Tea gift, or “Tea Silver”, is a sort of betrothal gifts. In the Tang Dynasty, tea was an indispensable gift in marriage. It has been over 1300 years since Princess Wencheng brought tea into Tibet in line with to the Han etiquette. Tea was evolved from a trousseau gift into a gift prepared for a man’s proposal of marriage in the Song Dynasty. In the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, “Tea gift” almost stood for marriage, with a maid’s acceptance of tea gift being known as “Drink Tea”. Such concept was retained in the Qing Dynasty, when the saying “A good maid will not accept tea gifts from two families” was prevailing.
Nowadays, it is still prevailing in many regions in China to refer to engagement and marriage respectively as “Accept Tea” and “Drink Tea”, and earnest money for engagement and betrothal gift respectively as “Tea Money” and “Tea Gift”. The custom of taking tea as a gift in a wedding is also prevalent in many ethnic minorities.
Tea is presented as a gift in the Mongolian ethnic group on the occasion of engagement and matchmaking to express preciousness of love. It is also presented to a maid’s family as a gift for engagement in Hui, Man and Kazakh ethnic minorities. The engagement is called “Engagement Tea” and “Drink Wedding Tea” by the Hui people, and “Send Great Tea” by the Manchu minority. In bride fetching or wedding ceremonies, tea gift is mainly used to brew “Nuptial Cup Tea” and “Combining Tea” for the bride and bridegroom, or “Thanks Giving Tea” and “Relative Recognizing Tea” for their parents and elders.
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