No, I haven’t gone crazy. I genuinely mean eat tea.
A while ago I was given some tea products by Clean Tea to photograph. I was so excited to use them because the aromas were amazing. Two of the teas also have this really cool ingredient in them called butterfly pea flower, which changes from blue to purple when you add an acid like lemon
While the colour-change really excited me about the teas, it also made me somewhat nervous. When I do a shoot like this, I will often spend the morning cooking dishes, so that I can show off the product in various ways. Before that, I research the brand and its ingredients, and look for unique uses, particularly ones that show the versatility product.
I really wanted to do this unusual natural product justice, so I spent ages trying to come up with the perfect recipes to make the teas shine. The only problem was the more I thought, the more unsure I became of all my ideas. Of course, the longer I left it the more anxious I became about letting Clean Tea down.
Recently though, I mentioned my predicament to a friend and, just like that, my problem was solved. My friend suggested she visit me, and we experiment with the teas together.
What a perfect solution! You see, just as I see food as a shared experience, I see the process of preparing food similarly. I wasn’t so much in a creative funk because of bad ideas, but because I was doing it alone.
Now I had a like mind to bounce off creatively, the ideas came thick and fast. We settled on shortbread, madeleines, and poached pears, with plenty of spare time, because imagination should never be constrained by such things as a clock.
To some it might seem odd that we would choose to showcase tea with baking but, something I’ve learnt from working with incredible foodies and chefs, is that food is art. If you think of the plate as your canvas and the ingredients as the medium, then you take away the limitations of tea as simply a liquid.
This is especially the case when you have such a unique and beautiful product.
The mother-daughter team behind Clean Tea prides themselves on hand-blending over 40 organic, sustainably sourced, vegan, and gluten-free teas. If that, and their incredible taste wasn’t enough, the teas in their range come with amazing health benefits from relaxation and calmness to better digestion.
With all that in mind, I wanted to find ways to display these specialty teas, without going the traditional route. Especially when it came to the Butterfly pea flower’s colour-changing magic in the Byron Blue and Lavender Love blends. I knew we could do more than simply adding water and lemon, and boy was I right.
We started with the Dream Tea. With it’s floral earthy-sweetness and the calming nature of chamomile, lavender, and peppermint, Dream Tea made the perfect addition to shortbread. What better treat with an actual cup of tea than a crumbly bickie reminiscent of a cuppa with granny, right?
We decided to grind the teas to ensure we could get the full flavour without adding extra wet ingredients. This worked perfectly in the shortbread. The addition of the ground tea gave the biscuits a pretty speckled finish and a delightfully earthy smell. They tasted just as magnificent.
While the shortbread was cooking, we popped some pears into a strong brew of the Byron Blue blend, poaching them to the perfect tenderness. Look how pretty they are inside! That’s the butterfly pea flower. The pears were delicious with both vanilla ice cream and rice pudding.
We didn’t waste the poaching liquid either. After the pears finished their spa, we reduced the beautiful blue liquid to a gorgeous sugar syrup. Then it was time for the magic. A squeeze of lemon and, hey presto! The blue syrup became a vibrant purple. And that zingy colour is exactly what it tasted like—lemony, slightly sweet, and delightfully fresh.
With such a pretty purple colour, we had to be sure we matched it with an equally dainty treat. Enter madeleines, spiked with Clean Teas other colour-changing delight, Lavender Love. As the name suggests, this lovely blend pairs the butterfly pea flower with lavender, giving it a soft floral flavour, without the zingy-ness of lemon myrtle.
When they came out of the oven, these little shells were far to pretty not to be crowned with a pop of colour. So, of course, we made a simple royal icing, adding a good dash of the Blue Byron syrup. Have you ever seen a more majestic morsel? All present agreed these would be the perfect party treat for a purple princess.
Remember how I said earlier, you can’t allow time to rule your imagination? Oh, and remember that gorgeous syrup left-over? After a quick taste-test it was very clear it must be bottled. And so it was, because it is the perfect addition to a tall glass of sparkling water…and an even better accompaniment to a gin cocktail. Not only does it taste outrageously good, it looks so freaking elegant, your friends want to know your secret.
Keep Calm, I’ll Shoot
And all this for a couple of photos! This is the behind the scenes of a photo shoot, though. In fact, taking the images is usually the shortest part of the whole photography process. The prepping and planning, the set-up, the post production editing—this is where I spend most of my time.
For most shoots I have wonderful clients who come with their products prepared and ready to pose and snap. For my lifestyle shoots I will do a streamlined version of the Clean Tea process, often setting up a simple dish or two to capture the essence of the product. I take this time because I love making products shine for the client.
And after the shoot is done, I sit in the calm of my studio, drink tea, and edit, knowing I’ve done as much as possible to make you want to lick your screen. Sometimes even I want to lick it.
Tell me about your unique product?
Better yet, book in for a chat and we can have tea…in all forms, and imagine all the glorious and unexpected ways to capture your product’s brilliance.