origin of dim sum

The Origin of Dim Sum: Good-to-Know Facts for Dim Sum Lovers

When thinking about Chinese food, dim sum always comes to mind, right? This popular Chinese food has been loved in many parts of the world—being such an iconic staple that a meal at a Chinese restaurant or a Chinese takeout would feel incomplete without it! Let this article tell you some interesting facts about your favorite food if you are a dim sum lover.

Defining Dim Sum: What Makes It Different from Other Chinese Food Items

Dim sum is a bite-sized dumpling filled with varying fillings. It is often served on small plates or steamed in bamboo baskets, along with other Chinese snacks, and accompanied by tea. Typically, this snack is shared by a group of friends or family members. 

A standard dim sum menu consists of different types of snacks. There are steamed buns, dumplings, and noodle rolls. Each comes with various fillings and ingredients, making them a well-loved meal by many! Whether you love animal meat or prefer vegetables, there’s a bite for every taste palette.

When you bite on a dim sum meal, you will experience the same burst of ingredients into your mouth. The collection of food lets you enjoy savory and sweet tastes combined. 

Its Origin: How Dim Sum Come to Life

According to history, there were once Chinese travelers who were traveling along the Silk Road. Since it was a long journey, they needed to find places to rest and recover. Most of the time, they would stop in tea houses where they would be served wonderful and different teas. 

During that time, doctors were passionate about the benefits of tea to one’s health. That is why drinking it was well-encouraged. Back then, it was believed to aid digestion. Hence, the tea houses started serving food in small portions to pair with their tea and convince more people to try their drinks. That was when the pairing of dim sum with tea began, and Yum Cha’s tradition took off!

Understanding the Yum Cha Tradition

Yum Cha is a Cantonese phrase that literally means “to drink tea.” Pair it with the dim sum, which translates to “touch the heart,” and you get a heartful meal and drink!

Every time dim sum is served, there will always be a teapot that gets refilled every time. In Chinese tradition, dim sum is enjoyed during brunch time, and often, it is accompanied by loud and endless conversations. 

If you are a waiter serving a family having dim sum and yum cha, you should know when they need refills of tea without them asking. The last thing you would want is to interrupt their casual conversations or family discussions!

One of the effective signals that were developed then was placing the lid on the teapot side, letting it rest against the handle. Once the waiter sees this, they would know that the group wants a tea refill. 

Other Important Things to Know about Dim Sum and Yum Cha

If you want to enjoy your dim sum and yum cha while following the traditions of the Chinese, here are some essential things to remember:

  • Never reach out to a dim sum meal far from you. Instead, ask someone else to pass it to you. 
  • When someone pours you some tea, you express your gratitude by tapping the table. The method of tapping varies depending on your marital status. If you are single, use your index finger to tap the table. If you are married, tap using your two fingers (the index and middle fingers). 


Dim sum is a well-loved dish throughout the world. Traditionally, Chinese people enjoy eating them from early morning to afternoon, but anyone can enjoy them now until nighttime. Therefore, it does not matter when you crave for them; you can enjoy dim sum whenever you want! To make the experience complete, always have a cup of tea with it.

Are you looking for a dim sum restaurant in Houston? You are on the right page. Ocean Palace Chinese Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant serves the best dim sum in Houston. We have a wide variety of snack-sized portions of steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried, and baked dim sums you can enjoy. Check our complete dim sum menu, and we can deliver them to you!

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