Chinese tea culture generally refers to the occasions during which tea is consumed, the equipment used for making tea and the preparation methods. There exist several special occasions in which tea is prepared and drunk, notably as a sign of respect, for a family gathering, to show your gratitude to your parents on your wedding day, and to apologize. By offering a cup of tea, the younger generation in China shows respect to the older generation. It is a traditional activity and a part of Chinese tea culture to invite the elders to restaurants for tea.
Today when Chinese society is more liberal than ever, parents may offer a cup of tea for their children at home. Another phenomenon that reflects Chinese family values is a family gathering, which is equally important for both older and younger generations. When children get married and leave home, they seldom visit their parents. For this reason, visiting restaurant and consuming tea has become one of the important activities for family gatherings. Chinese restaurants tend to be overcrowded, especially during festivals.
The custom of serving tea to older generation is well reflected in Chinese marriage ceremony, when both the groom and bride kneel and serve their parents tea to show their gratitude. Parents give their children a red envelope as a symbol of good luck.
Chinese tea ceremony can also serve as a means to meet with all the family members. It is especially popular during weddings when couples serve tea to all the members of the family calling them by their official title. If someone refuses to drink, he shows its opposition to the wedding ceremony.
Another custom in Chinese tea culture was originated in the Qing Dynasty, some 400 years ago. It was the time when Emperor Qian Long traveled incognito with his servant through the country. One day, after filling his cup with tea, he did the same to his servant. The latter wanted to express his thanks, but couldn't kneel as it would reveal the identity of the emperor. So, he bent his fingers in showing respect and gratitude to his master. This customs has found its reflection in modern Chinese tea culture as well: after you cup is filled, you may knock your bent index and middle fingers to express thanks to the person serving tea.
Depending on the occasion's formality, the type of tea being brewed and means of people brewing it, there exist a number of different ways of preparing Chinese tea. Many people including non-Chinese are enthusiastic not only about the Chinese tea taste, but the process of brewing it. Indeed, Chinese tea culture is attractive, in addition to the relaxation generated during brewing, serving and consuming tea.
Among countries boasting a highly developed tea culture, whose origins can be traced back to 690, is Korea, blessed with fresh potable water. For centuries, Korean tea culture has been recognized by Buddhists as a form of meditations, like it was in Japan and China. According to folk songs, poetry and historical records, tea drinking was believed to cause enlightenment which led to becoming a Buddha.
Commoners believed considered tea drinking an important means of achieving self-discipline.