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Tea Pets: A Teatime Companion

Greetings fellow Age fans! 

A few weeks ago, we spent some time discussing how animals were an essential part to medieval warfare. Their involvement in military tactics and battle would often determine whether an army would be successful in their attack or not. This week, we are turning our attention to how animals were involved in one of the most notable routines and ceremonial events from Asian cultures: teatime. The tradition of tea steeping, drinking, and tea ceremonies are unique across a various cultures. Some teatimes are intricate, ceremonial, and spiritual experiences, while others are a simple activity to share with friends. Regardless of the occasion, the process of brewing and serving tea is more than just a pour or a sip, it’s an experience for all who participate.

Before we dive in, I have some special furry friends joining us this week to help immerse you into this history. That’s right! Carlisle and Gibbs are here today to tell you about some special teatime friends. While we traveled across Asia, Carlisle and Gibbs stopped in Yixing, China where they met some animal friends whose job is to keep their owners company as they sip and enjoy their tea. These cute little clay companions, commonly known as tea pets, have soaked in tea baths while providing faithful companionship and friendship for centuries.

Are you ready to soak in some new history? Grab your tea and get ready!

Gibbs, Carlisle, take it away… 

  1. Tea pets originated in Yixing, China. This area is where Yixing clay and pottery was born. 
  1. They were made from scraps of clay left over from the crafting process of tea equipment and utensils (cups, pots, etc.) Pets were typically kept with the same batch of clay, meaning they would be considered a part of the set produced. 
  2. Each miniature statue is shaped like an animal, mythical creature, or other companion and were said to bring good luck to those who shared tea with them.
  3. They were not glazed like the rest of the tea sets they were a part of. This step was intentional as it gave their owners the option to customize them based on their tea drinking preferences.
  4. How do they participate during teatime? The first cup of hot water, used to help prepare the leaves for proper steeping, is poured over the pet and given to them as a way to “feed” or “raise” them. Now that the first cup has been offered to the pet, a new batch of hot water will finish steeping the tea and can be consumed by its owner. Over time a consistent pouring of tea would infuse the clay with the scent and color of the leaves and build a glossy tint on the figurine.
  5. Some tea drinkers name their pets.

While they may not be the traditional furry friend some have at home, including these clay pets during teatime creates a special and unique bond between you and them. As you care for them and feed them with your tea, they will bring you good luck and faithful friendship. Some tea lovers like to describe this process as a very spiritual and meditative practice as well, making your clay pet a part of your spiritual practice as well. Regardless of how you raise your tea pet, where you go, or what time you choose to drink your tea, rest assured you will always have someone to share it with.

Do you have a tea pet keeping you company while you lead your civilization to victory? Let us know!


P.S. I’ve been in a bit of a dancing mood lately. Care to join?

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