【Learn Chinese】English Food and Drink Words Borrowed From Chinese

Did you know that there are actually many English words that are borrowed from Chinese?
There are some which are quite obvious like fengshui or kung fu, but did you know that the words ketchup and brainwash actually come from Chinese?
However, not all of these words come from Mandarin Chinese but also from Cantonese Chinese and other Chinese dialects such as Hokkien.
Pak Choi
Pak choi is a common Chinese vegetable that you’ll commonly see included in various stir-fry dishes.
This word comes from the Cantonese: 白菜 baak coi, which in Mandarin is 白菜 báicài and literally means “white vegetable”.
There are two theories about where the term originated, one is that it came from the Hokkien word kê-tsiap which actually refers to a fish sauce.
The other theory is that it came from the Cantonese 茄汁 ke jap (Mandarin 茄汁 qié zhī) which means “tomato juice”.
A staple in Chinese cooking we have tofu. This word has a Sino-Japanese origin.
It comes from the Japanese 豆腐 tōfu, which actually comes from the Mandarin 豆腐 dòufu.
The herbal root ginseng is used in tea and as a natural medicine. The name comes from the Hokkien 人參 jîn sim (Mandarin 人参 rénshēn).
This literally means “human root” and is named after the shape of ginseng which kind of resembles a person.
The term tea actually comes from the Hokkien 茶 tê and was introduced into the English language in the 17th century. However, prior to this the word “cha” was actually used instead of tea, coming from the Cantonese 茶 cha (Mandarin 茶 chá) via Portuguese traders travelling from Macao.
At some point tea became the preferred name and nowadays “char” is just used as a colloquial term for tea in Britain.