Articles - Tea Leaves
08/13/2017
Dried tea makes for a really good scale dead-fall, i.e. fallen tree leaves. You can just buy tea and use it directly on the layout, but why not enjoy it first!? If you, or a member of your household, enjoy the occasional cup of tea, don't just throw the tea bag away. With a bit of management, you can have some free scenery material. What I do is when I pull the bag out of the hot mug, I place it on a dish. I let that sit overnight, that way the majority of the moisture will have evaporated. Next, I cut the bag open with a pair of scissors, and dump the tea onto the other part of the dish, or onto another dish, if you want to set up a continuous system. Using my fingers or some sort of tool, I try to separate the still-moist tea into as thin of a layer as possible. This will speed up the drying process. It may take a day or two (or more) for the tea to completely dry. I usually mix it around a bit on the dish, and break up any clumbs. When I am convinced it is completely dry, I pour the tea into another container that will hold the mixture. This other container does not have a seal, so that the mixture can continue to air out. Early experiments had me putting it in a seal container, and if there is any bit of moisture still left in the tea, you will start to develop mold.
Tea Leaves
If I know I have a portion of the layout coming up that will need some dead-fall, I will continue this process of airing-out tea bags. When the open container has enough material in it for the upcoming project, I will stop saving the tea bags. From time to time I thoroughly stir and mix the tea in the open container, so that the material at the bottom comes to the top, for continuous airing out of any trapped moisture. Usually after several weeks or a couple of months in this container, I will move the material into a ZipLock bag to store it more permanently, as shown above. The photo below shows some of the tea applied to an area around a tree (the glue is still wet). I simply dabbed some full-strength white glue on the scenery base and the tree roots, and then sprinkled on the tea. Adding additional layers of the tea can be done using the common scenery application method of spraying some water or rubbing alcohol on the area, and then spraying some diluted white glue, followed by the application of the tea, or a mixture of the tea and green turf material. The tea can also be used for simulating leaves on a tree, if the tea is green enough. For dead leaves blown against a building, apply some carefully-positioned white glue, put the tea on a piece of paper that has a crease in it, and gently blow the tea onto the glue, and then let that sit until the glue had dried. White glue dries clear.
Tea Leaves