10 Traditional Tea Pets and Their Meanings

10 traditional tea pets and their meanings
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The other common name of tea pets is tea play. A tea pet is a ceramic figurine, mainly made of Zisha (Yixing purple clay). People nourish the pet by tea. In Chinese culture, the pet means auspicious, wealth, fortune, and people use it to beautify and decorate their tea tables. Lovers of Chinese tea believe that a meaningful and fun tea pet adds fun to their tea sessions and brings in fortune and luck. Pouring some tea on the tea pet nourishes it and washes away the hustles and bustles of the world. The process of raising tea pets is another method of self-cultivation.

Whenever someone drinks tea, he starts by dipping some of the tea for pet painting or drips some of the leftover tea on the pet. Over time, the pet becomes warm, pleasant and one emitting good fragrance of tea. Tea pets are fired ceramic clay or purple sandy crafts but the purple sand tea pets have the best texture. More nourished pets are associated with more spirituality. 

Tea pets are made into various shapes, such as dogs, hedgehogs, Buddha and frogs, so you will have to choose one according to your preferences. Here is a list of the top choices and their meanings.

1. Maitreya Buddha Tea Pet (Mile Fo)

Mile Fo or the Maitreya Buddha is the Buddha of the Future, who brings happiness and a better tomorrow to the people. The big Belly of Maitreya Buddha accommodates everything the ordinary individuals find it hard to tolerate. The constant smile on Maitreya Buddha’s face makes every trouble go away. The tea pets are usually in a lying or sitting posture so that tea lovers can feel chill when looking at them. Go for a size that matches your tea tray so that the two will complement each other. Ensure that the smiling face is greeting your guests to spread good vibes. 

2. Elephant Tea Pet

Elephant tea pet is the other popular figure among Chinese tea lovers. In their traditional culture, the Chinese see the elephant as a peaceful, gentle, intelligent and strong animal. The pronunciation of elephant in Chinese is the same as the pronunciation of the word auspiciousness, something that makes the Chinese see it as an auspicious sign. The Fengshui believe that water is a property of fortune and with the long trunk, that absorbs water, the elephant symbolizes wealth. 

Individuals who believe in Fenghui put the elephant in a prosperous place in their house so that the whole family can benefit. Fundamentally, place it in a bright place and surround it with green plants. So, if you are planning to place it on your tea table, you should also put a few green plants near it. 

3. Qilin (Lion Dragon Tea Pet)

The Lion Dragon Tea Pet, known as Qilin, symbolizes good luck and kindness. According to Chinese legend, the lion dragon only appears in the peaceful times so it symbolizes longevity and peace. The Qilin looks like it had a head of the Chinese dragon, but its body is a combination of a horse, ox or lion with a horn on its head. Due to the unique image, the Chinese use it when referring to the noble and outstanding people. 

4. Three-Legged Golden Toad

Known as the Golden Toad, the three-legged toad tea pet is a homonym for Jin Qian (money) in Chinese. The three-legged golden toad loves eating coin. A story of Liu Hai – one of the Chinese Folklore gods of wealth – used a cord made of gold coins to save the golden toad from a well and he became important because of the good deed. You might think that people buy the toads for decorations alone but that is not the case. People believe that the golden toads attract wealth and ward off evil. Chinese tea lovers can turn the coin held in the golden toad’s mouth, symbolizing to make money. But when it does not have a coin in the mouth the figure symbolizes wealth. 

If your three-legged golden toad has a coin in its mouth, you should place it in a way that it will face you when drinking the tea. Its head should not face towards the door directly – the door-god might get offended. If the toad has no coin in its mouth, let it face to the direction you face when taking your tea. That means that the frog attracts money with the mouth. Do not allow outsiders to play with it because they can disturb its spirit.

5. Bai Cai (Chinese Cabbage)

Bai Cai is the Chinese pronunciation of cabbage. The pronunciation in Chinese sounds like “one hundred kinds of wealth”. When it is the jade Chinese cabbage, the Yu Bai Cai sound is more auspicious and it means “coming across a lot of money”.

6. Pixiu

Pixiu is another figure that has deep-rooted status in the ancient culture of the Chinese. According to Chinese legend, Pixiu is a son (the ninth son) of the dragon who eats silver and gold. The dragon only eats but does not defecate, something that makes the belly his belly a treasure. When placed on the tea table, the Pixiu will mean that endless fortune will continue flowing in. Even more, Pixiu drives away the agitation and vanity in other people’s hearts and brings people tranquillity and a good prospect. When placing it on your table, ensure that the head is facing the door or window so that it can draw in money. 

7. Pig Tea Pet

The pig symbolizes wealth and good fortune in Chinese. In farming society, horses, pigs, sheep, cattle, dogs and chickens are the “six livestock”. If the home has no pigs, it is not considered a home. The Chinese adore the plump shape of the pig.

8. Monkey Tea Pet

The figure depicting a monkey riding a horse symbolizes promotion. When it is a mother monkey carrying a baby on its back, it symbolizes generations of fortune. If it depicts three monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth individually, it symbolizes that no evil should be spoken, heard, or seen. The three wise monkeys come from the Analects of Confucius. 

9. Bat Tea Pet

In Chinese, bats are “Bian Fu”. Fu means good fortune and good luck. The animal symbolizes blessings from heaven. Mostly, you will see inverted “Fu” written on walls and four bats drawn on its corners to surround it. 

10. Turtle Tea Pet

Turtles symbolize longevity. Ancient Chinese believed that turtles can absorb spirits and aura of rivers and mountains and it brings. Today, the Chinese see turtles as the spirits of a leading prophet who balances the Yang and Yin. If the tea pet is a figure of a turtle on the back of the other turtle, then it shows that the future generations will be more blessed. 


Appreciation of tea involves more than brewing tea leaves to quench your thirst. It also involves enjoying the tea fragrance and taste. Arranging several tea pets on your tea tray and sharing some of your tea with them will add to the pleasure. When selecting a tea pet, consider the style and the material used to make it because the two affect the tea absorption ability. 

Related Article: Tea Pet: Your Adorable Tea Companions with Great Significance

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Mary L

When you discover something you love you want to share it with the world, that’s only natural. My passion had become my way of life, and I am finally able to share a cup of the good stuff with the ones I love. Proof that dreams really do come true when you can share your favorite brew.

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