It’s believed that the roots of the Chiu Chow people, there were two major migrations to Chaozhou or the Province of Guangdong, PR of China today. The first occurred during the Western Jin dynasty (A.D. 265-316) to then again in the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), when the Han people fled south, to escape the occupation of the nomadic tribes from the North.
Initially, the Chiu Chow people migrated from Zhongyuan (中原) – today’s Henan province plus the downstream regions of the Yellow River, regarded as the cradle of the Han people – to present-day Fujian for a few generations, before setting out for the plains of southeast Guangdong and establishing the eight counties of Chaozhou Prefecture during the Qing era, they are: Fengshun, Raoping, Cha’an, Jieyang, Puning, Chaoyang, Huilai and Chenghai.
The Teochew people or Chaoshan people also known as Têo-Swa, speaks the Teo-Swa Min (Chaoshan) language (typified by the Chaozhou dialect). Today, the Chaozhou Prefecture remains robust, prosperous and rich in tradition, however, Chaoshan people have known to have emigrated to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Loas and Indonesia
The dialect Teo-Swa Min has been one of the oldest and most well-preserved Chinese dialects. Even with the long Chinese History and many changes of ruling dynasties; Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279), Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1271-1368) and the Manchu people during the Qing dynasty (A.D. 1644-1912, the spoken Teo-Swa Min in the far south and expats that had moved away from China has continued to keep the spoken dialect alive albeit influenced by some local slangs in the countries that they settled in.
Traditionally Teochew people do not consider a meal without seafood a proper meal, believing that freshness and quality of ingredients determining the taste and flavor. Poaching, braising, and steaming are common techniques, mild flavors and minimal use of food oil are common traits of the cuisine
A popular condiment is shacha sauce (沙茶酱), a paste made from soybean oil, garlic, chili, dried shrimp, and fish sauce. It is commonly used in beef and Chaozhou hotpot.
Another common dish “Lau” is a dark soya-based sauce cooked with pork, tofu and eggs stewed in a mixture of anise, rock sugar, five spices, licorice, and cinnamon. Derivative dishes using this basic soya base sauce are often cooked with Duck, chicken, and Goose as well. is a very popular dish among the Chaozhou people
Teochew oyster omelet is another popular dish found in night markets where Teochew people can be found. Though it varies by region, in general the omelet with oysters, starch, green onions and Cilantro that have been fried with pork lard, giving it a crispy texture and some sticky texture.
Teochew people are noted for favoring kung fu tea or Gangfu Cha, “Kung fu 功夫” means skill and technology, while“Kung fu tea 功夫茶” is used to mean “making tea with great skill”. It is a traditional tea ceremony involving in lots of brewing skills and techniques, the art of tasting tea and is time-consuming, hence it got the name. Predominantly the tea leaves are Oolong Tea(Green Tea) such as Tie Guan Yin, Shui Xian, and etc.
Teochew opera is a traditional art form which has a history of more than 500 years and is now enjoyed by 20 million Teochew people in over 20 countries and regions. Based on local folk dances and ballads, Teochew opera has formed its own style under the influence of Nanxi Opera. Nanxi is one of the oldest Chinese operas and originated in the Song Dynasty. The old form of choral accompaniment still preserves its distinctive features. Clowns and females are the most distinctive characters in Teochew opera, and fan-play and acrobatic skills are prominent.
Teochew music is popular in Chaoshan’s teahouse scene. The Teochew string instrument, gong, drum, and traditional Chinese flute are typically involved in ensembles. The current Chaozhou drum music is said to be similar to the Drum and Wind Music form of the Han and Tang Dynasties.