Tea pets are a new type of pet that are made out of tea.
What are they made of?
All manner of substances can be made into tea pets, from a simple garden rock with googly eyes to the most rare and precious of clays.
Many tea pets will be made of yixing clay (these unglazed pets range from pale red to deep dark brown, nearly black in hue), but porcelain is equally common, and even metal tea pets aren't unheard-of! Unglazed pets will be more absorbent and take longer to dry, but will also generally be designed to do a fun trick, such as pee across a room or blow bubbles.
The glazed ones are typically designed simply to be cheerful, though some do have the temperature-reactive color changing paint, which is very exciting!
If you’ve never heard of tea pets I should explain.
Tea pets are simply little bits of clay sculpted into forms. Most often the shape of animals popular in Chinese culture.
Wikipedia says that tea pets have been a part of Chinese tea drinking culture since the Yuan Dynasty (13th century).
That’s certainly possible, but it is hard to find information on the history. Wikipedia suggests that there is little mention of tea pets in recorded history because they are an insignificant detail.
There is a Chinese idiom that may describe this mindset: ”trifling destroys the will” ( 玩物丧志 wán wù sàng zhì ).
I don’t find tea pets to be a trifling matter or insignificant. I think they’re a fun addition to your tea rituals.
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!
Tea pets are special figurines designed to keep you company on your gongfu tea table.
You might also see them referred to as tea mascots or companions. Animals of all shapes and sizes are the most common motif but there are many different designs that can be found.
Related: Tea Pets: Exploring the Meaning and Care in Chinese Tea Culture
Tea pets are a new type of pet that can be made out of any type of tea.
A tea pet can be an animal, person, or object. One other thing they are unique. Individuals pick tea pets that are a reflection of their own personalities.
Tea pets were first made from excess or leftover clay from the creation of a teapot and cup. Today you can find tea pets made of other materials like porcelain or china.
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.
Many tea pets are made from clay or ceramic so that they can be fragile.
As long as they are handled with care, your new friend should be around for many years.
They do not have to be dedicated to a particular tea type because you aren’t drinking from them.
Related: what are tea pets used for?
That being said, I have a pig who I swear only blows bubbles when he gets sheng puerh. I tend to use lighter-colored tea pets with darker teas because the visual effects develop more quickly.
Tea pets you’ll find today are similar to the ones of ancient times.
They are often modeled to portray famous Chinese characters, zodiac signs or legendary animals.
Some tea pets also have special features or different effects that will appear as the water runs over them.
Currently, the most popular tea pets feature an ability that allows you to judge when the water is hot enough to make tea. If your tea pet features a small hole, it’s likely that it also has this feature.
Make sure you do your research to understand when the water is the perfect tea temperature.