Fabrics

Published on August 31st, 2010 | by Becky Striepe

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Fab Fabrics: BioCouture Made from Sweet Tea

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green tea

We’ve talked about banana cloth and spider silk, and this week we’ve got another unusual fabric for you: fiber grown from sugary green tea!


Designer Suzanne Lee has come up with a way to grow her own fabric by feeding bacteria with a sugary green tea solution. The base sounds a lot like the tea you’d make to brew a batch of kombucha: sugar to feed the bacteria and caffeinated tea as a catalyst.

Using “less tea and sugar than a family might consume at home in two weeks,” Lee grew enough fabric to create an entire dress!

Not only is BioCouture innovative, it absorbs dye readily, meaning it takes less dye to color the fabric. As we’ve discussed here before, fabric dyes are not always environmentally sound, so this property could make a big impact!

The fabric does have some problems with water resistance right now. And by “some problems” I mean you can’t get the stuff wet. According to a report from New Scientist, the fabric is very absorbent, so it would first swell when in contact with water. Then, it would dissolve into a sugary liquid.

Scientists are working now on how to augment Lee’s recipe to make a water resistant version of BioCouture. You can learn more about this cutting edge new fabric and read an interview with the designer over at New Scientist.

[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mahiskali]

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About the Author

Hi there! I'm Becky Striepe, a green crafter and vegan foodie living in Atlanta, Georgia with my husband and two cats. My mission is to make eco-friendly crafts and vegan food accessible to anyone who wants to give them a go. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



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