Tea lovers know that the traditions behind teaware and tea ceremonies are extremely important. Tea has a rich history, and many popular traditions from years ago are still being practiced by tea drinkers of the world today. One of those traditions is the use of tea pets. These cute tea accessories serve as more than decor on your tea tray. Want to learn more about why tea pets are still popular today? Keep reading to find out more about the history of tea pets and how you can care for a tea pet of your own.
History of Tea Pets
This unique cultural tradition has been practiced for ages. Tea pets are part of tea traditions from the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 AD). They are also sometimes called tea lovers pets. These animal-shaped figures were first molded from extra pieces of clay. Once they were molded, a teapot artisan put the teapot, cups and these “pets” together as a full tea set.
Typically, these creations are made from Yixing clay, much like many teapots. This type of clay is used because it’s known to absorb the essence of teas. The material plays a big role in how owners care for their tea pets.
Owning a tea pet is similar to owning a teapot made from Yixing clay. To feed your tea pet, you simply pour leftover tea over the tea pet. You can also use a soft brush to ensure that the tea covers your tea pet evenly. Pouring brewed tea over your tea pet causes the clay to gradually change its shading. Each time you feed your tea pet, it will become richer in color. The tea pets also develop a gloss and hold a fragrance of your chosen tea. Since tea pets are usually not glazed, this process allows you to add your own finish to your tea pet.
It’s important that you feed the same type of tea to your tea pet each time. This gives you the best result (and we like to imagine it makes your tea pet happy too). You should also rinse your tea pet with pure water between tea sessions. Do not use any kind of soap or sanitizer on your tea pet, because this can damage the material.
Types of tea pets
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.
The meaning behind tea pets
Have we convinced you to adopt a tea pet yet? If so, don’t skip this section. Before you choose, you should know that in Chinese culture, each type of tea pet has a special meaning. These meanings stem from traditional Chinese mythology. Here are what some tea pets symbolize:
Dragon: The dragon represents power and strength.
Pig: The pig represents wealth, honesty and good luck.
Dog: Dogs also symbolize good luck, and indicate that good fortune is on the way. It’s also believed that dogs drive disaster away
Birds: Each bird has a different meaning. Some of the things birds can symbolize are wisdom and happiness.
Any tea pet you choose will add character to your tea tradition. However, if you choose one based on its hidden meaning, you may find that these Chinese legends will come to fruition in your own life. Either way, may tea lovers enjoy tea pets because they add a unique touch to their tea time rituals each day.
To conclude, that should be mostly all of the knowledge you need to adopt your very own tea pet! Maybe there’s a tea pet that you see as your perfect beverage companion, or maybe you’ll decide to collect them all! No matter what you choose, a tea pet is a wonderful addition to any tea collection. Now, we’re curious: your favorite tea tradition? Let us know in the comments below.