Developing B&W film with Tea

UPDATE: I post­ed my very own tea devel­op­er recipe here!

After search­ing the web for infor­ma­tion on tea-based film devel­op­er and not find­ing much, except for this rather inspir­ing forum thread, I decid­ed to just bite the bul­let and make my own tea devel­op­er based on what lit­tle infor­ma­tion I had. I didn’t have black tea but I did have some orange pekoe, green, pep­per­mint, and pome­gran­ate green teas in my kitchen cup­board so I thought, what the heck, let’s get some water in a saucepan, throw some tea bags into it, boil it, mix it with vit­a­min C and wash­ing soda, and see what hap­pens!

While the teas were steep­ing, I shot a roll of Fuji Acros 100 around the house with my long-aban­doned Chi­nese medi­um for­mat SLR cam­era, the Great Wall DF. If the tea devel­op­er didn’t work, I wouldn’t be too sad because I can always re-shoot the same things all over again some oth­er time if I want to.

While I was busy prepar­ing the film for devel­op­ing, Troy got home from work and insist­ed on going gro­cery shop­ping. I didn’t real­ly want to wait until we got back home to devel­op the film. Orig­i­nal­ly, I thought I’d do a 30 or 45-minute devel­op­ment, agi­tat­ing every 3 or 5 min­utes, but since we had to go, I decid­ed to do a 2-hour semi-stand devel­op­ment. I end­ed up agi­tat­ing only 3 times in total. Then I washed and fixed as nor­mal and washed again. And then, the moment of truth: did it work? It did! Yaaay!

I did notice the white spots on the neg­a­tives when I was hang­ing it to dry but didn’t think much about it until I start­ed scan­ning and saw the many dark spots on the scans. It was kind of dis­heart­en­ing at first but then it grew on me. The dark spots actu­al­ly give a vin­tagey feel to the shots which I find rather endear­ing. I hope that I’ll be able to repli­cate the effect the next time I decide to devel­op with tea again, which is going to be soon. I real­ly can’t wait to exper­i­ment again with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of tea!

If you’re inter­est­ed, there’s a cou­ple more pic­tures from the roll devel­oped in tea (oth­er than the one at the begin­ning of this post) in this Flickr set.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’m all about the vin­tagey.

    also, lov­ing the Great Wall cam­era — is that also a thrift shop buy? (I’m try­ing very hard not to suc­cumb to cam­era-envy, or I’ll blow all my mon­ey on cam­eras, and not fillum…and I’m look­ing for­ward to using good film soon — any rec­om­men­da­tions for 35mm B&W — obvi­ous­ly to be devel­oped in tea/coffee!)

  2. I got the Great Wall from the Bay of E, shipped all the way from Chi­na. It’s a quirky but sur­pris­ing­ly decent cam­era for a frac­tion of the price of a Has­sel­blad. At least it was when I bought it. I don’t know how pricey it’s got these days.

    As for film rec­om­men­da­tions, I’m not picky. I just shoot what­ev­er I can get my hand on for cheap. But I do like Kodak TMax and Fuji Acros. They’re pret­ty for­giv­ing film. A lot of peo­ple swear by Kodak Tri-X. I still have yet to try them. I have a cou­ple rolls of Kodak Plus-X in my film lot. Will let you know if I like those once I used them.

  3. Hi! that’s fan­tas­tic!! I’m a tea (and cof­fee) lover. Tea is by no means miss­ing my pantry.
    I must say that the pic above superb. What con­cen­tra­tion of tea you’re using?? If tea bags, how many? And water„„ 1 liter? half?

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