How to make a tea bag rocket

This is a perfectly safe and *fun* indoor science activity for kids (and the young at heart, like me). smirk The teabag rocket works due to the principles of thermodynamics – you can read up on the science behind how it works if you’re so inclined, but basically it’s a regular tea bag which achieves lift-off and flies off suddenly like a rocket when lit.

It’s a lot of fun and the kids really loved it! I wanted to show this to the little girls and their cousins were there during the weekend too, which makes it all the merrier. I can see that they enjoyed the show. I got them to catch the expired tea bag rocket too, which is surprisingly intact, like a discarded snake skin.

You just need tea bags, a pair of scissors and a lighter!


cut teabag

1. Cut the tea bag at the very top so that the tag/staples are removed

empty teabag

2. Pour out the tea leaves


3. Use your fingers to make the tea bag into a square tower and light the top

teabag rocket

4. The tea bag will burn down to the end and suddenly take off like a rocket

Pro tip: Make sure that you’re indoors, turn off your fan and close any open windows to prevent a draft from blowing the tea bag rocket over.

I’ve wanted to show this to the kids for a long time. It’s a lot of fun if you have young kids. I like to think of interesting things to do which will entertain them and make them laugh – it reminds me of the projects my late mom did with when I was their age, like growing sugar crystals.

It instils curiosity and makes for a fun interlude during the weekend – although my poor dear had to clean up after us coz the tea bag rockets produces a lot of ash! :)

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18 thoughts on “How to make a tea bag rocket

  1. Good morning cute boy.. I watched your videos.. Interesting, I didn’t know about this also leh.. But I don’t think I’ll be experimenting with this:
    1) I have (mild) OCD, the “ashes” will fly over the place, no?
    2) I don’t drink tea (or coffee), so there are no tea bags at home
    But thanks for sharing, I guess it will be fun to do this if there’s a playgroup, you know, to keep the kids quiet even for a while, it helps :)

    • It’s like the thing with Diet Coke and Mentos! :)

      Fun and safe science stuff to do to keep the kids interested in how things work.

      Thanks! Yeah, there will be ashes but it’s *one piece per tea bag rocket* – the ash won’t break up, unless you did what I did and asked the kids to try and catch it. In the first video, I caught it myself so it settled on the metal plate nicely. If you don’t scatter it, there won’t be a lot of cleaning up, but there will be ashes you need to wipe.

      I specially bought this pack of Boh 25 tea bags for about RM 5 and just used it for tea bag rockets. My Pickwick tea bags are too expensive to be wasted like this. Haha! It’s okay if you don’t drink tea, just get a cheap brand for making rockets (but not Lipton coz they don’t work well in tea bag rockets due to the way the top is constructed).

  2. I didnt know a tea bag can launch like a rocket like that! how did that work? is it the material of the teabag? so interesting! But wait… i musnt tell my nieces and nephews, otherwise all the teabags will be gone. Lol…

    • It’s the same process as a hot air balloon! :)

      There’s a convection current of air moving in towards the burning tea bag rocket and rising up as a hot air column…and since hot air rises, once the tea bag becomes lighter, it lifts off like a rocket.

      That’s what I learned anyway. Haha!

      Some tea bags works better, I found out that Lipton ones doesn’t work as well coz of the way it’s designed so I used Boh. The former wouldn’t lift off as one piece of tea bag rocket, while the latter would.

    • Yeah, I also noticed my blog is now mobile friendly! :)

      It’s the theme, I didn’t do anything. I don’t quite like the theme though coz it’s hard to navigate so this is still a work in progress while I find a new theme.

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • Yeah, it works on the exact same principles! :)

      Hot air rises and this is just a hot air convection column that pushes the tea bag up once it’s light enough (after slowly burning mass away).

      Oh, that’s what my mom taught me as a kid, it fascinated me to no end. What you need is a jar of water. Dissolve sugar into it until it’s saturated completely e.g. no more sugar will dissolve anymore, no matter how hard you stir.

      Tie a string and let it drop down into the sugar water and keep it in a dark closet for 2 weeks. You’ll see a crystal forming at the end of the string after 3 days and it keeps growing and growing bigger until you can take it out and eat it (it’s a sugar crystal now). It really lodged into my mind and made me interested in how things work and why.

    • Yeah, it’s quite a fun thing to show kids! :)

      My late mom used to do all these things with me too and I think it made me develop and inquisitive mind.

      No worries! They are good kids, they’ll never play with scissors or matches or lighters or fire without asking first. My dear has raised them very well.

      They won’t even touch chocolates or candy lying around the house unless they ask first, which is how well brought up they are – much better than I was. I would dig for chocolates around the house when I was a kid and ate it if I found any. I would also use the stove when I was just 8 years old when my parents went out jogging and I was left alone at home so I could cook Maggi mee. Haha.

    • You just have to be sincere! :)

      You can’t rely on “tricks” to win the hearts of your loved ones, that’s just wrong. My late mom used to teach me all these things – scientific stuff that’s fun and that made me have an inquisitive mind.

      I’ll like the kids to learn that way too, so that’s why I think of engaging and fun stuff for them to do so they can develop a wonder for how things work and why.

    • Yeah, I thought it was really cool too! :)

      It’s something you can do with things lying about the house (although I just bought a pack of 25 tea bags for RM 5 coz not all brands are good for rockets, depending on the design at the top). It’s also really safe and it gets kids interested in science – at least, I think it would, coz projects and demonstrations like this was what piqued *my own* interest in stuff all those years ago as a young lad.

      The effect is very entertaining and the kids have been asking me about it ever since I told them I’ll show them how a rocket tea bag works so I did it over the weekend.

      Haha! Yeah, people always say I have a funny accent when I speak but I think I can speak Chinese alright – it’s not *too* bad. ;) I’ve been to China and people (mostly) understood me when I spoke to them.

  3. HB, the rocket tea bag not bad but I would not use my good Earl Grey tea bags for it. I know my guys friends go crazy for it. Like Ling would not like to clean the mess made from it.

    • Yeah, I didn’t use my beloved Pickwick tea bags too! :)

      It’s just way too expensive to be wasted like that. They have a great Earl Grey blend called Uplift – one of my favorite Earl Grey blend. However, I’m partial to their Recharge – a classic English Breakfast Tea and Clarity (a 100% peppermint infusion tea which has no caffeine, perfect at night).

      Yeah, there’s bound to be ashes flying around, but it’s fun and it has to be done indoors, won’t work outside coz of wind.

    • Thanks Azura! :)

      I thought it was really interesting too!

      I wanted to show the kids how it worked coz it was so entertaining, they loved the Diet Coke and Mentos trick too! I’m always looking for fun things to do with the kids which is also educational.

      Haha! Yeah, you can try it out yourself first, if your daughter is too young.

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