How to Upcycle Used Tea Bags into Handmade Paper

How to Upcycle Used Tea Bags into Handmade Paper

How to Upcycle Used Tea Bags into Handmade Paper

Introduction

Recycling used tea bags into handmade paper is a fun and creative way to reduce waste. It’s easy to do at home with minimal supplies. Upcycling tea bags gives them new life and keeps them out of landfills. In this article, I’ll walk through the full process of turning tea bags into beautiful handmade paper.

Gather Supplies

To upcycle tea bags into paper, you will need:

  • Used tea bags – Collect spent tea bags for a few weeks in advance. You’ll need at least 10-20 tea bags but can use more for thicker paper.

  • Blender – A standard kitchen blender works great for this project. You’ll use it to break down the tea bag fibers.

  • Mesh strainer – The strainer separates the tea bag fibers from the residual tea leaves.

  • Paper deckle and frame – This gives your handmade paper its shape as it dries. You can purchase it or make your own.

  • Sponge – Used to press out extra water from the paper pulp.

  • Rolling pin – For smoothing your paper as it dries in the deckle and frame. Any straight cylindrical object will work.

  • Containers – Shallow bins or buckets for soaking, blending, and forming the paper. Plastic or stainless steel works best.

  • Water – To blend and soak the tea bags.

  • Optional: Pulp dye – For colored paper.

Prepare the Tea Bags

  1. Remove any staples, strings, or tags from the tea bags. Compost any remaining loose tea leaves if desired.

  2. Soak the emptied tea bags in warm water for at least 30 minutes. This softens the fibers and makes blending easier.

Break Down the Fibers

  1. Drain the excess water from the soaked tea bags.

  2. Working in small batches, tear the wet bags into pieces and place them in the blender.

  3. Fill the blender about halfway with clean water.

  4. Pulse the blender for 1-2 minutes until the tea bag pieces are broken down and the water looks brown from the released fibers.

  5. Pour the contents of the blender through a mesh strainer over a basin, collecting the strained pulp in a container below.

  6. Compost the leftover tea leaves screened out by the strainer.

  7. Repeat steps 2-6 until all tea bags have been processed into pulp.

Make the Paper

  1. If desired, add pulp dye to the blended tea bag fiber and mix well. Start with 1-2 drops per cup of pulp.

  2. Pour the tea bag pulp into your paper deckle and frame. Smooth it evenly into the edges. The pulp should be about 1 inch thick.

  3. Gently press a sponge on the surface to soak up excess water. Apply even pressure.

  4. Carefully remove the deckle. Lift off the frame.

  5. Allow the paper to air dry completely, about 24 hours. Gently flip it over halfway through.

  6. Once dry, peel the paper off the drying surface. Your handmade tea bag paper is ready to use for crafts and more!

Ideas for Using Your Upcycled Paper

  • Notecards
  • Scrapbooking
  • Gift wrap
  • Journals
  • Decorative boxes
  • Origami
  • Collages

Handmade paper from recycled tea bags reduces waste and showcases your creativity. With a few simple supplies and the steps above, you can easily upcycle used tea bags into beautiful paper crafts. Collect tea bags over time and get the whole family involved for fun eco-friendly projects.