As a wedding photographer I've seen many tea ceremonies, hundreds of them and often times I can relate each and every one of them. Actually as an open minded person like me I often believed that the tea ceremony session are one of the most precious culture that Chinese has. However, often times I think that the elderly should be the ones who honor this session because they are the ones who needed to educate the young ones, about how precious and meaningful a tea ceremony session is. Before I dictate about the most common mistakes that most people made, let me just run through the process one by one together, so that you can have a wonderful and meaningful tea ceremony session.
1. The elderly should be sitting down, never feel shy to sit down because it is a tea ceremony, and the tea ceremony is just a ceremony that the elder people give blessings to the new generations. Some people claimed that they are modern people so should be standing, and that simply made the ceremony less meaningful. Regardless the person is modern or traditional, sitting down is also to show respect to the younger generations. Just sit down and give the person a smile if you want. When the person is looking up while sitting, the feeling of receiving the person is stronger.
2. When a person receives the tea, they should hold the tea cup with both hands. It may sound funny but if I photograph a person holding the tea cup with one hand, it seemed disrespect to the person that hand over the tea to the elderly with both hands.
3. When the person hand over the tea cup to the elderly, the person that hand over the tea should address the name that how the person relate to the other. This is the time when the person first address the elderly, and so that he or she may address her in such a way in the future. If this was not done, the person will not get the chance to address the elderly for the first time and might be hard to address it in real life. Due to the Asian introvert personality.
4. When the elderly receives the tea, he or she should finish the tea. Regardless how hot or how full it is, if the elderly concern about the hygenic issues, he/she should request that the tea cup to be cleaned properly first. If he/she did not finish off the tea when the person being addressed, it may seemed that the person is not fully being accepted. We should not feel shy to finish off the tea or made it looked like you are rushing for time due to the long que, you must enjoy the session, where someone is addressing you for the first time.
5. When the elderly finished off the tea, he/she should give some blessings. I know it may sound difficult to many people, but if we used our heart to accept the new person in the family, you will know what kind of blessings you should give, just a few nice and wonderful words from the heart will do. A lot of people skipped this step and if I am a person that is new to the family, I might felt that this person is very hard to talk with in the future because I did not hear what the elderly felt about our marriage.
6. After blessings is done, then only it is time to hand over your gift together with your partner (if you have one), not in between the ceremony. If you try to give a gift in between, the elderly might looked like he/she have a bad relationship with the partner.
7. If blessings is not enough and the elderly feel that you want to make a physical connection to address something in the heart, the elderly should be the first one who initiate it, such as hugs, hand shake and etc.
8. Proceed with the next.
In the end, regardless on how you want to run the tea ceremony is up to the person, and it varies with different cultures. This is just a typical ones that I have seen in Kuala Lumpur. If you are a christian, it is fine to have tea ceremony, this is not religion, it is just part of our culture. Have wonderful session! You can print this out, show it to your parents and relatives before the tea ceremony, once they understand it, then you will have a wonderful and cheerful session. :)
From the love of our team.