A Beginner's Guide to Tea Pets
Imagine having a friend for life that you can enjoy tea with. Well, your dreams have come true because such a thing exists! It is called a tea pet.
At first, I thought a tea pet was something like a chia pet. Now I wasn’t that far off, but I wasn’t exactly right either. A tea pet is a tiny figurine that is shaped usually like an animal made of various materials.
The purpose behind it is to give the tea drinker good luck. You’re probably wondering why you need this. Well, we could all use some extra good luck! But more importantly, it is a cute addition to any tea ritual that can really personalize the process. Maybe you are an animal lover and have a particular kind of animal that really speaks to you. Adding a tea pet can make your tea experience uniquely you.
Tea pets date back to centuries ago—and this is long lasting custom has stuck around for a reason! Let’s delve into them to find out why.
Tea pets date back to the Yuan Dynasty, or 13th century China. These are tiny statues made of a clay, Yixing, that was local to the area where they originated. This is usually a red or brown colored clay and the statues are typically left unglazed. There isn’t much literature on tea pets because it is suggested that they were a rather mundane part of life and weren’t worthy of attention. But the fact that the tradition has lasted so long proves that is not the case at all and there is much well-deserved fascination behind it!
Traditionally, a tea pet is placed on a tray during tea time. As you enjoy your tea, you pour a bit over your tea pet. Over time, you will be able to look at your tea pet and see how the color and scent has changed. Your pet can be a reminder of all the wonderful cups of tea you enjoyed.
Tea pets can be in many different forms however they are usually some type of animal. All tea pets are associated with good luck although the different types of animals have varying, specific meanings. Here are a few of the more popular tea pets out there and what they mean.
Pig – the pig is a symbol of good luck and fortune. Pig tea pets are usually shown to be very jolly and plump, both signifying good fortune. Pigs also represent the home. They bring a very cozy and comforting vibe to the tea table, and they’re just so cute.
Dragon – dragons symbolize power and strength. Think of the almighty beast—it is feared, but respected. The dragon tea pet is sure to protect your house and bring you strength to where you need it.
Dog – dogs represent loyalty and honesty. A dog tea pet would be an excellent companion, he is always going to be there for you, smiling up at you with a big grin. Just like a real dog.
Bird – birds represent wisdom and peace. Bird tea pets are going to help open your mind to receive information. They are probably great conversationalists. You know, if they could talk.
Frog – frogs attract wealth and ward off evil. Basically, this little guy is your financial advisor that warns you of bad investments and scams.
How to Use
Once you have procured your perfect pet—I’ve got my eyes on the cute pig tea pet—you are ready to start using it! Proceed with your usual tea ritual and once you’re enjoying your cup, you can fetch your tea pet. I think it would be nice to name your little guy, but this is not necessary.
The point of a tea pet is to slowly pour some of your tea onto your pet. You want to use enough tea to cover the pet completely and evenly, but not so much that you drown your little guy. This is called feeding your tea pet. Ceramic pieces are porous and Yixing clay is particularly good at soaking in the tea. As you continue to feed your tea pet, you’ll see his color and scent change.
You’ll want to feed your pet with the same type of tea so that your pet consistently has the same scent and color. And voila! That’s all there is to it. Much more low maintenance than a real pet—or even a plant.
Tea pets are meant to bring good luck—but that doesn’t have to be its only purpose! Your tea pet is your buddy that is going on your tea journey with you. He is there for to cheer you on, to protect you, to discuss different teas with, to bring you good fortune—he is there for anything! Is it a little odd to be talking to a clay figurine and relying on it for emotional support? Sure it is, but why should that stop you from having some fun!
Embrace this centuries old tradition and put your own fun spin on it. And they’re so cute, how could you not talk to it?