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Meet Me Before it is Too Late - Sum Kee Steamer

July 19, 2015

Once, people in Hong Kong could view steamers being produced everywhere, but in the 1980s almost all production moved to the mainland. Mr. Lin Yinghong's company is located in Sheung Wan, and is Hong Kong's last existing steamer production company.

"My great-grandfather in the late Qing Dynasty pioneered this business. In the early years he just peddled his goods in the villages and bazaars, but then they moved to expand their business in Guangzhou.  It takes at least three years in order to learn how  to piece together a woven bamboo steamer. I learned the craft from my father and grandfather. Now in China people use the production line to make steamers, with each person responsible for only part of the weave. I may be the last person alive who can complete an entire steamer in person."

"Every day I can make 8 large, or 50 small steamers. The whole process is pure hand-work. Our customers choose our steamers, rather than mass-produced products from the mainland because the quality of our steamer is better and it is more durable than the factory produced equivalent, whiich in a month or two will likely break. We can produce a steamer that will last at least one year. The durability depends upon the maker, and how they deal with the raw materials, such as hand drilling, shake drilling, rolling the bamboo and their skill with a knife to remove the excess parts of the bamboo."