Tea pets are great companions for drinking your tea with.
Even if you have the most luxurious teapots and gaiwans, you’re set will not be complete without a tea pet!
They are cute and humorous small-sized objects which represent good luck and prosperity. The most popular tea pets are the lion tea pet, pig tea pet, monkey tea pet, elephant tea pet, turtle tea pet, Chinese cabbage, carp tea pet, dragon tea pet, and wise monkeys, to name just a few.
We've created a list of the different types of traditional and the best tea pets including zodiac tea pets, religious tea pets, and humorous tea pets. Some change color, some squirt water, and all are very cute.
Plus, they require less work than an actual pet!
Yes, a pee pee boy. And it’s exactly how it sounds. This humorous and rather naughty tea pet is one of the biggest selling tea pets in China.
It’s the figure of a little boy holding his nether regions. The tea is usually poured on his head and comes out his said nether regions as if he is peeing.
It is similar to a famous statue in Brussels called Manneken Pis or peeing boy. Just like the pee pee boy, the statue is of a little boy having a wee and water comes out. I’m not quite sure what is the fascination with a boy peeing, but it makes a popular tea pet.
Scientists are even fascinated with this tea pet and did a study to explore the thermodynamics of the pee pee boy (1). The study revealed that when hot water is poured over his head, the air inside expands causing pressure to build. After a few seconds, this pressure forces a stream of water out. They found the hotter the water, the more expansion and the farther the stream will go.
That certainly could entertain you for a while, experimenting with different temperatures of water.
Perhaps make a game out of it at your next afternoon tea party.
This particular pee pee boy is a little buddha monk who is closing his eyes. He has a backpack where you pour the tea, and it comes out as pee.
There is a choice of blue or red and it’s made from the typical Yixing clay to match your gongfu tea set.
It measures 4.9 x 3.2 x 2.3 inches and weighs 5.6 ounces. There is a one-dollar difference between the two colors for some reason.
A toad may not seem like a creature you’d want to sit down to tea with (apart from maybe Mr. Toad from The Wind and The Willows). But the three-legged golden toad is popular in Chinese traditional culture.
Since ancient times, the toad has been worshipped by the Chinese (2). It is a totem of longevity and wealth and features throughout their culture.
Aogaeru is a frog spirit in Spirited Away, a popular anime film. He works in the bathhouse and sneaks back in at night to try to find more gold. This might explain why this particular toad has coins on his back and also because toads bring luck to businesses.
Hopefully, this toad tea pet won’t end up like Aogaeru in Spirited Away though, who is swiftly eaten.
The three-legged toad is also a popular tea pet because of the Chinese folklore story of Liu Hai (3).
The pattern on the toad resembles coins (just like this tea pet) and he was thought to be able to spit gold coins out of his mouth. The three-legged toad helps Liu Hai get lots of gold coins, maybe he’ll get you some too.
This lucky golden toad tea pet has a coin in his mouth (unfortunately not real gold, so, not a lot of help to you) but you can still enjoy tea with him!
This toad changes color from a dark color to golden and has gems for his eyes. The gradual color change is satisfying to watch and is enjoyable every single time.
Slowly, tea pets will change color because of the tea and their rough texture that lets them absorb the moisture, so your tea pet will change over time which always makes using them fun.
There is a choice of designs and colors, red jade or green jade. This toad is molded from Yixing purple clay and resin. He measures 4.3 x 3.3 x 2.0 inches.
Everyone should be familiar with the figure of Buddha. Buddhas aren’t just seen as lucky tea pets, but they are carried around as lucky charms and often used as decorations throughout the world.
Buddha is an East and South Asian deity, who is a cheerful monk with a large belly.
Legend states if you rub Buddha’s belly it will bring you luck, wealth, and prosperity (4).
So, not only will this tea pet be a cheerful companion to have tea with, but you can also rub his belly for even more luck.
This happy Maitreya buddha tea pet has his belly showing and his arms outstretched as if he’s about to give you a hug. He has a red robe with little feet sticking out.
This buddha tea pet is made from purple clay which absorbs the tea’s scent over time. It is 3.25 inches and weighs 4.9 ounces.
Best Zodiac Creature
Who doesn’t love a dragon? Ok, maybe not the ones from Game of Thrones. They quite liked eating people and we don’t want that.
Dragons are a feature in many fantasy novels and films. They’re also important in Chinese culture.
A Chinese dragon breaths clouds, not fire. A lot safer than Daenerys dragons (5).
The dragon is one of the twelve zodiac signs and dates back at least 3000BCE. Dragons represent prosperity in business, a good harvest, good fortune, health, and are protective tokens (which makes sense since they’re pretty scary).
This tea pet is a mermaid dragon, a cross between a fish and a dragon. It has the head and claws of a dragon with the body and tail of a fish.
