What You May Not Know About the Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony Tradition

What You May Not Know About the Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony Tradition

June 24, 2018

 

The tea ceremony has long been considered as one of the most significant rituals in a Chinese wedding. It generally involves the family members of both the bride and the groom, and usually starts at the bridal home first when the groom’s party  arrives to pick up the bride.

I get asked a lot about the what, how, when and why of this tea ceremony tradition, so let’s see if the following may clear some of these questions or misconceptions you might have about this traditional ritual:

  • Purpose of the Ceremony – It’s indeed a special occasion for the bride and groom to show gratitude and thank their parents and/or respected elders in the family for raising them up. However, not many realise that this symbolic event actually mark for the official status change of both the bride and groom to how they now call and address each other’s parents and families. Unlike the Western culture, it’s generally not a practice to address a parent or elder by their first name but rather by their family titles or ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunty’ in replacement of ‘Mr’ and “Mrs’.

 

  • Kneeling or Standing – Kneeling is probably a ‘must’ during the ceremony in the old days when presenting tea, and for those who come from a very traditional and conservative family in today’s society. However, this practice has since shifted primarily because most Chinese families are a lot less traditional than before and have accepted ‘standing’ for logistic reasons to save time and efforts for the bride and groom to constantly change from standing to kneeling for their family members to take a seat.

 

  • Types of Tea - Different people may prefer different Chinese tea leaves, which can range from Oolong, Jasmine, TieGuanYin, Pu Er and so forth. Thus, the question is not about the type of tea to use, but what else do you put inside the tea pot for blessing. Generally, it is suggested that you would include some Chinese red dates and lotus seeds as these carry auspicious blessings that symbolise long-lasting love and relationship.

 

  • Tea Set and Cups – Generally, most couples would choose any Chinese tea set that is colourful that is embrossed with red or gold colour. Choosing a nice tea set is not that hard, the tricky part is often deciding  how many cups are considered enough for the ceremony, given that most tea set would come with two, if not four cups as maximum. It depends on how many family members you will have to serve but generally four cups won’t be enough if you want to be strictly hygienic! This is where you need to think about alternatives, a. if you could find more tea cups (preferably not white), b. having an additional helper to wash and clean the cups to be re-used.

 

  • Tea Cup, Bottom up or not ?– It’s certainly a common courtesy to finish up any food or drinks that others serve you. But in this instance, whether you’re a bride or groom or a family member being served a tea, there is no obligation that you must finish the tea, particularly if the tea cup is big or you have already been drinking quite a few cups before. It’s better to look nice and presentable for photo opportunity than looking panicky or in hurry in the photos.

 

  • Jewellery or Red Packet as gifts– This is entirely your personal preference, depending how close you are to the bride and groom. Generally, most immediate family members or close relatives tend to present their blessings through gold jewellery (e.g. necklace, bangle). And obviously, the more the merrier! You have probably seen some photos where the wealthy Chinese bride has her neck, hands and arms straped literally by a sea of gold! But, there is no need to feel like you’re pressured into following this tradition, as it’s quite common nowadays that many would prefer to give out red packet, so that the money you’ve gave to the couple as a blessing may contribute towards their honeymoon, new house etc.

There are certainly many other things that haven’t been covered in this article, but if you have any other questions related to the Chinese tea ceremony, feel free to fire away through the comment box below! 



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