Drinking Tea in China
Chinese tea culture refers to how tea is prepared as well as the occasions when people consume tea in China. Tea culture in China differs from that in European countries like Britain and other Asian countries like Japan in preparation, taste, and occasion when it is consumed. Tea is still consumed regularly, both on casual and formal occasions. In addition to being a popular beverage, it is used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in Chinese cuisine.
There are several special circumstances in which tea is prepared and consumed in Chinese culture.
A sign of respect
- In traditional Chinese society, members of the younger generation show their respect to members of the older generation by offering a cup of tea. Inviting their elders to restaurants for tea is a traditional holiday activity. In the past, people of a lower social class served tea to the upper class in society. Today, with the increasing liberalization of Chinese society, this rule and its connotations have become blurred. Sometimes parents may pour a cup of tea for their children to show their care, or a boss may even pour tea for subordinates at restaurants to promote their relationship; however, on formal occasions, the basic rule remains in effect.
- When sons and daughters leave home for work or marriage, they may spend less time with their parents; therefore, going to restaurants and drinking tea becomes an important activity to reestablish ties at family gatherings. Every Sunday, Chinese restaurants are crowded with families, especially during the holiday season, for this reason. This phenomenon reflects the function of tea in Chinese family values.
- In Chinese culture, tea may be offered as part of a formal apology. For example, children who have misbehaved may serve tea to their parents as a sign of regret and submission.
To show gratitude and celebrate weddings
- In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, the bride and groom kneel in front of their respective parents and serve them tea and then thank them, which is a devout way to express their gratitude for being raised. On some occasions, the bride serves the groom’s family, and the groom serves the bride’s family. This process symbolizes the joining together of the two families.