Film · Photography

4-Tea-C: My Own Tea B&W Film Developer Recipe

I’ve seen a rising interest on my tea b&w film developer post lately and realized that I never did post my recipe here. It has been a while since I actually developed a roll of film with it, but this recipe worked when I did use it. Your mileage may vary.

Ingredients (to make 500ml):

  • 2 tea bags of each Red Rose orange pekoe, Tetley’s pure green tea, Tetley’s pure peppermint tea, and Tetley’s pomegranate green tea (8 tea bags in total)
  • 2 teaspoons of washing soda (I used ARM & HAMMER® Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster)
  • 1000mg vitamin C (I used “King of Spice” brand Ascorbic Acid from Bulk Barn)
  • water


  • Pour 300ml of water into a saucepan, throw in all the tea bags, bring to boil.
  • Once it boils, turn off the stove and let steep for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer to a measuring cup to see how much tea solution you got. I got 200ml after squeezing every drop from the tea bags.
  • Mix the vitamin C with the tea mixture. (In retrospect, mixing it with the washing soda solution would probably be a better idea since mixing it with the tea mixture creates a lot of froth.)
  • Mix washing soda with water to create 300ml solution or adjust according to the amount of tea solution you got in order to have a total of 500ml.
  • Mix the tea-c and the washing soda solutions together.
  • As for the temperature, I didn’t check but pretty sure it was room temperature, i.e. 20 degrees. (I know. Very scientific indeed. *sarcasm*)


I read somewhere that developing with tea takes longer than with coffee but I wasn’t exactly sure how long I should do the development for, so I decided to do a semi-stand development for 2 hours, just to be safe.

Basically what I did was, I poured the developer into the tank with the film in it, did 10x inversion, put it on the kitchen counter and then went grocery shopping. Got home an hour later, did another 10x inversions, and then another one before I poured the developer out of the tank at the end of the two hours.

Wash, fix with your favourite fixer (don’t skip this!), wash, hang to dry!

Hope that makes sense! Would love to see the results if you decided to try it out.

4 thoughts on “4-Tea-C: My Own Tea B&W Film Developer Recipe

  1. Peppermint tea makes no sense as a developing agent, if we assume there’s no caffeine in it. By the same token decaf tea should be ineffective. In these cases, the only dev agent would be the Vit C.

    Lovy tonal quality in your pic :)

  2. Why talk about caffeine ?

    Caffeine is NOT the developing substance in caffenol. It is caffeic acid, a diphenol with two thydroxyl groups as all common developers have.
    The developing substances in tea are the tannines in green (more) and black (less) tea. It is a polyphenol and thus is kind of a multi diphenole.

    So using green tea alone with 8 bags should even be stronger.

    Will myself do some tests with it soon, the olfactory impact should be much less than with caffenol and I expect less staining of some film that get easily stained by coffee.

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