How to make a treasure map with tea

Create realistic-looking treasure maps for a pirate-themed birthday party event or treasure hunt. Use actual landmarks around your home, and hide a treasure of sweets or small toys for the kids to find using the map. Children can also make these maps as either an educational exercise on pirates or map-making or to stage their own treasure hunts with friends. Making new paper look aged and worn gives it an air of authenticity that is exciting for children.

Tear off the edges from a sheet of plain white paper. Make them as ragged as possible so they look well-worn and weathered.

Draw your map on the paper. First draw any landmarks such as trees or buildings and give them pirate-themed names on the map, such as the "old spooky tree" or "thieves' hideout."

Mark the map with the path to the treasure, then draw an X where you are hiding the treasure. Write down any clues such as "walk 10 paces from the tree" on the map by the corresponding path.

Crumple the paper up into a tight ball then smooth it out flat again. This leaves creases behind that add to the aged look once it is stained.

Lay the paper on a shallow pan. Pour cold tea into the pan until the paper is covered. Push the edges of the paper down if it floats so it stays submerged.

Pour the tea out of the pan after five minutes. Carefully lift up the paper to avoid tearing it and lay it down on top a stack of three paper towels to dry. Alternately, dry it with a blow-dryer set on low.


Use coffee instead of tea to stain the paper. You can also blot the paper with used tea bags so the weathered look is more varied.

Draw the treasure map with lemon juice after tea staining the paper. The lemon juice is invisible until the paper is held over a hot light bulb or candle flame.


Use ink pens or waterproof permanent markers to draw the map. If using washable markers, draw the map after the paper is tea-stained and already dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Pan
  • Cold tea
  • Paper towels
  • Blow dryer
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About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.