No Pain, No Stain

Making a wood stain with tea is supposed to be easy. I mean, this self-proclaimed “cake baker, dinner maker, picture taker” succeeded spectacularly.

tea stain steps
As easy as 1, 2, kiss-my-butt.

If the woman behind “Confections of a Foodie Bride” (Gah! So many bad words all in a row.¹) can do this, imagine my humility as I must confess that my first attempt — to darken the wood of my new worktable — was a failure.

The principles are solid and consistently stated on the ever-truthful Interwebs:I mean, wait wait, not a failure. But a solid “meh.” This foolproof organic method of enriching the hues of my oak tabletop was nothing but a tea tease.

  1. Brew you up some super-strong tea.
  2. Soak a superfine piece of steel wool in near-boiling vinegar to make an iron solution that reacts with the tea tannin.
  3. Apply a couple layers of tea, let dry, then apply a couple layers of the metallic wash.
  4. Wait for the awesome.

I’m still waiting.

Where did I go wrong? My guess: There could’ve been a bit of oil in the steel wool. It seems this is a pretty common additive. And I did not wash it in mineral spirits or paint thinner first, which would’ve removed any oil and let the vinegar do it’s chemical shindigging with the wool.

I also laid just a single tea coat on, as I brewed too small of a batch, didn’t have enough for a second coat, and was too impatient to brew some more. You gets what you pays for.

Clearly I didn't use Earl Grey for this tea stain

The table did darken a bit, and it looks pretty good, even if this Lip-tone is not the blackened, Irish pub look I was seeking. I might go another round now on this workbench to try and perfect the method before I salvage some more pallets to build a bar for inside the house. Because that simply has to look groovy.

To be continued…

If you would like an email alert when we publish a new piece, enter your email below. We typically post new articles just once or twice a month.
We’ll never share your email address or spam you, because that would be mean.

¹ Yes, I’m aware of the irony of a “Dew Abides” blogger making fun of the name of someone else’s blog. To this I say: Shut up.

Written By
More from Brad

Book Club: ‘Grapes of Wrath,’ chapters 7-12

Last week, Jenn and I “discussed” the first six chapters of “The...
Read More

Leave a Reply