Calls and sounds of the Peking street peddlers

Paintings of street sellers and descriptions of their cries and jingles from Samuel Victor Constant's Calls, Sounds and Merchandise of the Peking Street Peddlers, written in 1936 as a master's thesis at the College of Chinese Studies.


This peddler cries “hsing jen erh ch’a yu” – or “Almond tea oh!”. He carries two round wooden containers suspended on either side of a pole carried on the shoulder, a “t’iao tzu”. In the one carried in front is a small stove to warm the liquid which is carried in a copper bowl. The other wooden container is used to carry the coppers earned from selling the tea and a few extra china bowls.

This almond “tea” is made with a base of rice flour – “mi fen” – to which is added a little sugar and powdered almonds. The mixture is served very hot and is most palatable. It is also a favourite dish at Chinese feasts.