Chinese Tea Ceremony: Getting Time-Honoured Traditions Right
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A Chinese wedding is never complete without its Chinese wedding traditions, specifically the Chinese tea ceremony. The ceremony serves as a formal introduction for the couple to be accepted into each other’s families.
But with tight budgets and the added COVID-19 limitations, you might be second-guessing the need for some wedding conventions. Exactly how crucial is this time-honoured tradition? And how far can you adapt or keep it minimal with the current restrictions?
Before you make the call, it’s advisable to take some time to understand this custom. So here are a few reasons why the Chinese tea ceremony still remains a top priority for many along with essential information to know if you intend to host one yourself. Of course, rest assured all these tips have been adapted to current COVID-19 circumstances too!
1. Why is the tea ceremony seen as a priority?
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You must be thinking, you’ve already met your partner’s family before the wedding — is this tea ceremony still necessary?
Well, a tea ceremony is more than just a casual exchange! It serves as an event where you formally meet your partner’s family members. Serving the elders tea is customary for you to pay respects to them and, in return, the elders of your spouse’s family will reciprocate with their blessings for the marriage in the form of jewellery or red packets.
Traditionally, this formal introduction involves both immediate and extended family members. Yet don’t worry if you want to keep it intimate – you can choose to have just your immediate family and perhaps the elders of the extended families.
2. When and where to host the ceremony?
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The tea ceremony is typically held in the morning of your big day, in both families’ homes. The serving of tea occurs in the groom’s home, then followed by the bride’s place. But with the need to travel up and down, from each home and then to the wedding venue, it can get tiring.
One modern alternative is hosting the tea ceremony at your wedding venue itself. If you choose this, you’d want to check which wedding venues in Singapore are open to accommodating your tea ceremony.
Especially if you’re keeping it intimate, it is ideal for merging both ceremonies into one to save time. What’s more, it gives you and your partner some rest before the big event! Remember to check with both sides if they are fine with this arrangement.
3. So, what happens in a Chinese wedding tea ceremony?
In the ceremony, you and your partner will serve your relatives a cup of tea each. Starting from the groom’s family, both of you take turns to serve everyone – from the eldest to the youngest of each family.
Drinking tea might seem like a casual affair, but the ceremony’s focus is on serving tea with respect. When serving, don’t forget to take note of these small but necessary details. Hold the cup with both hands, address the family member by their formal term of address, and pass the cup while saying ‘jing cha’ or ‘please drink tea’.
For hygiene purposes, you might want to prepare a sufficient number of cups so you won’t need to reuse the cups either!
4. How you can prepare for the ceremony
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With so many things on the typical Singapore wedding planning checklist, you’d want to be prepared and not let this one ceremony worry you.
First, secure the tea set for the ceremony early. Usually, a tea set is included in your dowry so remember to keep it well. It’s customary for you to use this tea set to serve the groom’s family.
Since there isn’t a type of tea specific to this type of ceremony, it’s good to decide on it early. There are so many different types available, we wouldn’t want to wait till the last minute to come to a conclusion. In general, however, a tea that tastes sweet is recommended because it symbolises happiness for the family.
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And of course, fertility is a popular blessing in Chinese culture. This is granted to the newlywed by brewing the tea with lotus seeds, red dates or longans.
If you think you’ll need help with this tradition, getting a family or friend to help wouldn’t hurt. They can assist you in preparing, pouring tea or even helping to keep track of who you have not served!
It might be tempting to skip a couple of traditions because of the hassle. Yet, some traditions like the Chinese wedding tea ceremony are time-honoured traditions, so consider its purpose and discuss it with your partner.
See where both of your priorities lie. If honouring cultural traditions hold significance to you, it’s worthwhile investing the time and resources preparing for such events as the tea ceremony.
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With that being said, ensure to seek help early enough prior to your wedding to save you the pain of stress-induced headaches (and perhaps even embarrassment from being ill-prepared). Consultants like ours from the Blissful Brides Concierge are more than willing and available to journey with you through these woes. Simply fill this form and our experts in the wedding industry will help get the ball rolling.