Vietnamese Tea Ceremony Essentials: A Complete Guide

What is a Vietnamese Tea Ceremony?

The Vietnamese Tea Ceremony, known as “Le Dinh Hon” or “Dam Hoi”, is a significant cultural tradition in Vietnam. This ceremony, integral to Vietnamese weddings, symbolizes respect, gratitude, and the union of two families. Understanding the intricacies of this ceremony provides insight into Vietnamese culture and traditions. Being a Vietnamese Los Angeles wedding photographer, I’m happy to share my experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the significance and beauty of Vietnamese tea ceremonies.
  • Learn about the rituals and steps involved in the tea ceremony.
  • Explore the traditional attire worn during tea ceremonies and their symbolism.
  • Understand the Vietnamese Wedding process beginning to end.
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Exploring the Meaning Behind Vietnamese Tea Ceremony

The elegance and gracefulness of the Vietnamese tea ceremony go beyond mere rituals and gestures. This ancient tradition holds deep symbolic meaning, reflecting the values of respect, gratitude, and harmony.

Every aspect of the ceremony, from the preparation and serving of the tea to the exchange of thoughtful gestures, carries profound significance. By understanding the meaning behind each ritual, we gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural and spiritual aspects of this ceremony.

The Symbolism of the Tea Ceremony

The Vietnamese tea ceremony is an expression of reverence and gratitude towards nature, ancestors, and guests. It represents the harmonious balance between individuals and their surroundings, fostering a sense of tranquility and connection.
Throughout the ceremony, participants engage in mindful and intentional actions, each with its own symbolic meaning. From the selection of tea leaves to the pouring of tea, every gesture is imbued with intention.
         “The Vietnamese tea ceremony is an exquisite dance of symbols, where each movement represents respect, gratitude, and
          the sharing of blessings.”
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

The Rituals and Their Meanings

Let us explore some of the key rituals and their meanings within the Vietnamese tea ceremony:

  1. Tuồng Đạo, the sacred path: The ceremony begins with the lighting of incense, symbolizing the purification of the space and the invitation of ancestral spirits.
  2. Preparing the tea: The careful selection and preparation of tea leaves represent the utmost care and respect for nature’s gifts.
  3. Tum trà: This ritual involves pouring hot water over the tea set to warm and cleanse the utensils, symbolizing purity and auspicious beginnings.
  4. Offering the tea: The act of offering tea to guests represents hospitality, gratitude, and a desire to deepen connections.
  5. Receiving the tea: Participants receive the tea with both hands, expressing respect for the tea, the host, and the shared experience.
  6. Sipping the tea: Each sip is savored, allowing the flavors and aromas to awaken the senses. It is a moment of mindfulness and appreciation.

The Vietnamese tea ceremony is an immersive experience that engages all the senses. It invites participants to slow down, appreciate the present moment, and cultivate a deeper connection with themselves and others.

Full Vietnamese Tea Ceremony + Wedding: Vietnamese Tea Ceremony in Los Angeles.

Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

The Cultural and Spiritual Aspect

Embedded within the Vietnamese tea ceremony are the cultural and spiritual beliefs that have been passed down for generations. The ceremony serves as a way to honor ancestors, cultivate mindfulness, and foster a sense of harmony with nature.

By participating in a Vietnamese tea ceremony, individuals are not only invited to partake in a cultural tradition but also to connect with a deeper spiritual realm. It is an opportunity to reflect, find peace within, and appreciate the beauty of simplicity.

Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Vietnamese Wedding Tea Ceremony Attire

In Vietnamese culture, the traditional clothing worn during tea ceremonies reflects the values of respect, honor, and cultural heritage. The attire typically consists of:

  1. Áo dài: The áo dài is the traditional dress for women in Vietnam. This flowing, figure-hugging garment is elegantly adorned in vibrant colors and patterns. It symbolizes grace, femininity, and the beauty of Vietnamese culture. The selection of colors may also communicate different meanings and intentions during the tea ceremony.
  2. Áo váy and khan dong: In certain tea ceremonies, women may wear a traditional áo váy, a fitted blouse paired with a long skirt. Additionally, a khan dong, a silk scarf, is worn as a symbol of cultural heritage and can be used to drape gracefully over the shoulder.
  3. Đồng phục: For men, the attire often includes a traditional tunic known as đồng phục. This stylish top is typically worn with loose-fitting trousers and complements the overall elegance of the ceremony.

By dressing in traditional Vietnamese attire, you not only show respect for the ceremony and its traditions, but you also become a part of the overall aesthetic and ambiance. The combination of the graceful movements, intricate tea preparations, and traditional attire creates an immersive experience that transports participants to a different time and place.

Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Vietnamese Pre-Wedding Rituals

Vietnamese Engagement Ceremony (Dam Hoi)

The engagement ceremony, known as “Đám Hỏi,” is a formal event where the groom’s family visits the bride’s home to officially ask for her hand in marriage. This event typically includes:

  • Presentation of Gifts: The groom’s family presents a variety of gifts, including betel leaves, areca nuts, tea, cakes, and wines, which are wrapped in red paper. These gifts symbolize prosperity and are carefully chosen to show respect and honor to the bride’s family.
  • Exchange of Rings: The couple exchanges engagement rings in the presence of their families, symbolizing their commitment to each other.

Vietnamese Offering Ceremony (Le Nap Tai)

The “Lễ Nạp Tài” involves the groom’s family delivering a dowry to the bride’s family. This ceremony is a gesture of goodwill and financial support, demonstrating the groom’s ability to provide for the bride.

Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Vietnamese Tea Ceremony Wedding Processes

Bride's Farewell Ceremony (Le Vu Quy)

On the wedding day, the bride’s family hosts the “Lễ Vu Quy,” a farewell ceremony. This emotional event is filled with heartfelt speeches, and the bride often wears a traditional “Áo Dài,” a long, elegant tunic.

Bride Procession to the Groom's House (Le Ruoc Dau)

The Lễ Rước Dâu is when the groom’s family arrives at the bride’s home in a formal procession to escort her to his house. This procession is a grand affair, often featuring:

  • Traditional Music and Dance: Musicians play traditional instruments and performers dance, creating a festive atmosphere.
  • Red and Gold Decorations: These colors, symbolizing luck and happiness, adorn the procession and the homes involved in the ceremony.

Vietnamese Wedding Ceremony (Le Thanh Hon)

The marriage ceremony, “Lễ Thành Hôn,” is held at the groom’s home or a designated venue. Key elements include:

  • Ancestor Worship: The couple pays respects to their ancestors by presenting offerings at the family altar, seeking their blessings for a harmonious marriage.
  • Tea Ceremony: The couple serves tea to their parents and elders as a sign of respect and gratitude. This ritual also symbolizes the joining of the two families.
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Modern Influences on Vietnamese Weddings

While traditional customs are still highly valued, modern Vietnamese weddings often incorporate contemporary elements:

  • Western Attire: Some couples choose to wear Western-style wedding dresses and suits alongside traditional outfits.
  • Fusion Ceremonies: A blend of traditional and Western rituals can be seen, reflecting the couple’s personal tastes and the influence of globalization.
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Vietnamese Wedding Reception and Food

After the vietnamese tea ceremony ends, it’s time for a reception. This event lets the two families mix and celebrate together. Everyone is excited to enjoy the delicious vietnamese tea ceremony food. This includes banh mi, spring rolls, and vermicelli noodles.

Vietnamese Tea Ceremony Food

The menu at the reception highlights Vietnamese food that’s been enjoyed for years. It starts with appetizers like fresh spring rolls and sizzling crepes. Main dishes feature items such as broken rice with grilled pork or vermicelli with pork patties. These meals offer a taste of home to many.
Dish Description
Banh Mi A beloved Vietnamese sandwich filled with savory meats, fresh vegetables, and tangy sauces, served on a crispy baguette.
Goi Cuon Fresh spring rolls filled with vermicelli noodles, shrimp, pork, and an assortment of herbs, served with a peanut dipping sauce.
Bun Cha A northern Vietnamese specialty of grilled pork patties served with a warm broth, vermicelli noodles, and fresh herbs.
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

Vietnamese Table Visits

A unique and lively tradition at Vietnamese weddings is the table visits, where the newlyweds make their way around the reception, stopping at each table to greet guests and take a celebratory shot. This custom is a way for the couple to personally thank their guests for attending and share a moment of joy and celebration with everyone present.

The Process

  • Greeting Each Table: The couple, often accompanied by their parents or wedding party, visits each table in the reception venue.
  • Taking a Shot: At each table, the couple takes a shot with their guests. This usually involves a small glass of alcohol, often rice wine or another traditional beverage.
  • Cheer in Vietnamese: The toast is usually accompanied by a cheer, with guests and the couple chanting “Một, Hai, Ba, Dzô!” which translates to “One, Two, Three, Cheers!” This adds a fun and energetic atmosphere to the celebration.
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings


  • Personal Connection: This tradition allows the couple to connect personally with each guest, making everyone feel included and appreciated.
  • Joy and Celebration: The act of taking a shot and cheering together embodies the joyous spirit of the wedding, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collective celebration.
  • Cultural Expression: The table visits and the accompanying cheer highlight a vibrant aspect of Vietnamese culture, showcasing the importance of hospitality and communal joy.
Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings


Vietnamese wedding traditions are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam. These rituals not only celebrate the union of two people but also honor their families and ancestors. As modern influences blend with traditional customs, Vietnamese weddings continue to evolve while preserving their deep-rooted significance.

Photo By: Huy Nguyen // Heartstring Weddings

About Author

huy nguyen los angeles wedding photographer

Hi, I’m Huy! I’m a destination wedding photographer based in Los Angeles. I love sharing wedding planning tips inspired by my experiences shooting weddings. Happy to have you here!


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