#33 Conversation: Hong Kong Beverages (粵語)

A discussion about where Hongkongers found cool refreshment in the olden days leads Raymond to share some unique drinks. Wonder what "a monk jumping into the ocean" is? Or how you could drink "veggie honey?" Listen to find out. 


  1. 飲品 jam2 ban2 (N) beverage, drink
  2. 茶餐廳 caa4 caan1 teng1 (N) Hong Kong style cafe
  3. 冰室 bing1 sat1 (N) Hong Kong style dessert shop
  4. 留意 lau4 ji3 (V) to notice
  5. 歷史 lik6 si2 (N) history
  6. 殖民地 zik6 man4 dei6 (N) colony
  7. 交匯 gaau1 wui6 (V) to join, to meet
  8. 發達 faat3 daat6 (ADJ) developed
  9. 雪櫃 syut3 gwai6 (N) refrigerator
  10. 電器 din6 hei3 (N) electric appliance
  11. 習慣 zaap6 gwaan3 (N/V) habit; to be used to
  12. 消熱解暑 siu1 jit6 gaai2 syu2 (VO) to cool down from heat
  13. 金融 gam1 jung4 (ADJ/N) financial; finance
  14. 勞動者 lou4 dung6 ze2 (N) labor, worker
  15. 換更 wun6 gaang1 (VO) to change shift
  16. 精神 zing1 san4 (N) energy, stamina
  17. 外來 ngoi6 loi4 (ADJ) foreign, imported
  18. 不嬲 bat1 nau1 (ADV) always, all along
  19. 兩溝 loeng5 kau1 (N) mixing two into one
  20. 奶油 naai5 jau4 (N) cream
  21. 奶昔 naai5 sik1 (N) milkshake
  22. 代替品 doi6 tai3 ban2 (N) substitute
  23. 濃 nung4 (ADJ) concentrated, dense, thick
  24. 走甜 zau2 tim4 (VO) no sugar
  25. 淨返 zing6 fan1 (V) to leave behind, to remain
  26. 營養 jing4 joeng5 (N) nutrition
  27. 香滑 hoeng1 waat6 (ADJ) silky, smooth
  28. 溝稀 kau1 hei1 (V) to dilute, to water down
  29. 和尚 wo4 soeng2 (N) monk
  30. 滾水 gwan2 seoi2 (N) boiling water
  31. 攪勻 gaau2 wan4 (V) to mix, to stir
  32. 花名 faa1 meng2 (N) nickname
  33. 鹹檸 haam4 ning2 (N) salted lemon/lime
  34. 盛產 sing6 caan2 (V) to produce in abundance
  35. 蜂蜜 fung1 mat6 (N) honey
  36. 古靈精怪 gu2 ling4 zing1 gwaai3 (ADJ) quirky, weird
  37. 西蘭花 sai1 laan4 faa1 (N) broccoli
  38. 煲湯 bou1 tong1 (VO) to make/simmer soup
  39. 芥菜 gaai3 coi3 (N) leaf mustard
  40. 豆苗 dau6 miu4 (N) pea sprout
  41. 出奇 ceot1 kei4 (ADJ/ADV) surprising; extraordinarily
  42. 盛行 sing6 hang4 (ADJ) popular, prevalent
  43. 純粹 seon4 seoi6 (ADV) purely, solely
  44. 直情 zik6 cing4 (ADV) even, outright

ADJ - Adjective

ADV - Adverb

N - Noun

V - Verb

VO - Verb object


Cameron: Raymond,如果有人問你香港嘅飲品1文化係點嚟嘅,你會點講呀?

(Raymond, if someone asked you what Hong Kong’s beverage culture was like, what would you say?)

Raymond: 我可以講呀,其實最簡單呢,即係我哋而家成日話茶餐廳2啦,茶餐廳嘅文化啦。你有冇聽過冰室3嘅文化?

(I can speak to that, it’s actually quite simple, it’s what we now always call the Caa4 caan1 teng1 [lit. tea meal hall], or Caa4 caan1 teng1 culture. Have you heard about bing1 sat1 [lit. ice room] culture?)

Cameron: 啊,其他呢嗰係好特別嘅問題。就係冰室同茶餐廳,就係點唔一樣呀?

