Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The third cup

After we had eaten our dinner at our favourite Chinese restaurant tonight, and were sipping tea, I reflected on things I have learned this visit. One of the things I learned was what the extra tea cup is for. When we order a pot of Chinese tea for the two of us, what is brought to our table is always the pot, and three little cups in a bowl of very hot water. We always wondered what or who the third cup was for, since there are only two of us.

This trip, The Man asked, and we learned that the third cup is for me.

Well, the third cup is for the person who cannot drink very hot tea, so wants to wait for it to cool a little. I fill two cups for me, and by the time I have finished drinking the first, very hot cup (in delicate little sips), I can refill that and then move onto the second one, which is now cool enough for me to gulp down if I want to. The Man, on the other hand, likes to drink his tea at a temperature that would remove the skin from my lips, so doesn't need a second cup. (I think that if there are two people who don't like to scald themselves, they are supposed to pour the tea from the third cup to their own cup, and drink in relay.)

It is nice to have these things cleared up.

I am sure I have learned other things this trip, but right now I am too full and happy to remember what they are.


Keera Ann Fox said...

Now, that is a courtesy I wouldn't mind seeing exported to the west!

kenju said...

Seems to me they would bring 4 cups, so both of you could do that. My husband can drink stuff that's boiling!

Megane~kun said...

Wow, that's amazing! I love how you could learn so many cultural stuff like that on trips.

And I agree, Japanese people seem to have titanium tongues. I've read that the hotter the stuff is, the better tasting it is for them. Like soba.

We once went out and ordered Spicy Mabo Tofu, and even though it was so hot they dug in immediately! And to think that some were still a bit boiling!


Lia said...

What a great idea - to anticipate customer needs, even at the expense of washing an extra cup. I would like that, too.