In a Chinese wedding, the Chinese tea ceremony day is a significant event that every couple has to go through when they get married. Called jing cha in Chinese, which means to respectfully offer tea, this long-lasting tradition serves as a formal introduction of the bride and groom to both families and a show of gratitude towards their parents for all their support and love over the years.
What is the Tea Ceremony procedure?
During the ceremony, the bride and groom will serve tea as a sign of respect to both sets of parents. In turn, parents will express their best wishes and blessings for the newlywed couple and present them with red packets or jewellery. After serving tea, the bride also receives her Si Dian Jin from her mother-in-law, symbolising her welcome into the new, extended family.
In a traditional family, the couple is required to kneel down while serving tea to their elders. But modern families today only require them to bow before their relatives and kneel before their grandparents and parents. The bride will be on the groom’s right side with the male elder sitting in front of the bride and female elder facing the groom. The “fortune woman” will either be the groom’s sister or bride’s bridal party to assist in the tea pouring and rinsing of the cup for a smoother process.
Where and when is it held?
The tea ceremony is typically hosted on an auspicious date before the wedding or on the actual wedding day at the wedding venue or the couples’ respective homes. For the groom’s family and relatives, the tea ceremony is often performed in the morning once he arrives at the bride’s place to fetch her to his house. Thereafter, the tea ceremony for the bride’s family is held in the afternoon after returning from the groom’s house.
Some couples may choose to conduct the tea ceremony for both sides of the family before the dinner reception begins at the hotel. In this situation, the groom’s family will be served tea in a private room before the bride’s family.
What do you need to prepare?
Sweet tea is prepared during the tea ceremony. Chinese teas such as Tieguanyin oolong tea, pu’er or jasmine tea are often used. It symbolises happiness in the newly wedded couple’s marriage and fosters good relations between them and their in-law families. The purity of tea also signifies pure and noble love, while the stability of tea represents faithful love. Red dates and lotus seeds may be added to the tea as the Chinese pronunciation is synonymous with blessings of fertility and plentiful offspring for the newlyweds.
The tea is served using a wedding tea set in the bride’s dowry, or her family’s hand-me-down, such as her mother’s own wedding tea set. The tea set will become a meaningful keepsake and someday may be used for the same tradition when passed down a generation.
What’s the order of serving for your relatives?
Tea should be served in order of their seniority:
• Granduncles and aunts
• Uncles and aunties (in order of seniority)
• Elder siblings
• Elder cousins
• Younger siblings
• Younger nieces and nephews
Take note that some families prefer to serve the grandparents tea first followed by their parents. Paternal relatives are served first, then the maternal relatives. The tea tray should hold four tea cups. Always present the tea cup with both hands while addressing an elder with their formal title, such as “Father, please drink the tea.”
During the ceremony, gifts will be handed to the couple by each elder. These gifts come in the form of a red envelope that usually stores jewellery or money. These red envelopes are placed on the teacup platter.
Presenting the Si Dian Jin during the tea ceremony
The tea ceremony is also the time when the customary Si Dian Jin is presented to the bride from her mother-in-law to welcome her to the household. The set consists of a gold bangle, a ring, a necklace and a pair of earrings to symbolise a prosperous marriage ahead for the couple.
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