Preparing for the Tea Ceremony
Chinese tea is commonly used for the tea ceremony. You can also use chinese sweet tea for the ceremony as the sweet tea will symbolize the sweetness in the new union.
- Lotus seeds and red dates tea 莲子红枣茶: The lotus seeds represent the wish for the couple to bear children quickly and continuously.
- Longans and red dates tea 龙眼红枣茶: The longans represent a "dragon" and the wish for the couple to have sons.
The groom can arrange his sisters or relatives to assist in pouring the tea and washing the cups. The bride will arrange her own sisters, relatives or even bridesmaids to carry out the tasks.
For hygienic purpose, the tea cups must be rinsed after serving each elder. If the sink is not easily accessible, remember to prepare warm water for the rinse.
Remember to thank the helpers and present them with ang pows for their help !
Tea Ceremony at Groom's Side
The tea ceremony is usually first conducted at the groom's side. After the groom fetches the bride from her house, the bride is formally introduced to the groom's family and relatives through the tea ceremony. The ceremony can be conducted in the morning or just before the wedding banquet, whichever is convenient.
Tea Ceremony at Bride's Side
Traditionally, the bride will need to return home after 3 days, known as the 三朝回门. It is then the tea ceremony is conducted at the bride's side.
However modern couples prefer to arrange all necessary ceremonies within the same day for simplicity and efficiency. This is why after the tea ceremony at the groom's side, the bride may change into another gown, a cheongsam or a kwa to denote the passing of 3 days, before conducting the tea ceremony at bride's side.
For some family, the bride may choose to serve her parents tea in the morning before she is married. Because when she returns in the afternoon, she is already a married woman.
Who To Serve First
Generally tea is served from the most elder to the least. Though some families like to start with grandparents, others prefer to start with parents. There is no right or wrong of whom to serve the tea first. A guide is below.
3) Granduncles & Grandaunties
4) Uncles & Aunties
5) Elder Siblings
6) Elder Cousins
Usually the father's relatives are served before the mother's relatives.
Serving the Tea
During the ceremony, the bride will stand to the right of the groom. The bride will served the tea facing the male elder, while the groom will served facing the female elder. The bride and groom will bow or knee to the elders and greet them properly while serving them tea.
If the one partner of the elder couple is not able to attend the tea ceremony, the other partner will drink on behalf of the absent spouse. Do note that tea is not poured out for a deceased spouse.
The bride would address her spouse's family members and relatives the way he would and vice versa. It would be embarassing if you cannot address the elders properly. Be sure to consult your parents prior to the tea ceremony.
This chart will provides you the general terms in addressing family members and relatives
Presenting and Accepting Gifts
After drinking the tea, the family member or relative would present a gift for the wedding couple. The gifts are usually in the form of ang pows or jewellery. The bride may choose to put on the jewellery gifts immediately or not to. However, bride must not reject if family members or relatives offer to help her put on the jewellery gifts.
The bride and groom would need to present gifts, usually ang pows, to the younger siblings and cousins who serve them tea.