The Golden Age of Tea and Tobacco Shops
In the old days, you could find a teahouse on every street corner and many teahouses would also sell tobacco. While tea and tobacco may seem very different products, they are similar in the way that they are produced from leaves and both go through a baking process. In the past, there were quite a number of shops around Shanghai Street selling tea leaves as well as tobacco. These shops were known as “cha yin chong” (literally tea and tobacco houses). After 1880, the so-called “yin jai” or cigarettes appeared. Some tea and tobacco shops began to sell cigarettes as well, but the price of cigarettes was three times higher than that of tobacco, so only wealthier people could afford them. Ordinary people bought shredded tobacco wrapped in a wax-paper bag and rolled cigarettes on their own. There has been an old saying: “three meals a day with tea, tobacco and rice”. This means that every day, besides having regular meals, people would drink tea and smoke, reflecting the importance of tea and tobacco in people’s lives in those days.