Is Tea the New Leather? The Hot Fashion Trend of the Future Just Might Save the Planet

We knew tea was good for you, but we had no idea it could do this.

Tea made with kombucha can help heal your stomach issues, stabilize your mood and give you sharpened mental clarity—but what if you could also wear the tea? And save the planet while you're at it?

In a surprising research development, Professor Young-A Lee from the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University has discovered how to make a leather-like material out of the kombucha "mother," a collection of yeast and bacteria collectively known as a SCOBY and used to make the fermented tea. When the Scoby's cellulosic fiber films are dried, they develop a leather-like quality.

It's a promising idea that still needs a bit of work, at least according to Iowa State students. NowThis reported that the students were "weary" (we're guessing they meant "wary") of wearing the tea-derived leather, because it doesn't seem comfortable or durable enough just yet. Some compared it to plastic or rawhide in its current state.

Lee and team are motivated to get it right because it could have a significant impact on the environment.

“If our experimental effort from this EPA project is successful, this cellulose-based renewable fabric can be an alternate future where we move to a cradle-to-cradle system, instead of relying on materials derived from unsustainable sources," Lee told the ISU News Service.

Meanwhile, we'll keep an eye out for those tea leather suits on the runway.


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