Tea dyeing is a simple way to get a tan/ecru color when dyeing fabrics, ribbons, and laces. Remember that only natural fibers will take the dye. Tea contains tannic acid which is what colors the fabric. I like the aged look that tea dyeing creates but I find while silks dye beautifully and a richer color cottons can be pale or show almost no color. I think in the future if I'm dyeing cottons I will use an alum mordant first to see if it produces a deeper shade.
Tea is a natural dye so is not good to use on items that will be washed a lot. The dye will fade with time and definitely be removed if using detergents with additives such as stain removers.
Dyeing with tea is simply steeping tea bags (5-6 per gallon of water) in boiling water. I found tea on sale at Ross so the expense was not great. I added the fabric pieces, ribbons, and lace and let them set over night. I did notice that the silks could have been taken out of the bath in a couple of hours and been just as deeply colored but the cotton laces soaked up a little more color by leaving over night.
The term tea staining is when you brush on the tea solution as opposed to immersing in it.
Here are my results from this batch. (click on picture to zoom)