Published on August 31st, 2010 | by Becky Striepe


Fab Fabrics: BioCouture Made from Sweet Tea

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

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

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