Chinese Tea Culture
Chinese tea culture refers to the methods of preparation of tea, the equipment used to make tea and the occasions in which tea is consumed in China. Tea culture in China differs from that of Europe, Britain or Japan in such things as preparation methods, tasting methods and the occasions for which it is consumed. Even now, in both casual and formal Chinese occasions, tea is consumed regularly. In addition to being a drink, Chinese tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Chinese cuisine.
Tea drinking customs:
There are several special circumstances in which tea is prepared and consumed.
·As a sign of respect
In Chinese society, the younger generation always shows their respect to the older generation by offering a cup of tea. Inviting their elders to go to restaurants and having some tea is a traditional activity on holidays. In the past, people of lower rank served tea to higher-ranking people. Today, as Chinese society becomes more liberal, sometimes parents may pour a cup of tea for their children, or a boss may even pour tea for subordinates at restaurants. However, the lower-ranking person should not expect the higher-ranking person to serve him or her tea in formal occasions.
·For a family gathering
When sons and daughters leave home because of work or get married, they may have few times to visit their parents, and parents may seldom meet their grandchildren as well. Therefore, going to restaurants and drinking tea becomes an important activity for family gatherings. Every Sunday, Chinese restaurants are crowded, especially when people celebrate festivals. This phenomenon reflects Chinese family values.
In Chinese culture, people make serious apologies to others by pouring tea for them. For example, children serving tea to their parents is a sign of regret and submission.
·To express thanks to your elders on one's wedding day
In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents and serve them tea. That is the most devout way to express their gratitude. In front of their parents, it is a practice for the married couple to say, "Thank you for bringing us up. Now we are getting married. We owe it all to you." The parents will usually drink a small portion of the tea and then give them a red envelope, which symbolizes good luck. Another variant is that the bride serve tea to the groom's parents, symbolizing that she is to become a part of the latter's family.
·To connect large families on wedding days
The tea ceremony during a wedding also serves as a means for both parties to meet with each other. As Chinese families can be rather extended, and there may be one or two hundred people, it is entirely possible during a courtship to not have been introduced to someone. This was particularly true in older generations where the patriarch may have had more than one wife and not all family members were always on good terms. As such, during the tea ceremony, the couple would serve tea to all family members and call them by their official title. Drinking the tea symbolized acceptance into the family, while refusing to drink symbolized opposition to the wedding and was quite unheard of since it would result in a loss of "face". Older generations would give a red envelope to the matrimonial couple while the couple would be expected to give red envelopes to the unmarried younger ones.
·Folding the napkin in tea ceremonies is a traditional action and is done to keep away bad Qi energy in China as tea (茶) was regarded as one of the seven daily necessities, the others being firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar（柴,米,油,鹽,醬,醋）.
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