We decided on tea pets as our mascots for East Forged - Mico, Saka and Notsu. What are tea pets, you ask? In the world of small tea pot brewing, they sit on the tea table and keep you company. There are many different types with the money frog (coins in the mouth) most favoured for good luck. During the sharing of tea, excess tea is poured over the tea pet so no tea is ever wasted. They are fun, conversation starters and part of the tea experience. Why did we choose a monkey, cat and pig? In the Asian Zodiac; Kym is a monkey, her first teapet was a cat (also, Tania is a tiger) and finally we both have pig children.
Crossing the ocean, we chat with Nicole Wilson who has been writing about her love of the leaf since 2008. Her work has been featured on World Tea News, The Daily Tea, Tea Journey, and other publications. She is the winner of the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog.
EF: We know from following your blog, Tea for Me Please, that you have always held a special place for tea pets in your personal tea ritual. For those new to tea and curious to learn about the wonderful tea culture that exists around the world, would you mind sharing a brief history of tea pets from your own research?
NICOLE: Historical records of tea pets are scarce, so no one really knows exactly when tea pets were first invented. The general theory is that teapot artisans started making them with scraps of clay. That most likely happened around the Ming Dynasty since that is when Yixing teapots started to become popular.
EF: We would love to know about your very first tea pet. What is their name and what type of personality do they have?
NICOLE: My first tea pet is Ribbit, a tiny frog sitting on a snail shell. I think his personality is a bit of a prankster. He squirts water out of his mouth when you pour tea on him!
EF: Who is ('tea pet') on your tea table at the moment? And would you mind sharing how you use tea pets in your own tea ritual?
NICOLE: My newest tea pet, a pug that my Instagram followers have named Bubble Butt. He blows bubbles from his bottom when you pour tea on him. There is a tea pet on my table anytime that I am brewing gongfu. Part of that is because it's a fun part of the ritual. I'm also usually drinking by myself so sharing tea with them helps me get further into the session without consuming too much tea.
EF: I had read that you selected leaf tea to gift to your guests on your wedding day (we call them wedding favours / Bomboniere in Australia). We would love to know what you chose to share with your closest friends and family on the day?
NICOLE: I chose a lovely Yue Guang Bai (Moonlight White). It took a while to find the perfect tea because I wanted one that would age well while also being beginner-friendly. My friends and family are not as into tea as I am, but they all really enjoyed it. I still have about 1 kg of the tea left for my husband and me to enjoy on our anniversary in the future.
EF: We have 3 tea pets over here at East Forged HQ. If you could invite one over as a guest on your tea table which of East Forged crew would you ask (Mico🐵 Stay Wondrous | Notsu🐷 Live Connected | Saka😼 Forge an independent life)?
NICOLE: I think I would invite Mico🐵 over for tea. There is always something new to learn about tea, so I try my best to stay wondrous.