You can use herbal teas and even coffee to dye Easter eggs naturally and create beautiful pastel shades. The dyes are easy to make, as they require no peeling or chopping like other natural dyes. When you dye Easter eggs with tea you should start at least a day before needing the eggs, since it takes a while for some of these dyes to work.
Boil your eggs.
Put the eggs in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water, then heat them up slowly to boiling. If you heat them too fast, the shells will crack and the eggs may explode out of the shell. When the water is at a full rolling boil, you can turn off the heat and cover the pan for about 10 minutes to let them cook. Drain the eggs.
Prepare your dye mixture.
There is a vast selection of herbal teas available. I used hibiscus tea, chamomile, red bush rooibos, blueberry, black tea and green tea. I tried to find teas that were as pure as possible, and not blended with a bunch of spices or other herbs. Some of my teas were loose leaf and some were tea bags. I added a teaspoon of white vinegar to the tea. I also colored a few eggs with coffee.
Immerse your eggs in the dye.
I put the tea in a bowl large enough to accomodate 2 or 3 eggs, and poured boiling water over it. Don’t use metal containers as it can react with the dye. Try to use glass or plastic. If you are only dyeing single eggs, yogurt containers are great. I put a couple eggs in each bowl of tea, and left them there overnight. For the first few hours, I turned the eggs occasionally to make sure they were getting dyed evenly.
Some of the teas didn’t seem to be coloring the eggs at all, even after several hours, so I decided to add alum to these ones. Alum is an aluminum sulphate product used for pickling. You can buy it in the spice section of your grocery store. It makes dyes set up dark and very quickly.
After you remove the eggs from the dyes and they are dried, you can rub them very lightly with vegetable oil to make them shiny.
Types of Dye
Using Coffee to Dye Eggs
For the coffee eggs, I brewed a very strong batch of coffee, poured it in two containers and added a spoonful of alum to one of them. When you add alum to the coffee, it produces much darker and mottled eggs. The plain coffee makes a smooth cafe au lait colored egg. I left the eggs in the coffee overnight as well. You can see the results below.
Chamomile, Red Rooibos and Black Tea
The chamomile tea produced a very light yellow, almost beige colored egg, pictured below on the left.
The red bush rooibos tea made coppery colored eggs, shown in the middle picture above. The black tea dye, on the egg at the right above, was a loose leaf Prince of Wales tea which made creamy brown eggs very similar in color to the plain coffee eggs.
The blueberry tea was not coloring the eggs at all, until I added alum to the dye. Then the eggs turned a very dark blue. One of them really stands out in the photo at the top of the page.
For the green tea I used a loose leaf tea which has a very strong, bitter taste. I was disappointed to see that after several hours there was no color on the eggs, so I added alum to this dye as well. The result was mustard-yellow colored eggs, with a mottled texture. You can see two of these eggs in the top photo.
I’ve found it’s very difficult to get red or pink colored eggs. Most of the dyes that look pink will actually turn the egg blue. The hibiscus tea, even though it is a gorgeous red color, makes blue eggs, which are pictured below.
When you take the eggs from the dye, some of them will be covered with a dark residue. You can let this dry on the egg and then rub it gently for a darker, mottled look, or you can rub it harder and usually are left with a lighter, smooth version of the same color. You can see this difference in the pictures above, of two eggs both dyed with hibiscus tea.
There are hundreds of possible variations that you could use to experiment with tea dyes. Does boiling the eggs right in the tea make them darker? What about combinations of tea, and tea with spices? What is your favorite natural egg dye?
You might also be interested in Colorful Easter Eggs Made with Natural Dyes.
Have a Happy Easter!