Tea Pets: Adorable! But what are they for? Let's explain..
Legend states for some handmade yixing clay teapots, when the teapot was finished, the artist would take the leftover clay and create a small figurine out of it. This extra creation became a "tea pet", one that matched your teapot. It's a nice idea, right?
As they were meant to bring luck or fortune, they would often be created in the signs of the Chinese Zodiac. In modern times, Tea Pets are usually made of clay (though sometimes ceramic or porcelain) and they share tea with you. They come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes. Some do tricks when tea is poured on them, like change colors, or spray water.
You can "feed" your tea pet with your first rinse of a tea, or with your extra tea. Your tea pet is a way to show your personality, or have a conversation starter when making tea for others.
Similar to a Yixing teapot, as you pour your tea over your tea pet for years to come, they will patina and "grow" with you.
Keep your tea pets happy by offering them tea regularly, and you will for sure have good luck enjoying great tea.