Toning with tea : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi All, For quite a long time, I was looking for a brown toner that could provide the same tone as very olds albumen prints, unsuccessfully! Yesterday, I tried Tea...and it works great! The border is toned too, so the print looks like an old one (FB paper, of course). Aesthetic is great, but what's about longevity? does the tea attack the image? anybody has an experience? any feedback would be great!! Regards

-- Daniel Luu Van Lang (, May 31, 2002


Hi Daniel

I did tea tonings 15 years ago and they still look okay. Tea is quite an old trick so it should be okay!

Good light!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, May 31, 2002.

It should be pretty stable. I have done it, too, as long as twenty years ago, and the color is still there. Just think about how hard it is to remove tea stains from fabrics.... Tea actually is not a toner in the sense that it alters the color of the image-forming silver, like a sulfide toner does, but it is adiscoloration of the base (paper and gelatin coating). The black silver image is unaffected.

-- Arne Croell (, May 31, 2002.

I do not have experiance using it like the other two posters, but according to professors that I had at the art institute of boston, they all said that it is not archival. But hey, who cares. Print it again in 25 years if it starts to look a little gloomy.

-- joe freeman (, May 31, 2002.

Sally Mann tones with tea. Coffee works, too, as I discovered when my brother spilled an extra-large cup of it all over a table where I had 30 of my 8x10 prints spread out. He managed to hit every print!

I've tried tea a few times. The best kind to use are the cheap, garden-variety black teas, as they have the most tannin.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, May 31, 2002.

At a workshop a few years ago Jay Dusard demonstrated tea toning using simple bags of instant tea (he joked that Tetley was the photographer's tea de jour!). Anyways, the process worked quite well. An added feature is that tea, unlike some toners, possesses few toxic and environmentally harmful ingredients. Try drinking Selenium toner sometime.

Asked whether or ot the process was archival Dusard or his co-teacher Michael Schultz pointed to oriental papers toned with tea that had lasted a few thousand years.

Seriously, the process is well worth an afternoon's experiment. Bob

-- Bob moulton (, May 31, 2002.

Thank you for your contribution, as usual, this forum is very helpful for any concern one may have! Regards.

-- Daniel Luu Van Lang (, May 31, 2002.

Is Black tea something that is marked on the package? Or is just marked tea? Is instant coffee going to work? or are we talking about percolating?

-- Jonathan Brewer (, May 31, 2002.

FWIW, I've had spilled coffee take the little blue lines right off ordinary binder paper. It was pretty bad coffee though!

-- John Kasaian (, May 31, 2002.


I don't think it usually says black tea. Any cheapo regular tea is good - Tetley, Master Choice, Milford, Lipton. It doesn't work on RC paper. Couldn't tell ya about the coffee. Get in there and experiment!


-- Sandy Sorlien (, May 31, 2002.

Try also some green tea , good one . fresly brewed, and tone your paper with it! Also try different dilutions , mix it with coffe, experiment, have fun , and remember that tea usually lowers the conrtrast of the image, so print accordingly. It is a great medium...

-- domenico (, May 31, 2002.

I will try this......Domenico did you get my j-peg safe and sound, if so, e-mail me.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, May 31, 2002.

Tom Baril, photographer and master printer, formerly Mapplethorp's printer, tones his prints with tea. They are beautiful!

-- John Elder (, June 01, 2002.

This is not the only photographic use for tea. I have developed both paper and film with green tea used with a suitable base. For the film it was a very slow speed developer, say 30 mins and a 2-3 stop loss in speed, however this demonstrated that it was a true developer and not just activating a built in developer in the film. All the best

-- Laurence Cuffe (, June 05, 2002.

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