Chinese tea is a multi-faceted experience and rewards the loyal. Previously I blogged about nurturing a Zisha pot. For many tea lovers in China especially, nurturing a tea pet is also part of the territory.
A tea pet is simply a figurine that is made from Zisha clay (or replicas). During each brew, the brewer would ‘wash’ their tea leaves before brewing for consumption. That ‘brew’ (strictly speaking, that is not considered a brew) is poured out on the ‘tea pet’.
Much like a Zisha pot, over time when more tea is poured on the pet, it absorbs the tea oils and gains luster, literally. A well-nurtured pet would be shiny and earn some bragging rights for the owner.
Unlike the Zisha pot though, your tea pet is not particular about what tea you ‘feed’ it since you don’t care about the smell it retains and you are certainly not going to brew anything with it.
I bought this not because I was particularly enamored with it but because most designs screamed ‘idolatry’ with the Laughing Buddha and a frog with a coin in its mouth among the most popular designs.
Frogs are popular because their name in Chinese ‘wa’ ‘蛙’ sounds like ‘fa’ or strike as in strike it rich ‘发’, especially with the Fujian accent. Add the gold coin and you can see what the owner is aiming at.
My pet is just over a week old, let’s see how it shines later.