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What is a Tea Pet and What is Tea Pet Used For?

Apr 03,2024 | TeaTsy Team

A tea pet is a small clay or ceramic sculpture used in the Chinese tea ceremony, which is both decorative and a symbol of good luck. Tea pets are placed on the tea tray during the Gong Fu Cha ceremony, not only for decorative purposes but also to test the temperature of the water before making the tea. This article explores the history of tea pets, their uses, and what makes them indispensable companions for tea lovers.

History of Tea Pets

There are many dimensions to the historical context of tea pets. Some historical angles suggest that the tea pet was invented in the Yuan Dynasty of about 1206-1368 AD. 

tea pet

This evidence was corroborated by Yixing clay being the first ever moisture-absorbed one. So it's correct to assume that earlier tea pets were made from such clay materials and, in most cases, made from the remnant of teaware. 

Another historical angle emanated from some historians who suggested that the basis of using Yixing clay as a stand was very weak evidence. This led us to the school of thought that the earlier tea pet was first discovered and produced massively during the Ming Dynasty around 1368-1644. 

The Ming dynasty period was marked by so many crude elements of production and updated assumptions. So, a more established and dated version of the history was that of the Qing Dynasty period around 1644-1912AD. 

Tea pets became a local and international sensation during this period, and all walks of humans see the reason for its usage and adoption into their tea ritual. 

The essence of tea pets has become more profound among people who have seen it transcend from mere decorative items to a symbolic item. For instance, a pig-shaped tea pet represents wealth and good fortune, while a dragon-shaped one symbolizes strength and power. 

These symbolic meanings have changed the overview of tea from a porous and unglazed not-so-good-looking item to a modern piece that is a testament to the unending love between humans and tea. 

What is Tea Pet Used For? 

Tea pet purposes extend beyond just a mere decorative figure. It plays a multifaceted role in our tea ritual, so many people have placed it as a key companion. The following are the common uses of tea pets. 

Improved Tea Experience 

Indeed, tea pets can enhance the tea-drinking experience by adding a sense of companionship and ritual. Sipping tea alone can be a time of reflection and enjoyment, and teapots on a tea tray bring a sense of companionship that enriches the experience. 

Tea pets are symbolic and aesthetically pleasing, creating a more engaging and immersive atmosphere. When you pour them tea, they not only test the temperature of the water but also become active participants in the ritual. This interaction with the tea pets turns the act of drinking tea into a more dynamic and fulfilling ritual, deepening the connection between the tea leaves, the tea drinker, and the ancient traditions surrounding tea culture.

A Symbol of Goodluck and Fortune

Tea pets became an element of symbolism when people started making them in the shape of animals. Each shape has a special meaning which has become a big deal among tea lovers. 

Some people have attached an element of good luck to tea pets. For instance, a three-legged frog-shaped tea pet represents wealth and good fortune, while a dragon-shaped tea pet means power and affluence. There are other tea pets in different animal shapes with their literal significance and meanings surrounding them. 

Adds Touch of Beauty to Your Tea Space 

Tea pets are decorative items with symbolic functions. Most people purchase tea pets to beautify their tea spaces or homes. This is a valid reason for getting a tea pet if we look at the enjoyment people derive from merely looking at the graciousness and ingenuity of tea pets. 

Adds Ambience

This applies primarily to people who use tea as a spiritual guide to their inner self. The simple act of appreciating the presence of tea pets around you often adds a layer of clarity to your thought process. Tea pet has a multi-dimensional depth of meaning and purpose that can be used as a perfect companion during your soul-searching adventure. 

Conversation Starter and Bonding Tool 

The historical context of tea pets, together with unique shapes and symbolism, has made them a perfect center of discussion. This can be a helpful tool to spice up your Chinese tea ceremony, especially if you invite a foreigner who might be fascinated by the tiny little figurine. 

You can use that avenue to narrate the folklore, tea culture, and even the symbolic aspects of the tea pets. Opening up the chance to get along and enjoy the tea ceremony with a shared appreciation and a sense of community. 

tea pets

How You Can Take Care of Your Tea Pets

Getting ready to own a tea pet is less crucial than understanding that you can care for it. The little whimsical clay figurine requires utmost dedication and attention to care for. 

Since the day you adopt a young pet as your tea ritual companion, you should ensure it thrives alongside your tea journey. The following is a comprehensive guide to taking care of a tea pet. 

The First Seasoning 

You can not start using your tea pet immediately after purchasing it. A seasoning process is required to eliminate clays and other debris that might stop the seamless absorption of your tea pour. 

Start this process by soaking the tea pet in cold or slightly warm water for about 15 minutes. Proceed to steep one teaspoon of black tea in hot water and let it cool. 

Then, immerse the cleaned tea pet inside the black tea for 12 hours or overnight. Remove the tea pet from the black tea and let it dry under an average temperature. 

Daily Care Routine 

You should imbibe the act of pouring some tea on the tea pet. This is an excellent idea to ensure you carry the tea pet along your tea adventure and, most importantly, develop its patina. 

So after every tea ritual, wash the tea pet with only water and let it dry completely before storage. Use a soft bristle brush to remove any residue that might have built up on the surface of your tea pet. 


Ensure you store your tea pet in a dry place directly from sunlight. Storing them in an airtight space or container is not advisable because of mold development. 

Where You Can Get a Tea Pet and Other Accessories 

Teatsy has many high-quality tea sets and other tea accessories to take your tea adventure to the next level. As a brand prized for our one-of-a-kind value proposition, we are focused on ensuring all customers are satisfied. 

You are free to explore our carefully selected product categories for your tea drinking journey. We have an excellent catalogue and offer fast worldwide delivery.

In addition, we offer a return policy, so if you want to start returning goods, you can contact us. And return details can be found here.

tea set

Final Thought: What is a Tea Pet? 

The multifaceted purpose of tea pets has placed it among the core elements of your tea ritual. Traditionally, tea pets are classified as decorative figurines that are they're to adorn your tea space. 

However, times have changed, and multitudes of significance have been added to tea pets, ranging from a symbol of good luck to a tool for enhancing your experience. 

So, whether you are an abode yea enthusiast or just getting started with your tea journey, a tea pet is an able companion that can add a touch of tradition and whims to your teacup.