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Tea and Engagement 茶定
The best-known story of the tea engagement custom is, of course, from the classic Chinese novel “The Dream of the Red Mansion”! In Chapter 25, the important lady Wang Xifeng teased her niece Lin Daiyu, who had fallen secretly in love with her cousin, “Since you drink our family’s tea, why haven’t you become our family’s daughter-in-law yet?”

The 11th century Song Dynasty writer Wu Zimu explains the marriage custom in Hangzhou in his collection of stories “Meng Liang Ru".Once the two families had met and come to an agreement, the groom’s parents gave engagement presents to their future daughter-in-law. These included jade and pearl ornaments, gold utensils, silk dresses and tea. Tea was as valuable and honorable as silk and gold jewelry. 

There is another interesting story, called “The Chen Duoshou Couple”, this time from the well-known 16th century Ming Dynasty writer Feng Menglong in his book “Xing Shi Heng Yan”. The story is about a snobbish mother who forced her daughter to break off her engagement with the Chen family and turn to another more wealthy family. The daughter protested, “I have never heard of a good girl drinking tea from two families.” So tea becomes another word for “engagement”.

Why is it only the tea plant that is used in Chinese culture to symbolize engagement? Send us your answers. We will publish the best answer on our blog! On top of that, you’ll get an exclusive tea present from us!

“Dream of the Red Mansion” written by Cao Xueqing (曹雪芹 1724-1763) is amongst China’s foremost literature.
(The image is taken from the 1988 Chinese TV series based on the novel. The woman on the left is lady Wang Xifeng.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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