Tea custom refer to the social custom and habits focusing on tea or carried on by tea that have gradually taken shaped during the long-term social life. Tea custom show different characteristics of different regions, and different classes, and different periods. Traditional tea custom of China vary with actual conditions and can be divided into those kept in daily tea drinking, guest entertainment with tea, tea consumption during marriage arrangement and wedding, and sacrifice offering with tea.
Offering tea to guests is a traditional tea custom. China is a country with long-standing civilization and a land of propriety and righteousness. The hospitable Chinese people have gradually turned tea drinking from a daily practice into a refined way of receiving guests. Tea was first offered to the guests in the Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern dynasties (420 – 589). Such custom became a popular practice in the Tang (618 – 907) and the Song (960 – 1279) dynasties. The old saying goes that “when a guest comes, the host offers tea to him as a gesture of respect and welcome; when the host takes up the gongfu tea cup with both hands, he urges the guest to leave.” Of course, the second half of the saying was an undesirable practice at past officialdom, especially in the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). Now, “treating guests with tea” is the commonest way of entertaining guests in Chinese peopled daily life.
Tea consumption during marriage arrangement and wedding includes engagement tea and bridal tea, which are the commonest ways of tea using among the minority ethnic groups of China. Caky tea is also one of the important gifts during wedding ceremony. Tea as a betrothal gift is an auspicious symbol that carries people’s good wishes for the new couple.
Tea has long been used as a sacrifice item in China. There are three ways of offering tea as a sacrifice. The first is to offer tea water contained in a tea bowl or a tea cup as a sacrifice. The second is to offer dry tea as a sacrifice. The third is to present tea sets such as teapot and tea cup as a way of sacrifice offering.