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All Washed Up

It seems to be a well-established tradition in Hong Kong that when you sit down at the table in a restaurant you use hot tea to wash the cups, bowls and chopsticks. The theory is that the water has been boiled, so it is safe.

Well, maybe, but what about the people who wash the bowls? Did they clean their hands first?

And if you can't trust the restaurant to provide you with clean bowls, what about the kitchen? Is it safe to eat the food?

All seems like nonsense to me.


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Of course it's rubbish. To sterilise anything properly it needs to be in constantly boiling water for at least 20 minutes. This tea nonsense is total superstition.

Harry Hutton

The theory is that there's lots of TB in HK, which you get from sharing cutlery. (Whether it's true that there's lots of TB, and whether anyone has had their life saved by dipping chopsticks in tea, I don't know. But that's apparently why people do it.)

Provided you avoid ground glass and weedkiller, I'm sure you'll be fine.

Wilfred Pau

I can only offer you my own explanation from a non-gweilo perspective. I do it because now and again, some restaurants (mostly cha chaan teng (tea restaurants)) wash the whole works with bleach. If you care to put your nose to it, you'll know it's there. It's not clever ingesting bleach into your system. I must add that I usually put my guard down when I'm in a restaurant-chain owned eatery.


haha! i am chinese but a bbc...and it is funny that ppl do that in hk....(btw, love ur's good to have a gwei lo's perspective in hk...)

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