The Cantonese word Yum Cha refers to drinking tea and eating dim sum at a restaurant. Dim sum (Dianxin in Chinese) is a style of Guangdong (Cantonese) food prepared as individual portions served in small round bamboo baskets or on small plates. Learn more about Chinese food
Customers choose from different fully cooked dishes that servers push on carts around the restaurant, and customers can choose their dishes while seated at their tables. Each dim sum dish is normally served with three to four servings per dish. Because of the small portions, people can try a variety of food. Also, dim sum usually comes with tea (such as jasmine or green tea). Chinese people believe that drinking tea with greasy food burns away some of the fat from your meal.
How to Order
Instead of ordering from a menu, customers choose from an assortment of dishes that servers push around on carts. Customers point and choose ones you wish to try before servers move onto the next table. Sometime, you see people getting to the carts instead of waiting until the carts come to the table, and this is perfectly acceptable in Chinese culture. Some restaurants do not have carts and you have to order your dishes by checking the preprinted checklist.
Dim sum is usually linked with the old tradition yum cha (drinking tea), and it is original teahouses that were established along roadside for travelers who needed a place to rest. These teahouses were small roadside pit stops that provided calming tea and food such as steam meat vegetable bun. Rural farmers who are exhausted after long hours of working in the fields would head to the local teahouses for tea and food as a way to relax.
Yum Cha in Modern World
1) The elder gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises.
2) Yum cha is treated as a weekend family day activity.
3) Yum cha is a social occasion when friends gather to enjoy delicious dumplings and little bites served, and chat.
Two Important Things Chinese People Do
1) Pour tea for others before filling one’s own cup during a meal
2) Thank the person pouring the tea by tapping both the index and middle finger
Dim Sum You Might Want to Try
If you are new to eating dim sum, here are some of our favorites. These are steam Har Gow (steam shrimp dumpling), Xiao Long Bao (steam meat vegetable dumpling with a juicy soup sauce inside the dumpling), Lo Mai Gai (rice wrapped in lotus leaf), Cha Siu Bao (barbecue pork bun), Shao Mai (small steam dumplings with either pork, shrimp, or both), Fung Zou (phoenix claws), Taro Dumpling (mashed taro, mushrooms, shrimp, and pork), Chang Fen (rice noodles that are steamed and rolled), Egg Tart (has an egg custard filing in a pastry crust), Dou Fu Fa (silky tofu served with ginger and jasmine flavored syrup), Mang Guo Bu Ding (mango pudding).
Dim sum is social fun meal, and it is the Chinese food people want to try. Learn Facts About Chinese Food
Chinese Vocabulary for Dim Sum
One Minute Chinese: Chinese Vocabulary Words for Dim Sum