(Ah, this is a very special question, as in, how are caa4 caan1 teng1 and bing1 sat1 different?)

Raymond: 係,你係咪都有留意4到,即係有啲地方叫茶餐廳,有啲地方叫冰室?知唔知佢哋嗰個分別呀?

(Yes, have you noticed that in some places they are called caa4 caan1 teng1 and in some places they are called bing1 sat1? Do you know what the difference is?)


Cameron: 唔知,應該同歷史5有關,係咪呀?

(I don’t, but it probably has something to do with history, right?)


Raymond: 係喇,當然啦。噉嗱,即係講返譬如廣東人喺香港啦,即係傳統啲嘅文化,即係你話食晏晝或者下晝食下午茶、食點心呢,即係大家會諗到傳統嘅茶樓去飲茶、食點心。食啲熱嘅嘢,係咪?噉但係呢,即係香港係一個殖民地6啦,中西文化交匯7嘅地方。噉呀加上又係一個好熱嘅地方係咪?噉呀,如果喺百幾、二百年前喇,嗰陣時科技呢,都未發達8,連雪櫃9呀,都未未係一個家庭嘅電器10嘅時候,大家要飲凍嘢呢,噉呀,其實都唔係咁,咁容易嘅,唔似我哋今日咁方便呢。噉所以呢,我哋所謂嘅冰室文化呢,其實最早就係因爲大家開始呢,去有呢個飲凍嘢嘅習慣11
(Yes, of course. For example, when it comes to Cantonese people in Hong Kong and their traditional culture, whether it’s eating lunch, afternoon tea, or dim sum, then everyone will think of going to a traditional teahouse and having dim sum. Eating some hot things, right? However, Hong Kong was a colony where eastern and western culture mixed together. On top of that, it’s a very hot place, right? So one or two hundred years ago, when science had not developed and refrigerators were not household appliances, if people wanted to drink something cold, it was not very easy, not as convenient as it is today. So what we now call “bing1 sat1 culture” first arose because everyone started developing a habit of drinking cold things.)


(If you wanted to drink cold stuff, you would need to be able to make ice at home, but that’s not something you could just do at will. You had to go to a restaurant where they had bought a huge chunk of ice and put it in a place for making ice and then you could drink cold things. At the earliest, these were places for eating snacks, what we would call places for “going to drink,” and they began to be called “bing1 sat1” [ice rooms]. Everyone would go there and the most important thing was that you could be comfortable and drink something ice-cold, allowing you to cool down from the heat. So in Hong Kong there was a series of very popular ice-based beverages—have you had any ice drinks in Hong Kong?)


Cameron: 有喎,但係我其實有個問題,因為我覺得你而家噉講嘅嘢好,好有趣喎。就係,係咪,因爲我都有聽見話,之前冇金融13中心,有多啲勞動者14,所以佢哋就係,係咪換更15嘅時候就會去冰室飲啲嘢?

(I have, though I have a question, as I think what you are talking about now is very interesting. I’ve heard that when there wasn’t a financial center and more manual laborers, didn’t they [Hongkongers] go to the bing1 sat1 when changing shifts so that they could drink something cold?)


Raymond: 係呀係呀。

(Yes, yes.)


Cameron: 所以聽見話就係,特別係嗰個鴛鴦,因爲鴛鴦係就係有茶同咖啡嘅,所以佢有非常之多就係咖啡因。所以咖啡因1令到啲人,佢哋就係做嘢嘅時候有多啲精神16係咪?

 (So I’ve heard that in particular with jyun1 joeng1 [lit. mandarin ducks that appear in pairs], because it has both tea and coffee, it has a lot of caffeine. It would let people have more energy when they worked, right?)

Raymond: 嗯,係。噉同埋呢個咖啡、茶文化,咖啡係相對比較外來17嘅飲品啦,茶就係中國不嬲18都有飲開茶啦。噉所以大家可以都,即係慢慢習慣,我唔使一下子飲咖啡,大家未習慣飲咖啡呢,噉就兩溝19,我哋話兩溝啦噉樣。咖啡溝茶,噉就變成鴛鴦啦。噉呀同埋其實喺呢啲冰室呀或者茶餐廳啲飲品呢,好多都係中西去交匯嘅。噉仲有啲例子呢,譬如喺香港有一個傳統嘅飲品,我覺得呢個你未聽過啦,即係忌廉溝鮮奶呀,你有冇聽過?

