A Guangzhou Custom

Having lived in China for over 4 years, I thought I knew about the daily life of Chinese people and their customs, but when I visited Guangzhou, we were met with a new one, and we didn’t know how to deal with it!

So in a previous post, I talked about Trying Dim Sum. We really enjoyed trying many types of food there, but we were surprised about one thing they brought.

After we ordered some tea, the waitress came back with a small tea pot and a bowl. A bowl? We were both wondering why she would bring a bowl (with nothing in it) with our tea. So we asked each other “Why did she bring us this?”. We didn’t know what to do with it us we just poured our tea and started waiting for our food to arrive. The waitress quickly came back and took the bowl away then.

Ok???? That was weird.


The bowl in question

So we drank our tea, ate our food and we were on our way, still not knowing what the whole bowl situation meant.

A few days later we went back to the same restaurant, and again they bring a bowl with our tea. We obviously were meant to do something with it! So we look around and we see a table with a bowl… filled with tea!?!

Why do they have tea in theirs? We continued looking and we realised they were washing their cups and food bowls with the tea, then dumping it into the plastic bowl. The waitress would then come, pick it up and their now empty tea pot, and then bring them fresh tea, minus the bowl!

Ohhh…. so we’re supposed to wash our things with the tea? That’s weird. Why do we have to do that? Is it to warm the cups? Maybe they are dirty!? Oh god I hope not…

We decided to give it a go ourselves, pouring the tea into the cups, swishing it about and dumping it into the plastic bowl. Once we did that the waitress came and took it away, bringing back more tea for us.

We both thought it was a bit of a waste throwing out that good tea, but as they say ‘Do as the romans do’.

So we kept wondering why people here had this custom. We decided to ask a Chinese friend from Guangzhou and she replied that she doesn’t really know why they do it. It’s just a habit that they all have. Even though they know that their cups and plates and clean, they will always rinse them again. She said she even does it at home!

It’s interesting to find out these little quirks that are found all around China. We now know a little more about Chinese culture from southern China!


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