Every culture has its own set of customs, especially when it comes to important events such as weddings. Chinese weddings in particular have many extra ceremonies , and some Filipino-Chinese families still include these practices in their events. Among most Chinese families, the tea ceremony is an important part of the wedding celebration.
Tea is a very important part of Chinese culture and history. It is believed that the practice of drinking tea started in China, when a leaf from a camellia tree fell into water that an emperor was boiling. Over the centuries, tea became a part of everyday life in China. It was first used for its medicinal qualities, and then elevated to an art form. Today, tea remains a significant part of Chinese customs, and is said to be a symbol of respect.
Because of this, a tea ceremony is held during Chinese weddings, right after the wedding ceremony and before the reception. Traditionally, the families of the bride and groom convene at the bride's residence, but they may also hold it at another location.
Kneeling on the right with the groom kneeling at her left, the bride pours tea for the members of the groom's family, starting with his parents, and then moving on to serve his relatives in order of seniority. This is to formally introduce the bride to her new husband's family, as well as to show respect for them. Once they have served the groom's elders, the newlyweds receive red envelopes filled with money or jewelry, as a gift of good luck from the groom's relatives.
Nowadays, however, some Filipino-Chinese families do things a little differently; the bride and groom sometimes opt to stand instead of kneel as they serve the tea. Also, after everyone has had their tea, the ceremony is often followed by a picture-taking session with the couple.
While the ritual itself may have evolved over the years, one thing remains the same--love and respect, both for one's partner and for the families of the couple. These wonderful aspects of life, in essence, are celebrated by the Chinese tea ceremony for weddings.