(Yes. And this coffee and tea culture, coffee came relatively late, but tea was drunk all along in China. So [with jyun1 joeng1] everyone could gradually get used to it, they didn’t need to suddenly drink coffee, they weren’t accustomed to it, so they mixed two into one, we call it loeng5 kau1. Coffee and tea mixed together becomes jyun1 joeng1. But in these bing1 sat1 or caa4 caan1 ting1 beverages, many reflect mixes of east East and West. There are still some examples, like Hong Kong has a traditional drink, I don’t think you’ve heard of it, called gei6 lim1 kau1 sin1 naai5–have you heard of it?)


Cameron: 忌廉就係 cream 嘅意思係咪呀?

(Gei6 lim1 means cream, right?)


Raymond: 係,但係呢個 cream 唔係我哋所謂奶油20嗰種忌廉,呢個係忌廉汽水呀。

(Yes, though this “cream” is not the butter-like cream, this is cream soda.)


Cameron: Oh!係呀,係呀,係呀,呢個係聽過,係呀。

(Oh, yes, this I have heard of.)


Raymond: 有啲人鍾意飲忌廉溝鮮奶呀,覺得呢,呢個飲法呢,好似嗰陣時未,香港都可能未流行噉奶昔21呢,同埋好多華人或者亞洲人唔係好飲得奶嘅,我唔知你有冇留意到,佢哋飲唔到奶。其實我發覺我飲得太多奶我都會,都會唔舒服嘅。噉所以呢,好多飲品佢會搵代替品22,搵啲代替奶,或者你落少啲奶。但係啲人又鍾意奶味呢,噉有乜辦法呢,噉呀,唔飲奶昔,飲忌廉溝鮮奶,結果呢飲咗更加肚痛我發現。

(Some people really liked drinking cream soda with milk, as they thought that the way you drank it, well, it seems that back then milkshakes weren’t yet popular in Hong Kong, and a lot of ethnic Chinese and Asians don’t tolerate milk well—I don’t know if you’ve noticed they can’t drink milk. In fact, I’ve found that if I drink too much milk, I feel uncomfortable. So they would look for a substitute product, a substitute milk, or they would add less milk. But some people also like the flavor of milk, so what can you do but not drink milkshakes and drink cream soda with milk, but as a result if you do drink some you end up with a stomach ache—that’s what I’ve found.)

Cameron: 真係,但係我都發現,就係香港嘅奶茶,就係都係好23嘅,但係冇咁甜嘅。就係你當然都可以加啲糖嘅。但係好多人會,就係諗走甜24嘅係咪?

(Really… However, I’ve found that Hong Kong milk tea is very thick, but it’s not very sweet. I mean, you can of course add sugar but many people will get it without sugar, right?)


Raymond: 嗯,都係頭先個理由啦,佢哋或者要少啲奶呀,或者唔要奶呀。甜,即係要少啲糖呀,所以一個走法就係“走”。走、走甜呀,走糖呀,走奶呀噉樣。呢個係一個廣東話嘅講法,而家都流行。

(Yes, it’s the same reason as before, or they might want less milk, or not want milk at all. With sweetness, as in if you want less sugar, one method is to “zau2” [lit. to run, to do away with]—zau2, as in “zau2 tim4” [no sweetness], “zau2 tong4” [no sugar], “zau2 naai5” [no milk], like that. It’s a saying in Cantonese that is pretty widely used now.) 


Cameron: 係呀,係呀,其實因爲我自己發現就係我喺香港嘅時候可能日日都會聽人用呢個講法,但係我而家喺臺灣,就係國語都有“咩嘢咩嘢‘去糖’(in Mandarin)”。但係冇咁多人會講嘅,因為。。。但係佢哋好鍾意佢地好甜嘅嘢。

(Yes, yes. I’ve found that when in Hong Kong, I might hear this phrase spoken everyday, but now I am in Taiwan where the Mandarin equivalent is qu4 tang2.  But not as many people say it, because…they really like their sweet things.) 


