Tea is a beverage steeped in thousands of years of history, culture and enjoyment.

Throughout the years, it has been used as used as a form of international currency, traded for drugs to feed an addiction, and infused as a beverage in myriad fashions.

a rockin' tea-shirtHowever, thanks to a little science and a great deal of ingenuity, we can say that this staple of our civilization now has a new application: one where you express your love of tea on your sleeve – literally.

Scientists at Imperial College London along with fashion designers from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design have been working to create a fabric, similar in texture to leather, but more lightweight and far more eco-friendly.

This material, which can be used to make anything from shirts, jackets, dresses to shoes, is made from – you guessed it – tea.  Here’s how they say it is made:

“It is made by combining tea leaves, sugar, water and other nutrients.  Over the course of several days, bacteria are added to the solution, producing long filaments of cellulose that clump together to form thin mats of fabric that float on the top of the mixture.

Once dried, this becomes become see-through and similar in appearance to papyrus. However, it can be treated, dyed and molded to produce different textures and effects.”

One snag they’ve run into, the article states, is that the bacteria tend to cause the “tea-shirts” to be a bit on the stinky side.  Once they can overcome this olfactory obstacle, you’ll be sure to see your friendly neighborhood Tea Sommelier rockin’ the look!