Japanese monks travelled to China and brought it back to Japan. Influenced by Japanese culture, the tea ceremony became more grave and formal.
In the very first documented versions of such ceremony, the couple would serve tea to the groom's family after exchanging vows. Then bride would have served tea privately to her own family that morning. However, such practice is rare today, and is only applied by very conservative families.
Today, many couples choose to show respect to both the bride and groom's families by hosting tea ceremonies for both sides.
The meaning of a Chinese wedding tea ceremony
In China, serving tea when guests come is a very traditional propriety. It is a significant way to show respects. In a wedding, such an act is to show respect and gratitude to parents for all the years of love and care.
A tea ceremony also meaningful in many other ways. It's a symbol of purity, stability and fertility. The purity of tea signifies the love is pure and noble; the stability of tea stands for faithful love; the fertility of tea means that the new couple will have many children.
Chinese wedding tea ceremony steps
Traditionally, the tea ceremony for the groom's family is usually done in the morning, while the ceremony for the bride is always done in the afternoon when the bride and groom have completed the bride's home visit.
Today, newly weds often decide to have just one ceremony for both sides together. If you're not experienced with the steps, you can follow the below tea ceremony script.
1. Organise positions: during a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, the groom should stand on the right and the bride should be on the left side. Their parents should sit on chairs and wait for the new couples’ kneel and tea serving.
2. Communicate order of serving: The order of serving tea is very important. It shows how the couple respect their seniority. The parents will be served first, then the grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, and then elder siblings.
1. Serve tea with two hands holding the saucer and bow slightly forward (or kneel). Make sure parents don't have to move or stand up to receive the gaiwan.
2. Those receiving the tea should not hold the cup but the saucer as the gaiwan cup itself can be hot. It's recommended let everyone know this in advance.
3. It can also be good to educate people on how to drink from a gaiwan. The most traditional way is to hold the saucer to move the cup close to your mouth. Then lift the lid slightly to one side and drink. When moving the lid, you can hold the nob on the lid, which isn't hot.
4. Once they've drank the tea, take back the gaiwan with two hands, once again by holding the saucer.
5. Gifts are now presented, which we discuss in the next section.
Wedding tea ceremony gifts guide
After the drinking of the tea, the following procedure is that gifts for the bride and groom will be presented. If it's your first time attending such a ceremony, you might be worried about what Chinese wedding tea ceremony gifts are suitable. Well you really don't have to, since gifts are usually in forms of red envelopes with money that can widely ranges from $50 and anything upwards from that!
Parents, grandparents and some closely related relatives sometimes also present jewellery as a gift. It's good to know that, the couple should wear the jewellery immediately as a sign of appreciation.
Which Chinese tea is suitable?
Any sweet tea that symbolises sweetness is good for the Chinese wedding tea ceremony. It is believed to bring happiness to the couple and to foster good relations between the newlyweds and her new in-laws. You can use sweetened black tea for simplicity sake, but some traditional Chinese black teas are preferred because of the good sound of their names. Here's a list of teas that we recommend:
Which Chinese tea set should I use?
The best teaware to serve tea in is to either use a traditional Chinese gaiwan or a teapot set with matching cups. This is basically a cup that comes with a lid and saucer. A few things that are important:
• Color: Most Gaiwans and teapots are white.
• This isn't suitable for a wedding! Make sure to get one with a base color that is red on the outside.
• Characters: avoid a gaiwan with the character "寿" which means longevity. Though the meaning is good, it's often displayed on items during a funeral. So avoid this character at all cost.
• Symbols: Avoid tea cups with a single dragon or phoenix. Though these are creatures with a positive meaning they've to be displayed as a pair! Flower patterns are also great for weddings. At last, patterns aren't a necessity. Plain red teaware is also suitable.
The Chinese wedding tea set is a meaningful keepsake of the wedding and an important gift from the bride’s family. It can be a family heirloom as well. In the future when the couples’ children get married, the tea set will be used and presented.
Alternative: Use A Teapot Ceremony Set
Besides gaiwans, It's also common these days to prepare tea in a teapot and serve in cups. Some will keep it as simple as a teapot with a few cups.
If you would like to include a tea ceremony in your wedding, just call:
Janet on: 0404463664