Want some Cow Tit Tea?


So,I am discovering a new problem in my Chinese studies. I routinely run into phrases where I understand all of the words except for a just a few. The problem is I can no longer just ‘ask’ what do those words mean. A good example is yesterday Rebecca was “just dying” for some noodles. So, we took 10 steps out our back door to find some delightful places down an alley. When we were there they offered us Dan Dan noodles. Specifically they are called Cai Rou Dan Dan Mien. Of this phrase Cai Rou means vegetable and meat mixed and Mien means noodles. So, that begs the question what they heck does Dan Dan mean? Rebecca thought it meant egg. A good suggestion as Ji Dan is egg, but the Chinese would not refer to egg noodles as egg egg noodles. When I asked my teacher today, she smiled. Turns out Dan Dan… (wait for it)… has no meaning. It is just some space filler for a nice sounding words.

Typing this up got me wondering if this is actually where P.F Chang’s gets their famous Dan Dan noodles. It seems there are a lot of English words that come out of their Chinese equivalent.

So, if my teacher thought Dan Dan was funny she was not prepared for my NEXT question. After eating I had some Boi Ba Nai Cha. Again the same problem. I knew Nai is milk, most commonly used with Niu Nai, for cow’s milk and Cha is tea. Nai Cha = Milk Tea (as opposed to Red, Green, Black, Oolong, Flower, etc… they are kinda serious about their tea here :) Now Boi Ba, what could that mean? It sounds kinda like “bubble” and that is what the tea is! It is bubble tea (see picture). There are little black pearls or ‘bubbles’ of gelatin placed in the bottom and then prepared hot or cold. You can have different colored pearls and different sizes. It actually is quite common in the States, so you should be familiar with it to some extent. If not, check out this great link on how to make bubble tea and all its components (note: check out the line that says, “your choice of pearls or___”. Close, but not quite :)

So… if the story ended here it would not be so exciting. Note: I did not say that Boi Ba means bubble. When I encounter a word or phrase that I do not understand I ask , “What is ___?”. Now imagine me asking , “What is Boi Ba?” to my 50 year old Chinese teacher. Come to find out, it means BOOB! Not just normal boobs either, but VERY large boobs! On a side note: “boob” (the normal sized ones) is Nei Nei which sounds surprisingly close to Nai (milk) or Nai Nai (grandma). Don’t get those two mixed up! So, the name of this drink? Big Fat Booby Milk Tea! I am not kidding you as that is the direct translation. It is really just a cutesy name, but the English translation to “bubble” leaves something to be desired. Seems to me that if you are going to sell this product it should come in packages like this:

 

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