Colorful tea inks

Make your own coloring book out of hibiscus, baking soda, and watercolor paper!

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Warn­ing: only un­der adult su­per­vi­sion.

Equip­ment

  • cup;
  • hi­bis­cus tea;
  • bak­ing soda;
  • wa­ter­col­or pa­per;
  • q-tip.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Make a cup of strong hi­bis­cus tea and pre­pare a sat­u­rat­ed bak­ing soda so­lu­tion. Ap­ply the bak­ing soda so­lu­tion to a sec­tion of wa­ter­col­or pa­per and leave the pa­per to dry overnight. The tea’s col­or will deep­en overnight as well. The next day, dip a q-tip in the tea and start draw­ing on the pre­pared pa­per – part of the draw­ing will re­main red and part of it will turn blue.

Process de­scrip­tion

Hi­bis­cus tea con­tains nat­u­ral dyes called an­tho­cyanins. An­tho­cyanins’ struc­ture and col­or de­pend on whether they are in an acidic or al­ka­line medi­um. Hi­bis­cus tea is acidic, which makes the an­tho­cyanins tint the drink red. Bak­ing soda, on the oth­er hand, cre­ates an al­ka­line en­vi­ron­ment and thus changes the an­tho­cyanins’ struc­ture. As a re­sult, the tea turns blue.

More fun ex­per­i­ments await you in the MEL Chem­istry sub­scrip­tion!