Reuse, Recycle, Shibori

What do you do when you’ve steeped your botanical tea leaves, stirred your tea and sipped on the very last drop? If you are anything like me, you recycle. You simply pop the kettle back on,  resteep your tea leaves and brew yourself another cuppa. Or if you feel like treating yourself to a  face mask, you reuse your Hibiscus petals to create a light mask that exfoliates your skin and brightens your complexion - Hibiscus is, after all, renowned for its skin rejuvenating properties. But if anyone had ever told me that Tea leaves from our purple Mood Indigo Tea would end up being repurposed as a botanical silk dye, I would never have believed them. 

The question of what we do with food waste has become more pertinent as we think about  our impact on the environment around us, and we admit that reusing, recycling and repurposing must become part of our daily narrative. Which is why when I had a pack of Butterfly pea flowers that I was unable to use for my tea making process, I reached out to my friend Asha. Asha and I had previously met following my work on the Channel 4 documentary, The School that tried to end racism. We’d had wonderful conversations on race, culture and heritage and I was fascinated by Asha’s work with fabric and natural dyes from food waste like avocado stones.

So what to do with my Butterfly pea flowers? These Thai flowers are a deep blue colour and they’re known for their rejuvenating properties, so hopefully when I’m 60 I’ll still be looking 21 because of all that Mood Indigo Tea I’ve been drinking. But I digress... The strong blue colour made the flowers a good ingredient for Asha’s work, so off they went in the post. It was such a giddy feeling having back and forth conversations as Asha painstakingly tested the flowers and created a concept for this botanical collaboration. Her idea was to use the natural dye to create silk scarves using the Shibori method. For such a small quantity, the flowers packed a punch as you can see in the pictures. And as the dyed scarves dried, the Butterfly pea flowers metamorphosed from this deep blue colour into an ethereal purple.

The whole process was a reminder of  the transformative power of Nature. And it reflected the beautiful Mood Indigo tea which transforms from a deep blue to a wonderfully majestic purple as it releases the colours and flavours of Hibiscus, Butterfly pea flowers and Coconut. 

Thanks to Asha for documenting the process in these beautiful pictures.