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How to Make Your Own Paper With Teabags and Pasta Starch

I've been crafting since I could hold a paintbrush. I love to repurpose random things. Most of my articles are about arts and crafts.

The cover of this book is made from tea bags and pasta starch glue.

The cover of this book is made from tea bags and pasta starch glue.

Recycle Teabags Into Crafting Papers

I love making my own paper, but my craft space is limited. The paper pulp method is messy and time-consuming—two things I'd prefer to avoid. Teabag paper is the perfect alternative for me, and its use in craft projects is seemingly endless.

The secret ingredient here is pasta starch. Next time you drain your cooked pasta, keep the starchy water. It’s the glue that will keep the teabag sheets together.

3 Reasons to Make Teabag Paper

  1. You are not throwing the teabags in the trash. You are extending their life and your dollars by giving them a renewed purpose. You can also reuse the tea leaves as fertilizer in the garden.
  2. Teabag paper has a unique vintage feel and makes wonderful paper for many craft projects.
  3. By using pasta starch water as your glue, you are eliminating commercial glue, which is a chemical. This is an Earth-friendly, vegan, and green craft.

What You'll Need

  • Teabags (used and dried)
  • Leftover pasta starch water
  • Soft paintbrush
  • Plastic sheeting or a plastic shopping bag
  • Sharp point scissors
  • Decorations like string, napkins, gel pens, stamps, stamping ink, etc.
Removing the tea leaves and cleaning the teabag

Removing the tea leaves and cleaning the teabag

How to Make Teabag Paper: Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Remove the string from the teabag. I use small, sharp-nosed scissors and try to avoid cutting the paper. Larger scissors with thicker tips tend to break the paper.
  2. If your teabag has a small staple in it, the sharp-nosed scissors will help to lift it out.
  3. Open the teabag along the inner seam and dump out the tea leaves. Use your fingers or a soft toothbrush to remove any stubborn leaves.
  4. Lay your first teabag on some plastic sheeting and brush the pasta starch water all over it. Be gentle. You don't want to break the paper.
  5. Lay another teabag next to the first but overlap them along one edge; brush on more of the pasta starch.
  6. Repeat this process, overlapping edges and coating the paper, until you have the size of paper you want.
  7. Now add another layer of teabags over the first to thicken the paper. I typically make a two-to-three-layer-thick piece. If you layer too much, the teabag paper becomes brittle and is hard to fold. It loses some of its flexibility. If you are making tags or bookmarks, you may consider a fourth layer.
Pasting the teabag sheets together

Pasting the teabag sheets together

Decoration Tips and Things to Remember

There are a few art mediums that don’t work well with this kind of paper but there is always a workaround.

What Type of Scissors Works Best?

I like to buy sharp-nosed nail scissors from dollar stores. They typically come as part of a manicure kit.

How Do I Color Teabag Papers?

If you use berry teas, the papers will usually be naturally tinted after use. If you want a particular color for your paper, you could soak the teabag sheets in food coloring prior to pasting them together. I was thinking of doing a nature journal and would dye my teabag sheets green first.

What Type of Paint Should I Use on Teabag Papers?

Watercolor didn’t work well but acrylics were fine. However, if you want to splatter some watercolor on your paper for a speckled effect, that could look really nice. Especially if it has a shimmer to it.

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What Inks Will Work Best?

Sharpie ink bled into the paper, but gel and ballpoint pens did not. I did try a finer sharpie which was ok and the bleed wasn't as noticeable.

Can You Sew Teabag Papers?

When I sewed with a straight stitch, the teabag paper held its own. When I tried a zig-zag stitch, the paper tore in places.

Sewing is a great option when you make pockets out of teabag paper because I found that some glue discolored the teabags.

You could also embroider teabag paper.

Can You Glue Teabag Papers?

I used a PVA glue on the pink journal cover and it turned the pink an ugly deep purply gray. Perhaps consider using double-sided tape instead of glue. Pasta starch water worked really well as a decoupage glue. I used it with the sunflower notebook example.

Is It Malleable?

The teabag paper is a little brittle in places and may crack when you fold it. So fold slowly.

A range of media that did or did not work on the teabag paper

A range of media that did or did not work on the teabag paper

Napkin decoupaged notebook cover

Napkin decoupaged notebook cover

Berry stained teabag paper journal cover

Berry stained teabag paper journal cover

Butterfly shaped booklet

Butterfly shaped booklet

A single-serve coffee pouch. Treat the paper with the pasta starch first before decorating. It will prevent the pen ink from running. This is a pouch and the pasta starch will glue the front and back of the pouch together.

A single-serve coffee pouch. Treat the paper with the pasta starch first before decorating. It will prevent the pen ink from running. This is a pouch and the pasta starch will glue the front and back of the pouch together.

A Simple Hobby

My recommendation is to eat pasta and make paper—simple, Earth-friendly, and delicious.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Celeste Wilson