Chinese Tea Ceremony

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Now that the Chinese New Year is just a few days away, I thought I'd share a few tips on a Chinese wedding tradition that is now beautifully incorporated to many modern weddings - the tea ceremony.

Historically, the Chinese tea ceremony was created to show respect for the family. After exchanging vows, the couple would serve tea to the groom's family (the bride would serve tea to her family earlier before the ceremony privately). It's also the time where the Chinese wedding contract is witnessed and signed.

These days couples choose to hold an all-inclusive tea ceremony including both families.

Here's a few tips if you're planning to have a tea ceremony on your wedding day.

During the ceremony, the couple serves tea to the groom's family first and then to the elders in order of seniority. First would be the groom's parents followed by her groom's paternal grandparents then maternal grandparents. Next would be his oldest uncles and aunts and then finally his oldest brother. After taking one sip, the elders would hand a lucky red envelope (usually containing money or jewelry) to the couple and the envelope would be place on the platter holding the tea. And then the same manner would be for the bride's family. 

Traditionally, the tea ceremony is held after the wedding ceremony but it would depend on how much privacy you would prefer. If you wish to have a very private one with just immediate family, you can have it before the wedding ceremony at your own home. Other options would be to have them during cocktail hour when your guests are enjoying their hors d'oeuvres or have it the day after the wedding as a post wedding brunch.

Tea ceremonies can be held almost anywhere either indoors or outdoors. I love it when couples choose to serve them on a patio or a garden adding some fresh air to something so traditional.

What you'll need?
- A table
  This can be for displaying ancestral photos and serve as a n altar for ancestors.
  Other items include: white flowers, fruits, offertory wine and burning incense.
- Candle (optional)
  Some couples burn two candles (one with a phoenix and one with a dragon motif) to represent each family while some opt to light just one candle to symbolise the joining of two families.
- Tea set
- Choice of tea to serve (popular options are black dragon, orange blossom or classic green tea)

There you have it! A beautiful touch of old tradition mixed with the new, definitely makes your wedding day even more special.

Just in case you're wondering, Ruffles & Bells do cater Chinese tea ceremonies. We have a tea set ready for hire and decors that can be perfect for you on the day.

A happy Chinese New year to you all! Now there's more reason to wear polkadots!

Photography by Snippets Photography.

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