Raymond: 係呀,廣東話而家後來就變成“茶走”、“啡走”,都係我都係近年嚟先聽得多嘅,“茶走”、“啡走”。噉我記得好好笑呀,我問我啲學生:“你覺得呢,‘茶走’、‘啡走’係咩嘢意思呀?”啲同學話:“喔,‘茶走’唔係我要奶茶唔要茶囉噉樣。或者‘啡走’就咖啡唔要咖啡囉。”噉我話:“唔係淨返25隻杯喺度?”佢地唔知係講緊奶同埋糖呀主要。噉,嗱仲有兩個比較傳統嘅飲品呢,你要去啲好舊嘅冰室或者茶餐廳先有嘅。啱啱講到呢,有啲人唔飲奶,但係又想飲奶佢嗰啲味道或者營養26呢,你有冇聽過啲人會飲“奶水”呀?

(Yes, in Cantonese it [a drink without sugar] later became called caa4 zau2 [for milk tea] or fe1 zau2 [for coffee], you hear it a lot in recent years. Something I remember that is pretty funny is that I once asked my students, “What do you think caa4 zau2 and fe1 zau2 mean?” A student said, “Oh, caa4 zau2 is when you want milk tea with no tea. Or fe1 zau2 is when you want coffee with no coffee.” Then I said, “So you just leave behind the cup?” They didn’t know that it mainly had to do with milk and sugar. Now there are two rather traditional beverages that you would have to go to a really old bing1 sat1 or caa4 caan1 ting1 for. We just talked about how some people don’t drink milk, but if you wanted its flavor or nutritional value, have you heard of people drinking “milk water?”)


Cameron: “奶水”?

(“Milk water?”)


Raymond: 係呀。噉呢,我記得我細個去茶餐廳,見到有“香滑27奶水”。你知唔知係咩?

(Yes. I remember when I was little and went to a caa4 caan1 ting1 I saw something called “smooth milk water.” Do you know what it is?)


Cameron: 係咩嘢味道嘅?

(Is it the flavor?)


Raymond: 係加咗水嘅奶,溝稀28咗嘅奶。

(It’s milk with water added, or diluted milk.) 

Cameron: 喔~


Raymond: 係呀,噉呢,呢個係一個啦。噉我諗而家就真係好少人會飲。但係呢,你要去嗰啲好舊嘅、比較舊式啲嘅茶餐廳,你會見到嘅。另外一個呢,叫“和尚29跳海”,呢個可能仲難估啲,“和尚跳海”。“和尚”係一個人啦,即係其實係比喻嚟嘅。你知唔知“和尚跳海”係咩飲品呢?

(Yes, that’s one drink. I think very few people drink it now. However, if you go to really old caa4 caan1 ting1 you will see it. Another one is called “monk jumping into the sea,” this one might be even harder to guess, “monk jumping into the sea.” “Monk” is a person, though it’s actually a metaphor. Do you know what sort of beverage “monk jumping into the sea” is?)


Cameron: 佢點解跳海呢?

 (Why is he jumping into the sea?)

Raymond: 係喇。因爲你睇起嗰杯嘢呢,你會見到好似有啲嘢跌咗落海裏面噉樣嘅。你知唔知係咩嚟?

(Yes, because if you look at the cup, it looks like something has fallen into the sea. Do you know what it is?)


Cameron: 係咪將啲,將啲嘢再擺落去呀?

(So you take something and put it in [the liquid]?


Raymond: 係喇,係咩嘢呢,你估?

 (Yes, can you guess what?)

Cameron: 紅豆?

(Red bean?)


Raymond: 唔係,係雞蛋呀。噉呢其實就係滾水30蛋呀,一杯滾水你加一隻雞蛋。噉然之後呢,佢會攪勻31佢,有啲人會落糖呢,呢個都係以前嘅一個飲品嚟嘅。

(No, it’s an egg. It’s an egg in boiling water, a cup of boiling water that you add an egg to. Of course, then you mix it together, and some people put in sugar. This was also a beverage from before.)


