothers silk slip becomes after being wrapped in tissue paper for 30 years. So I assume it would work best on pastel/light colors. Might have to go and have an experiment.

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23-04-2006
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Yes, pics please!

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24-04-2006
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tea time
 
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i did this for my victorian shipwrecked project at uni that was shown in paris! it was so much fun with a large bucket of tea

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24-04-2006
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Thanks for posting, I love this, they do it with stage costumes to antique new clothing. Looking forward to photos!

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24-04-2006
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Oh my god, I was just thinking about this!! A friend gave me a beautiful cotton skirt, but I find it too white, it looks a bit dated and stiff. I'm definitely going to try and get it a more worn, vintage colour with tea. I'll report back once I'm done!


Last edited by Nyx; 24-04-2006 at 07:11 AM.
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24-04-2006
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Wow... is the dye so strong that it doesn't need a mordant? It must be crazy then to spill some tea by accident in the kitchen. Permanent when dry?!
We've used tea sometimes in school to stain paper and fabrics to make it look aged... It works very well.

Great thread, softgrey!
I hope to see your results or examples of tea-stained articles...
(I think the key thing to keep in mind is that the best fabric to use will be natural fabrics, like cotton, wool, etc. rather than rayon, polyester, etc. because they're more likely to accept these dyes.)


Last edited by gius; 24-04-2006 at 07:38 AM.
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24-04-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gius
(I think the key thing to keep in mind is that the best fabric to use will be natural fabrics, like cotton, wool, etc. rather than rayon, polyester, etc. because they're more likely to accept these dyes.)
That's a good point. I once spilled some tea over a pale pink top that I think was mostly polyester. I didn't think much of it, but once the tea dried, the stains didn't disappear as I'd expected but turned into a weird shade of lilac. I had to ditch the shirt

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24-04-2006
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I find this very interesting---maybe I should try it in the future! I never knew this could be done with tea.

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