Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony

 With Nancy J. Farrier


My youngest daughter got married April 30th. The night before the wedding, the groom’s family hosted a Chinese Tea Ceremony and we were invited. I had never been to a tea ceremony and wasn’t sure what to expect. It was so amazing that I wanted to research some of the history and thought I would share that with you.


The wedding tea ceremony dates back to the Tang Dynasty, over 1,200 years ago. The original name was cha dao, the way of tea. Although monks carried the tea tradition and ceremony to Japan where it became popular, the tradition started in China.


In the early ceremonies, the bride would serve tea privately to her parents in the morning before the wedding. After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom would serve his family tea. 


Serving the tea shows respect to your family and to the family you are marrying into. The couple are also showing gratitude for the years the parents spent raising them and for their love of the child. The tea has significance. The purity of the tea show that love is pure and noble. The stability of the tea demonstrates faithful love. The fertility of the tea is a blessing so the couple will have many children.


During the tea ceremony, the groom would stand on the right and the bride on the left. The parents would be seated in front of the couple with the bride facing the father and the groom facing the mother. When they serve the tea, the couple would kneel in front of the parents and hold the tea by the saucer. The parents would then drink the tea and offer a blessing to the couple.


Color is very important. The tea pot was red as were the cups used to serve the tea. The color red stands for happiness and joy. The tea served to the parents is different than the tea for the couple. The couple’s tea might have red dates (whole), peanuts, longans, and lotus seeds. All of these symbolize fertility for the new couple.


Gifts are another aspect of the tea ceremony. Tea is only served to the couple’s elders: parents, aunts and uncles, and siblings that are married. The elders are to bring a red envelope which holds a gift. This would be monetary, although the envelope can also hold a blessing for the new couple. Historically, the family members brought jewelry for the bride. When they were served tea, they would put the jewelry on the bride and she would wear the finery for the rest of the ceremony. Jewelry only came from parents and close relatives.


The clothing the couple wears for the ceremony is important too. Traditionally, the bride wears a red silk dress and red tulle veil. The groom wears a Tang suit, traditional Chinese dress. Dragons and phoenixes are popular designs for the dress. 


The Chinese culture is steeped in fascinating history. Some of those traditions have changed. Today, many families choose to have a tea ceremony prior to the wedding that is for both sides of the family. This is what we had. There were still the red envelopes to use for gifts as each family member met with the couple.


At the front of the room there were two chairs for the family members to sit in while the couple knelt on cushions in front of those chairs. The serving went from oldest family member to the youngest, so the oldest uncles and aunts on down to married siblings. As you sat in the chair the couple presented you with the tea and you spent a few minutes chatting with them privately and giving them the red envelope while the rest of the family members talked among themselves. 

My daughter and her fiancé chose to wear green and white instead of the traditional red. I loved their outfits which they wore to the tea ceremony and to the reception after the wedding.


I loved this tradition so much. So often at weddings, it is hard to talk with the older family members because the wedding is so hectic. This ceremony gave the couple time with each family member and was a very special way to introduce the new bride or groom. Afterwards, we all shared a meal. 


Have you ever been to a wedding that included a tea ceremony? Or have you attended a tea ceremony not focused on a wedding? I’d love to hear your experience or thoughts.

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning, best-selling author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats and dog, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:




  1. Congratulations to the new bride and groom! I was unfamiliar with this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for posting today. That sounds like a beautiful moment! I've never been to a tea ceremony. Congratulations on the new branch of the family!!

  3. Congratulations to your daughter and her husband! The tea ceremony sounds like a beautiful tradition, thank you for sharing about it. My daughter-in-law is from India, and they incorporated some things from her heritage at the reception. Best wishes to all!