Cameron: 喔~


Raymond: 噉呢然後佢嘅花名32呢,就叫“和尚跳海”喇。好似有個着白色衫嘅,白色袍嘅人呢跳咗落個海裏面噉。係呀,其實簡單啲就叫“滾水蛋”。

(Then it’s nickname is “monk jumping into the sea.” It’s like there’s a person clothed in white robes jumping into the sea. Actually, it’s more simply called “boiling water egg.”)


Cameron: 喔~


Raymond: 係喇,噉但係而家,大家即係覺得喺屋企你都可以整啦。但以前呢又係嘅,可能大家,覺得雞蛋營養好啦,可能又未必平啦,噉你以前喺冰室度都飲到呢個飲品。我諗而家可能冇乜地方搵到喇。

(Yes, and now people think you can just make it at home. But in the past, people might have thought that eggs had good nutritional value but weren’t very cheap, so it was a drink you would have to go to a bing1 sat1 for. I think now there might not be places where you can find it.)


Cameron: 係呀,同埋呢排都有個嗰個“鹹檸33”係咪呀?

(Yes, and now there’s that thing called “salty lemon” right?)


Raymond: 係啦。“鹹檸”就係我覺得近期流行啲,我覺得就係東南亞國家傳入嚟嘅飲法啦。噉佢哋盛產34檸檬啦,青檸啦。噉但係又唔一定要飲甜嘅,噉佢哋會落啲鹽呀,噉呀鹹,鹹檸啦。或者甚至加汽水啦,“鹹檸七”啦噉樣,七喜啦。

(Yes. “Salty lemon” became popular more recently, I think, and it’s a drink that came from countries in Southeast Asia. They produce a lot of lemons and limes. They don’t just drink sweet things, they will also put some salt in, so thus you have salty lemon. You can even add some soda and you get “salty lemon sprite/seven-up.”)


Cameron: 因爲我有啲朋友呀,佢哋行山之後好鍾意飲呢啲嘢。因爲佢哋會講,就係你運動之後,唔止係想飲啲就係甜嘢,都要啲鹹嘅嘢。因爲就係影響你嘅身體嘅就係,點講,嗰個。。。

([I ask] because I have some friends who always like to drink it after hiking. They say that after exercise, they don’t just want something sweet, they also want some salt. It has an influence on your bodies, what do you call them, those…)


Raymond: 電解質。

(Electrolytes. [din6 gaai2 zat1])


Cameron: 電解質。



Raymond: 係喇,電解質,electrolytes,係咪?

 (Yes, electrolytes, right?)

Cameron: 係。


Raymond: 最後我講多一個啦。呢個呢,因爲我都發我啲學生覺得好感興趣嘅飲品呀。就係叫做“菜蜜”呀。“菜”呢就係即係“蔬菜”嘅“菜”啦。“蜜”呢,呢個“蜜”你知,應該知道係指咩“蜜”係唔係?

(Last I’ll talk about one more. I’ve found that my students think that this beverage is really interesting. It’s called coi3 mat6. Now coi3 means vegetable, as in so1 coi3, and you know what mat6 means, right?


Cameron: 係甜嘅蜜。就係嗰個蜂蜜35嘅、蜜糖嘅。

(Sweet honey. Like from bees, honey.)


Raymond: 係,蜂蜜嘅蜜啦。但係你知唔知呢個“菜蜜”係咩飲品呢?“菜”係咩菜呢?噉呢我就俾啲學生估,究竟一杯“菜蜜”裏面落啲咩菜呢?佢哋估啲菜就古靈精怪36啦,咩生菜呀,西蘭花37呀嗰啲,唔係,都唔係。但係你知唔知係咩菜呀,“菜蜜”。

(Yes, honey from bees. However, do you know what sort of drink coi3 mat6 is? I have my students guess—what sort of vegetable do you put in coi3 mat6? They guess all sorts of weird vegetables, like lettuce, broccoli, but it’s not any of those. Do you know what sort of vegetable is in coi3 mat6?)


