Dim sum refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in bamboo baskets or on small plates. Literally meaning “to touch your heart,” dim sum consists of a variety of steamed or fried dumplings and an assortment of other goodies.
Originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is linked to the Chinese tradition of “yum cha” or drinking tea. Teahouses sprung up to accommodate weary travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation.
It took several centuries for the culinary art of dim sum to develop. At one time it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food but with the ability of tea to aid in digestion and cleanse the palate, tea house proprietors began adding a variety of snacks, and the tradition of dim sum was born.