The tea ceremony originated in the seventh century and is considered an integral part of a Chinese wedding. It symbolizes honor and respect for the family.
The tea ceremony is traditionally performed for the bride’s and groom’s family separately at their respective homes. The bride’s family tea ceremony occurs first after the wedding games. Then the wedding party will head to the groom’s family home to perform the ceremony for his parents.
The bride should wear her qipao. The groom can change into Chinese clothes as well or stay in his suit/tuxedo.
Set up two chairs for the family members. The couple can either stand and bow or kneel. The couple can stay kneeling while the family members take turns being served tea. The bride will kneel to the right of the groom. The male being served the tea should sit in the chair facing the bride.
Order of Service
- Great uncles and great aunts
- Older brothers and sisters
- Older cousins
If a living member of the couple is absent, the other will drink on behalf of the spouse. If a spouse is deceased, there is no need to pour tea for them.
Pouring the tea
The groom’s sister or a good luck woman “(a woman with living parents, spouse, and children will come to the house to dress the bride’s hair) will pour the tea, and hand the cups to the bride and groom. The bride and groom will serve the elders at the same time, handing them the cup with both hands. They should address them by title, and say words of gratitude such as “Grandma. Thank you for always cooking wonderful food for me and taking care of me.” The elders will drink, provide words of wisdom and encouragement and give red envelopes and gifts, if they desire. They will hand the tea back to the bride and groom, who will accept it with both hands. Then they will hand the cups back to the good luck woman as the elders switch.
The good luck woman will hand fresh cups of tea to the bride and groom. The the couple is serving the tea, the good luck woman must empty the other tea cups, dunk the cups in the bucket of clean water, dry the cups off with the dishrag, and serve fresh tea.
Although the tea ceremony is traditionally performed at home, it has become popular in recent years to include it as part of the reception as a way of sharing a part of Chinese culture with friends and family. There are a lot of protocols to follow, so let’s dive right in.
Here’s the order of service if you combine families