One of the interesting things in Chinese culture has to be the Chinese tea ceremony. The Chinese tea ceremony is important because tea is essential in weddings and engagement parties for the Chinese people.
Essentially, tea trees can never be transplanted, and tea only sprouts/ grows from seeds. With this in mind, the Chinese people only took tea as a symbol of love, loyalty, and also the expectation for a happy married life.
But why is the ceremony an important aspect of Chinese culture? Well, keep reading to learn more…
What is a traditional Chinese tea ceremony?
The whole concept behind tea culture is known as the Chinese chayi, which translates to the art of drinking tea or just cha wenhua, which means tea culture.
So, what is this ceremony all about? Well, the traditional Chinese tea ceremony can be defined as a ceremony that is often conducted on a couple’s wedding day. During this ceremony, the bride and the groom have to serve tea to their family members, starting with their parents and the inlaws. The tea ceremony is an important part of the celebration because it symbolizes the union of the two families, and it is, therefore, an important part of the day. This ceremony also takes place in the respective homes of the couple’s family homes.
The tea ceremony has been an important part of the Chinese culture for decades, and it remains an important ceremony through which the newlyweds show their respect for their elders and their families, along with their acceptance of the marriage.
The expression, drinking a daughter inlaw’s tea is one of the common expressions used in wedding ceremonies, and it symbolizes the tea ceremony and represents the wedding. With this in mind, it makes sense that the ceremony remains one of the most important elements of Chinese culture to date.
During this traditional ceremony, the couple that will be dressed in the traditional wedding outfits – qun kwa, the bride’s outfit, will kneel in front of their elders, then serve them tea. The bride and groom are often helped to serve tea by the bridesmaids, with the parents and the inlaws being the main recipients of the tea. In other cases, relatives like the aunts, uncles, and grandparents would also take part in the ceremony.
What does the Chinese tea ceremony symbolize?
The tea ceremony is a significant Chinese wedding ceremony because it is considered where the new couple gets to show their gratitude and pay their respects to their family. The families will, in turn, bless the newlyweds as they start their new married life.
This means that the Chinese tea party is different from the tea parties or the tea cultures from the European nations like Britain or even the East and the Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.
A culture that has been preserved well in Taiwan and in Mainland China, the Chinese tea ceremony is important because of three things that the culture/ ceremony embodies.
- First, it is considered a sign of respect. In Chinese traditions, the members of the younger generation would show off their respects to the older generation or members of society by offering them a cup of tea. So, inviting one’s elders to a restaurant for tea, for example, is considered one of the important traditional Chinese holiday activities. While some connotations from such cultures are a bit more blurred with liberalization, the tradition remains an important sign of respect for most people.
- Secondly, the Chinese tea ceremony is also often used and offered as a way of offering a formal apology. The tea offered symbolizes regret and also submission.
- The third reason why Chinese tea is symbolic is that the tea is believed to be an important way of showing gratitude and celebrating weddings. In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, for instance, the bride and the groom would kneel before their respective parents and other elderly relatives, like grandparents or uncles and aunts, then serve them tea and thank them. Doing this together represented the couple’s expression of their respect and gratitude, and also the joining together of two families.
What to wear to a Chinese tea ceremony?
In the most typical cases, the bride wears an elegant, floor-length, or ankle-length red qipao or cheongsam dress with a mandarin collar. The bride could also wear the more traditional Chinese wedding dress called the qun kwa. If you are not into traditional dresses, you could opt for a simple red dress – red because this is a lucky color in Chinese culture.
The groom, on the other hand, wears a suit or a tux, but they could also opt for the more traditional brocade jacket, the changshan.
How to do a Chinese tea ceremony
Preparation is key for the Chinese tea ceremony, just like any other ceremony. And for your upcoming tea ceremony, the following are the three crucial things you must take to mind when planning.
Two Red Cushions – with kneeling being an important part of the Chinese tea ceremony, you have to get ready two red cushions that will be comfortable for the bride and the groom to kneel on. You could either buy a new set of red cushions or use your parents’ hand-me-downs. The best part is that there are numerous designs that you could choose from. The cushions often have the Chinese character for double happiness printed on them.
Tea Set – the wedding tea set is equally as important as the ceremony, and you’d have to get the best kind of tea set you can find. The tea set is ideally meant to be the couple’s keepsake as they start their new life together. If yours are bigger families, you will need to know the exact number of people who will be attending the ceremony to make sure that there are cups for everyone.
Tea – this is the other important part of the Chinese tea ceremony, and you might want to research or talk to your parents for some guidance on this. Generally, pu’er or tieguanyin tea is used in the ceremony, although other types of teas could be served. Just make sure that whatever kind of tea you choose, it is not diet tea – according to the Chinese, skinny equals bad fortune. In addition to getting the right kind of tea, you also need to get one unpeeled lotus seed along with a red date placed on top of each cup to symbolize fast and continuous childbearing and good luck, respectively. Lilies may also be involved because the symbolism behind lilies matches the expression of the longevity of marriage.
Note that traditionally, the red cushions and the teaware are purchased by the family of the bride.
Why is the Chinese tea ceremony important?
In addition to being a ceremony that shows a couple’s appreciation for Chinese culture, the tea ceremony is important because it is a sign of respect and also a sign of the union of the couple and their families. In most cases, however, the tea ceremony is an important symbol that shows that the two families are welcoming the groom/ bride into their family. And drinking tea shows that the parents not only recognize but also accept the bride or the groom into their family.
Chinese tea ceremony history
While no one has been able to successfully pinpoint exactly when tea became an important ritual in wedding and Chinese dowry ceremonies, the earliest record of the tea ceremonies date back to the Tang Dynasty, between 618 and 907 when the Tang princess Wencheng got married to the Tibetan Emperor called Songtsän Gampo and tea was on her list of items for dowry – this was in 641AD.
Since then and during the time of the Song Dynasty, tea has remained an indispensable part of marriage processes in Chinese culture. It is the case even for individuals from needy families, and tea is considered the crucial component along with the other betrothal gifts.
Tea was also an important part of entertaining wedding guests for the Song Dynasty, and it looks like it stuck on.
Since these times and in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties (1271AD-1912AD), tea remained an important aspect of marriage. From the early 1990s, Chinese weddings were modernized to a large extent, but the tea ceremonies have stuck around.
It’s worth noting that tea wasn’t always used for ceremonial purposes, and it was initially used across China for medicinal reasons, with monks who lived in temples taking tea because of the immense phytotherapeutic benefits.
Chinese tea ceremony set
The tea set is important as it is gifted to the new couple after the ceremony. As a result, the tea ceremony set is designed using the highest quality materials, with a maximum capacity of 150mls. These teapots are important with the design and size of the pots, ensuring a more rounded out taste of the tea that is brewed. The set also features the best quality teacups.