Cantonese Tea

Background: RT grew up in Taiwan, but his mother is originally from Hong Kong. He speaks fluent Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.

Me: “So I heard there’s a superstition around pointing the tea pot while eating?”

RT: “Yes, Cantonese speakers point the teapot away while eating. You point the mouth outside, away from the table and people.”

Me: “Why?”

RT: “It’s rude. Also bad luck.”

Me: “Do you know about anything that’s ever happened to someone because a teapot was pointed towards them?”

RT: “Not sure. My mom always told me to never do it, so I haven’t tried.”

Me: “Do you know about any other superstitions related to tea?”

RT: “Before we eat, we also use tea to pour inside the bowls and cups to clean and kill the bacteria because it’s hot.”

Analysis: Once again, this is a practice that in some ways serves a practical purpose that can more theologically be applied to superstition. Not pointing the tea pot at someone could indicate bad luck towards the person it’s directed towards, but may also be a reflection of a collectivist society that doesn’t single out any one person for no particular reason, so I think there’s a lot of societal and cultural implications in this practice as well. And then with the tea pouring, it also remains connected to a practical worry, but also denotes a degree of cultural fluency that certainly contributes to in-group and out-group status in degrees as well.