Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony
Using tea in weddings is practical because not everybody can drink alcohol. The tea ceremony is considered a significant event in a Chinese wedding. The bride is formally introduced to the family of the groom through a Chinese wedding tea ceremony. This takes place on the wedding day itself when all of the members of the family are present.
The History of TeaAccording to a legend, tea was accidentally invented and discovered by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 B.C. It was said that Emperor Shen Nong was a herbalist and a scholar. He firmly believed that drinking boiled water may lead to good health. One summer day, he was on his way to visit a distant region when he stopped to rest and told his servants to boil his water. There was a camellia bush behind and dried leaves began to fall. Leaves fell directly into the emperor's boiling water. The aroma was pleasing that the emperor decided to taste it. Initially, he found it to be refreshing. He then acknowledged that tea gives strength and is medicinal. Around 300 A.D., the tea has become a daily drink to the Chinese.
When to Serve TeaThe tea ceremony for the groom's family is usually done in the morning while for the family of the bride; it is done in the afternoon when the bride and groom have completed the bride's home visit.
There is one rule which is being applied during a Chinese wedding tea ceremony. The bride should be on the left side and the groom on the right. The people being served will have to sit on chairs while the newly weds kneel as they serve tea.
The order of serving tea is usually done by seniority. The parents will be served first, then the grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, elder brothers and sisters and then, elder cousins.
On the wedding day, the bride serves tea to both her parents at home right before the groom arrives. This act is in respect and gratitude to her parents for all the years of love and care.
Normally the groom's sister or a relative will assist in pouring the tea and washing the cups as well. In a traditional Chinese family, the young couple must kneel down while serving the tea. If a living relative of the elder couple is not around, the other will drink on behalf of the absent spouse. Tea is not served for a deceased spouse.
After the drinking of the tea, gifts for the bride and groom will be presented. Gifts are usually in forms of red envelopes and contain money or jewelry. Some relatives prefer that the couple use the jewelry immediately. Unmarried elder siblings do not necessarily present the couples with gifts and tea. To the younger siblings and cousins who help them serve tea the couple will present to them gifts afterwards. The helpers are usually women who are blessed with a happy marriage or abundant wealth. Normally, these women are chosen by a Chinese fortune teller or the bride's mother. These helpers also receive lucky red envelopes filled with money, called lai see, from those being served. These envelopes are placed on the platter where the tea cups are placed.
The Tea SetThe Chinese wedding tea set used for the tea ceremony is kept as a wedding present. The bride's parents will pay for the tea set which is a part of the dowry. The Chinese tea set is a meaningful keepsake for the couple. In the future when the daughter of the bride will get married, the tea set will be used again. Tea sets are available in western and Chinese styles. Popular designs for tea sets include double happiness designs, phoenix, dragons, peony or flower designs and gold trimmings as well.
Any sweet tea that symbolizes sweetness in the new union can be used in a wedding tea ceremony. Lotus seeds and red dates tea symbolizes that the newly wed couple will bear children immediately. Longans and red dates tea symbolizes the wish for bearing male children.
Today, there are over 1,500 kinds of tea for you to choose from. Teas are part of a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony before and until now.