Tea bag folding is a type of origami that uses the paper envelope that tea bags come in. It is also referred to as miniature kaleidoscopic origami. It usually uses squares from tea bag wrappers or patterned paper.
The story goes that in 1992, a Dutch woman, Tiny van der Plas, had been practicing origami. She was sitting at home, drinking a cup of tea, when she suddenly realized she had forgotten a birthday card for her sister. As she was drinking her tea, she started folding the paper envelope her tea had come in. That gave her the idea for folding multiple tea bag envelopes to create a three dimensional rosette.
I have been told that the European tea bag wrappers are much more interesting than the ones we have here in the U.S. Perhaps that is why many people are using patterned paper for tea bag folding rather than actual tea bag wrappers. You also don’t have to drink lots of tea before being able to fold your rosettes.
Tea bag folding usually uses 8 small identical squares of paper folded exactly the same way. These folded papers are then either interlocked or laid side by side to produce a symmetrical medallion. They are used a lot on cards or as ornaments on scrapbook pages or photo albums.
I came across tea bag folding after I started making my paper origami mandalas (see my blog posts Paper Origami Mandalas and Paper Origami Mandalas With Messages). I then asked friends and relatives to save their tea bag wrappers for me. I managed to collect enough wrappers to make 3 of rosettes using actual tea bags that I found interesting enough to share. I also discovered that not all tea bag wrappers made pleasing rosettes .So, in order to show a number of different folds, I have used patterned paper for a few of my rosettes. The patterned paper that is cut into squares is also referred to as a “tile.”
It’s been fun trying out many of these folds. I am not adept at writing origami instructions, instead I am supplying links to where I have found instructions on the web. I have tried some of these folds, but not all. I also cannot guarantee that these links will work in the future. If you find a link that does not work, please leave a comment to that effect and I will attempt to find another link to replace it.
There seems to be a cross over with the paper origami mandalas I have been making and the rosettes and other designs of tea bag folding. Some people use tea bag folding to include both types of folding.
The easiest tea bag fold is the kite fold.
Kite Fold Instructions
This is the fold I used for my Stash tea bag wrappers.
Waterbomb Fold Instructions
This is a link to instructions for
Tea Bag Folding: Rosette
A more complicated kite fold with instructions on YouTube.
Kite Fold by Craft Maniacs
A different tea bag fold with instructions on YouTube
Tea Bag Folding by Origami Twist
Tea bag folding flowers from a blogger in Singapore, Sandy Ang.
Tea Bag Folding Flowers
A tea bag seven pointed star that uses 7 squares (you can click on variations)
Seven Pointed Star
And this is the YouTube video that sparked my interest in making my origami mandalas. I made this and then started making more complex mandalas.
DIY Easy Origami Corner Bookmark
These are the instructions I used to make my Paper Origami Mandalas.
Paper Origami Mandalas
This is on my list to try next.
And I’ll be trying this star too.
NOTE: I have not tried to make all designs in the above links. I have looked carefully at all the instructions and watched all the videos. If you have any trouble with them, please let me know. And if there are any links that stop working, please leave a comment and I will take update the links.
If you drink a lot of tea, especially tea that comes in fancy wrappers, and are willing to share at least 8 of the wrappers with me, I’d be ever so grateful. I might even send you something in return. If you are interested, leave a comment below and I’ll be in touch.
Happy Folding, Candy