It has a playful face with an open mouth and its tail in the air. There are four different styles to choose from. A dark brown (made of purple clay) with gold markings on its back, horns, claws, and gold at the side of its mouth. There’s one without the gold, one that’s a red color with gold, and a red color without gold.
This tea pet dragon doesn't just look pretty. It’s actually multi-functional! A bowl can be placed in its tail and it’s handmade from purple clay and red mud. It measures 5.3 x 4.1 x 3.9 inches.
Frogs are also seen as good omens in Chinese culture. They are associated with healing and good fortune in business. They also ate insects which helped the ancient farming society, which is why they probably made it into the good books of Chinese culture.
The frog is seen mostly as a sign of prosperity and in Feng Shui, frogs are recognized as a sign of affluence.
With this lucky frog tea pet, you get two frogs for the price of one!
There are two frogs on a stone and they both spray water out of their mouths. Just like the pee pee boy, the hot air expands inside and jets out. The water sprays upwards as if they’re trying to knock the other one off the stone. The hotter the water, the higher the frogs will spit their jets of water.
Made from Yixing Zisha clay, this tea pet measures 2.56 x 1.77 x 1.97 inches.
Cutest Tea Pet
These are probably the cutest tea pets on this list unless you find toads and dragons cute!
This cute pig tea pet set comes with four little pig tea pets - papa and mama pigs, as well as two piglets!
The pig is the 12th sign of the Chinese zodiac, and it represents good luck, fortune and wealth, as well as hard work and honesty.
This set also comes with a pig feeder and three coins for extra good luck!
To make your pig pets happy, simply pour your most expensive oolong tea over them and fill the feeder - they are known to be quite spoiled!
As they are made of purple clay, they will absorb the tea’s aroma over time, making them unique tea companions.
This tea pet measures 4.6 x 1.5 inches - so it’s quite small. It’s also a good value purchase as you get 4 pig tea pets, a feeder, and three coins!
A tea pet is a clay figurine, traditionally made of clay, that accompanies you when you drink tea. The tea or water can be poured over them, which can change their color over time.
If they are made of Yixing Clay, they also absorb the tea’s aroma over time and thus develop their own unique character based on the types of tea your drink.
Tea pets, previously called tea lovers’ pets, were usually figures from Chinese historical or mythical characters, but more recent tea pet designs have included fun and risqué versions.
For more details visit our post explaining in detail what tea pets are.
The original reason for tea pets was to help you see if the water temperature was right to pour your tea.
They were also used to accompany the tea masters during the Gong Fu tea ceremony. In Chinese history were said to symbolize good luck, fortune, and happiness (6).
Tea pets originated from the Yuan dynasty in China between 1206 AD and 1368 AD. They were first created in Yixing, Jiangsu province, China. Traditional models are still made with Yixing clay (the same clay used to make their tea pots).
But hollow ceramic figures dating back to the Tang dynasty between 618 to 906 CE were possibly used as thermometers. This could have been the very beginning of using tea pets.
The reason for pouring water over your tea pet was to check the temperature of the water.
If the tea pet didn’t crack when the hot water was poured over it, then the tea was ready to be poured out.
They are also said to come alive when you pour tea on them and they make a cute companion for you to sit with when you’re drinking your tea. Plus, they may bring you good luck.
Tea pets are made from clay, just like the clay teapots that were used in China.
They are usually made from Yixing or Zisha clay, the region they were first created.
Yixing clay comes in three colors: green clay, red clay, and purple clay.
The clay is unglazed to keep the surface rough, so it will absorb the tea.
Sometimes a mix of clay will be used to produce different colors and densities, but this isn’t usual.
They’re cute. It’s also fun if you're hosting for some tea enthusiasts or even to enjoy by yourself. The ritual of brewing your tea and sharing it with your tea pet is relaxing.
Plus, some blow bubbles, or squirt which makes it fun.
Raising tea pets is a serious business in Chinese tea culture and there are some rules.
Yes, technically anything can be a tea pet, but they should be named specifically as a tea pet. They need to be made of rough clay which helps them absorb the tea.
They’re a great companion when you're drinking tea and they may even bring you good luck. They were originally used to measure temperature.
Tea pets originated in China. In Korea, they also have ceramic tea pets.
Simply rinse your tea pet under water. Do not use soap or any chemicals as this could discolor your pet. The tea pet will also absorb the smell of tea after a while, and you risk losing this by using soap.
Your tea pet will become shinier and the belief is that the shinier your tea pet, the more faithful it will be to its owner.
Tea pets are cute. What other reason do you need to own one? They're the perfect gift for yourself or any other tea lover you know. Why not get several tea pets to add to your collection of tea accessories such as tea infusers, tea cups, and teapots?
Plus you could have a tea party with other tea lovers, including your pets…that is, tea pets!
They make the ritual of making tea more interesting and relaxing, and they might even bring you wealth, health, and prosperity. And who couldn’t use a little of that?
Once you get one, tea time will never be the same without your tea pet.