Tea washing is an innovative method rug makers or merchants use to make their carpet appear older than it is. Among carpet experts that can mean a significant difference in price. Old Asian and Persian carpets can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. By tea-washing a carpet you add a brownish gold patina to it. Some tea washes deepen or remove certain colors.
9/9 Jaipur tea-wash carpet is a type of tea-wash carpet produced in Jaipur, India. The 9/9 signifies 81 stitches per square inch. Jaipur tea-wash carpet is a quality, affordably priced carpet for display or use which has been tea-washed to give it richer colors and a warm, ancient look.
Rug merchant have numerous methods for discerning between a tea-washed rug and a truly old rug. Some say run your hand in all directions over the face of the rug. An older wool rug will feel slightly dry and a little stiff. Some experts can look at the rug's cotton fringe and tell if it has been tea-washed. But tea-washing is an ancient technique many people have mastered, so use caution when buying high-end rugs.
Tea washing saw a resurgence in the 1990s. Importers began to notice a growing demand for antique rugs at reasonable prices. To meet the demand some began to buy and sell tea-washed rugs and carpets. While tea-washed carpets might look good, they quickly fade. The tea-wash may come off if the carpet gets wet or is cleaned. Some rug merchants tea-wash stained or faded carpets to make them look more appealing. So while the Asian rug may indeed be old, what you are seeing is not its true color. However some people may decide to buy a tea-washed rug if the price is low enough.
Some rug merchants who tea-wash their rugs try to pass off the color as dirt due to age. One simple way to tell if a rug is dirty or if it has been tea-washed is to compare the front and the back. If one side is golden brown and the other is grey, it has been tea-washed. Another way to discern between dirt and tea-wash is to take a close look at fibers. The fibers on a rug that has seen decades of wear will lie down. Tea-washed rugs may have the golden patina, but the fibers are generally dry and will not be matted.