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You (Tea) Animal!

[Editor’s note: I usually don’t layout articles like this (photo-text-photo-text-etc), but the last time I tried to do something snazzy, WordPress messed up the image sizing. These teawares are just too cute (I want them all!) to risk that happening again. Enjoy!]

A lot of people collect “stuff” with animal motifs. A lot of tea people collect “tea stuff” with animal motifs. Often these objects are related to the animals in the Chinese zodiac. Other collections focus on one particular animal that someone happens to like.

And then there are collections that just sort of happen – like mine.

This mug, with an elephant smiling up from the bottom, was a gift from friends, and started my animal-themed teaware collection. It’s really cute, but I used it only once. Seeing an elephant emerge from your tea as you drink it is … well, kinda creepy.

I specifically asked for this frog-on-a-squash Yixing teapot one year. I like that the squash “seeds” make noise when you move the pot. And the frog is sort of related to the dragon in the Chinese zodiac. Sort of.

I use this cute blue Yixing teapot almost every day to make my morning oolong tea. It’s just the right size, the handle is well proportioned to the pot, and the spout doesn’t drip – which is actually why I bought it. Now I like it just as much for the motif, a sweet little ducky on a lotus flower.

Here’s an elegant elephant tea cozy that came to me from Bangladesh via a member of one of my online communities. The embroidery is beautifully intricate.

I adore Japanese kyusu teapots, with their elegant lines and perfect balance. This one, a gift from my dear husband, honours our sweet 90-year old tortoise, Margarit. I’m also told that folks in India believe turtles bring good luck.

My lovely butterfly tea-for-one set with gold accents came to me as part of a tea gift basket. The tea, cookies, and candies are long gone, but this set lingers on as a reminder of a friend’s thoughtfulness.

My sister-in-law sent this piece, also with a butterfly motif, for Chanukah last year. It’s very feminine, and I love that the butterfly forms the cup’s handle. Yes, that’s a tiny ladybug lurking in the “leaves.”

I picked up these charming Japanese “face and butt” teacups last spring during a trip to New York. They make a good pair because in some Eastern calendars the year of the rabbit is replaced by the year of the cat.

Now cats … well, that’s a whole ’nother collection for another time!

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7 responses to “You (Tea) Animal!”

  1. One more comment if I may: I followed the link provided with alejandro’s comment. It’s a lovely teapot, though far from identical to the pot I own. Similar, but the colour, several design details, and chop mark are different.

  2. [link removed per blog policy]

    1. A.C. Cargill Avatar
      A.C. Cargill

      Hi, Alejandro, I had to remove the link per blog policy, but I forwarded it to the article author. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Thank you for your comments. It may very well have been cast rather than hand-built, although considering how low labour costs are in China it is more likely that it was hand-built from a template. Most of the stitching and painting you see on China-made goods are created in this way, and “assembly-line” teapots are too, I’ve been told. This piece was described in a catalogue as a cut-open squash, complete with stem and “seeds.” I’m not sure the “seeds” would be arranged like this if it were a flower; however, I am not an expert in squashes, lotuses, or clay teapots, so am always happy to defer to anyone with greater knowledge. Enjoy your teapots!

    Janis (TeaGuide)

  4. About the ‘squash’ teapot with the seeds and the frog: I think this is actually a lotus flower and not a squash. I recently bough a lot of 8 teapots in boxes at an auction. They are very pretty. One of them is IDENTICAL to the one you show with the seeds. (shape, color, everything is the same) which makes me suspect these are casted from molds instead of handmade (bummer). I am interested in knowing more about these… Do you know anything about the origin, maker, age, etc?



  5. […] the flavour of tea because of the clay’s porous, unsealed nature. Yixing teapots often feature an animal on the body or lid, and sometimes the pot itself is an animal, but tea pets are different; they […]

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