Cameron: 誒。。。



Raymond: 我俾個提示你啦。噉呀廣東人呢、南方人鍾意飲湯啦。如果煲湯38呢,呢個係攞嚟煲湯嘅一種菜嚟嘅。食就比較少直接食,即係覺得食就冇咁好食,煲湯嘅。

(I’ll give you some hints. It’s something that Cantonese and southerners like to drink in soup. Like when they make soup, this is a sort of vegetable that they put in it. You don’t usually eat it directly, as people don’t think that it tastes as good directly as it does in soup.) 

Cameron: 芥菜39

 (Mustard greens?)

Raymond: 唔係芥菜。

(It’s not mustard greens.)


Cameron: 係,係咪係菜,唔係瓜嘅?

(Not mustard greens. Is it a melon?)


Raymond: 唔係瓜,係菜嚟嘅。噉呢佢啲葉就比較細嘅。噉就其實主要攞嚟煲湯比較多。噉後來就變成一種飲品,叫“菜蜜”嘅。

(It’s not a melon, it’s a leafy vegetable. It’s relatively small. It’s mainly used in soups. Later, it also became part of a beverage, coi3 mat6.)


Cameron: 唔係豆苗40

(Is it bean sprouts?)


Raymond: 唔係豆苗。豆苗炒就好食嘅嘛,係咪。

(It’s not bean sprouts. Bean sprouts are good for eating, aren’t they.)


Cameron: 係呀,我非常之鍾意呀。

(Yeah, I really like them.)


Raymond: 你知唔知西洋菜係咩菜呀?西洋菜,英文係 watercress 呀。

(Do you know what sai1 joeng4 coi3 is? In English it’s called “watercress.”)


Cameron: 喔,係,因為我呢喺美國我會覺得, watercress 就係英國人佢哋做三文治嘅時候鍾意食嘅嘢。

(Ah, yes, because in America we think of it as something that British people like to eat in their sandwiches.)

Raymond: 喔,係咩?

(Oh, really?)


Cameron: 係呀,係呀。就係好傳統,嗰個佢哋就係食 tea 嘅時候,佢哋做 watercress sandwich。

(Yes, yes. It’s very traditional, like when they drink tea, they make watercress sandwiches.)


Raymond: 喔。



Cameron: 係我自己睇書嘅時候會睇到嘅。但係自己未食過呢個嘢。

(It’s something I have read in a book. But I’ve never eaten it.)


Raymond: 你唔講我都唔知,話唔定,話唔定呢個都係英國人去介紹,即係傳到入香港。跟住呢佢就變成飲品一部分,都唔出奇41。噉但係你話。。。

(If you hadn’t said something then I wouldn’t know, it might be that British people introduced it to Hong Kong. Then it became part of a drink, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But you say…)


Cameron: 係咪好健康嘅嘢呀?

(It’s healthy, isn’t it?)


Raymond: 係呀,噉即係大家會覺得飲,你飲,嗰陣時汽水又未話好盛行42嘅時候,大家即係覺得你飲嘢都應該要有營養嘅嘛。即係唔係純粹43有糖有水就飲㗎嘛,噉大家會用好多唔同嘅方法,有檸檬啦當然,噉菜蜜呢,即係比較好做飲品嘅話,可能佢哋覺得西蘭。。。唔係西蘭花,西洋菜。

(Yes, and people would think—back then soda was not as popular—everyone thought that a drink should have some sort of nutritional value. It’s not purely a drink with sugar and water; people would use all sorts of methods, like lemon, of course, or coi3 mat6, to make better beverages. Perhaps they would use some brocco—sorry, not broccoli, watercress.)


Cameron: 係呀,哈哈。

 (Yes, haha.)

Raymond: 西洋菜,譬如可以煲湯,噉就菜蜜呢,就用西洋菜。所以呢,我覺得而家有啲嘅茶餐廳都會有嘅。但係呢,你如果話“菜蜜”呢,通常指嘅菜係西洋菜,有陣時佢直情44寫埋“西洋菜蜜”噉樣。你都可以試吓,都好好飲㗎。

(—watercress, so for example you could use it in a soup or to make coi3 mat6. I think there are some caa4 caan1 ting1 that have it now. If you say “coi3 mat6,” then it means watercress, but there was a point in time when they wrote it out fully as “sai1 joeng4 coi3 mat6.” You can try it yourself, it tastes very good.)