How to Make Green Ink with Grass and Water

How to make green ink with two simple ingredients: grass and water.

I set out to write this blog post before the snow settles on the ground here in Canada. We did experience our first snowflakes of the year last night, so I finally felt “the push” to post this recipe. I first heard about transforming grass into ink when I watched an online Zoom lecture by Marjorie Morgan. Marjorie is a natural ink maker, artist, printmaker and environmentalist. I highly recommend watching this workshop if you are interested in learning more about Natural Inks. Making Ink with Natural Materials Zoom Lecture/Demonstration for Greenfield Community College on 9/23/20!

Making Ink with Natural Materials by Marjorie Morgan

Now let’s talk a bit about what makes grass green. To break it down simply, grass leaves collect energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. The photosynthesizing chlorophyll in the leaf gives grass its green color. The grass ink recipe that I will share with you today creates a vibrant green ink that is such a beautiful and simple way to begin your natural ink journey.

Ingredients and Materials:

fresh grass


a blender (I use a Magic Bullet that I keep for ink-making only)

a funnel and coffee filter or a panty hose sock or a piece of cheesecloth/fabric and an elastic

a glass jar with a lid

a spoon or fork

paper (try different types i.e. watercolour paper and/or natural paper)

brush and/or eye dropper

a rag

pencil/pen and label

clove (optional)


-Grab 2 handfuls of fresh grass.

-Put the grass in your blender and add a little bit of water.

-Turn your blender on and blend until you get a rich green liquid. If the grass is struggling to blend, you may need to stir it up and blend more or add a little bit more water (it will smell like a freshly mowed lawn).

-Cover a glass jar with a filter of your choice: a funnel and coffee filter, a panty hose sock or a piece of cheesecloth/fabric secured with an elastic.

-Pour the ink into the glass jar through the filter.

-Using a paint brush, your fingers or an eye dropper, experiment with your new green ink on paper. You may wish to spray water onto your paper and then add drops of the ink and watch the ink travel into and across the water.

-When you are finished painting with the ink, label the glass jar, put the lid on and refrigerate.

The ink makes a rich dark green (that darkens as it dries) and lasts surprisingly long. Keep out of direct sunlight to prolong the colour on paper. You may wish to add a clove to your jar to help preserve the ink.

DIY Paint using two simple ingredients without leaving home

how to make ink with tea using 2 ingredients in your kitchen

Hi there! As a natural ink maker and abstract artist, I am excited to share a recipe for those looking to dive into the world of natural inks or looking to be creative with simple ingredients and materials without leaving home.

First of all, without journeying too far into the technical differences between paint and ink, I made use of the word “paint” in the title of this post to help reach more people looking to create from home. But for the remainder of this post, I will refer to the “paint” created from tea as INK.

I adapted this recipe from a blog post entitled “Natural Plant Inks” by Jyotsna Pippal, a scientist, an artist and a maker of sustainable and non toxic watercolours. Jyotsna sells her Artisanal Handcrafted Watercolors in her Etsy shop LostinColours.

A few notes about the ingredients:

You may not have distilled water on hand, but you can still experiment with tap water, and then when you find distilled water, you can compare colour outcomes.

You can experiment with different types of tea and their colour outcomes. I used orange pekoe tea for this particular dark brown colour in the photos, but rooibos tea will create a more orange colour.

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve. Gum Arabic is sometimes called acacia gum or acacia powder and it is made from the natural hardened sap of two types of wild Acacia trees. You probably won’t have gum Arabic powder lying around, but if you are a watercolour artist, you may have a bottle of liquid gum Arabic. Either way, you don’t need to have gum Arabic to paint with tea ink and you can just skip that part of the recipe. Also, there is no absolute rule for exactly how much gum Arabic to add to ink. You can test different amounts with test strips to figure out what amount works for you.

If you don’t have 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol, you can also use different purity levels (ie. 60%) or preserve with a clove, or a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil.

Tea Ink Recipe


1 cup distilled water (regular tap water is fine too)

1 tbsp loose tea (or two tea bags)

½ tbsp of baking soda

½ tsp gum Arabic (not necessary)

8-10 drops of 99.9% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (not necessary)


stainless steel or glass (these are nonreactive materials) pot, bowl, 2 jars (make sure that one has a lid), stirring spoon and fork

measuring spoons

coffee filter and small funnel OR panty-hose sock (you can wash and reuse) OR a piece of cheesecloth or fabric and an elastic

dropper (not necessary)


-steep tea in boiling water for about 20 minutes

-strain the tea into a jar using a coffee filter and a small funnel OR to create less waste, stretch a panty hose sock over the jar and strain OR stretch cheesecloth or fabric over the jar and secure with an elastic (strain again if you wish into the second jar)

-stir in the baking soda and boil the tea in your pot for a few minutes

-pour the tea into a jar again and whisk in gum Arabic, a little at a time, with a fork until dissolved (if it is not dissolving, heat the ink again but don’t bring to a boil) *you can skip this step if you don’t have gum Arabic powder on hand*

-when cool, add 8-10 drops of alcohol per 1-ounce bottle of ink , OR add a clove, OR add a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil *if you don’t have these items on hand, just be sure to keep cool in the refrigerator*

-secure the lid on your jar, label the name/date on the jar and refrigerate to help preserve (tea tends to go moldy)

-shake before use


Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve

Alcohol helps to prevent mold

A few final tips:

  • It can be helpful to make ink samples during the slow process of creating inks. I use scrap pieces of watercolour paper, but just use whatever paper that you have available. Be sure to write down the time and other details (I have learned the hard way by thinking that I will remember).
  • This recipe helps you extend the life of the ink with preservation ingredients, but if mold does appear in the tea ink, simply scoop it off.
  • Experiment with the light-fast nature of tea ink by leaving your samples in a sunny windowsill (be sure to label the date).
  • Be sure to label the jar and to keep out of the reach of children or pets.

You may wish to refer to my blog post entitled How to Paint with Natural Inks: Part 1 where I give suggestions as to how to paint with ink. A few tools or supplies that may come in handy are rags, lids or bottle caps, paint brushes, a dropper, a palette knife, a spray bottle of water and even your fingers.

I look forward to viewing your tea ink adventures using my hashtag #natureswildink or send me a photo at