Yum cha (drinking tea) is an integral part of Hong Kong’s culinary culture.
A cup of steaming fresh tea is the perfect complement to every sumptuous dish. As any tea lover will tell you, the traditional drink – whether Chinese, English or Hong Kong-style – sends forth its unique, delicate fragrances to help shape daily life in Hong Kong.
The ritual of thanking someone in the traditional Chinese-style yum cha has much historical significance. When you see tea-drinkers tapping the table with three fingers of the same hand, it is a silent expression of gratitude to the member of the party who has refilled their cup. Tea Culture The gesture recreates a tale of Imperial obeisance.
It can be traced to a Qing Dynasty emperor who used to travel incognito. While visiting South China, he once went into a teahouse with his companions. In order to preserve his anonymity, he took his turn at pouring tea. His shocked companions wanted to kowtow for the great honour. Instead of allowing them to reveal his identity, the emperor told them to tap two fingers on the table. One finger represented their bowed head and the other represented their prostrate arms.