Get a taste of Chinese culture with these popular Chinese drinks.
From green tea to rice wine, there are a wonderful array of beverages worth exploring.
China has a rich and diverse history of beverages that will take you on a journey back in time.
Ancient traditions like Baiju have been around for thousands of years.
Then there are newer additions like Yunnan coffee and bubble tea.
Not only are they enjoyed for their taste, but many are touted for having medicinal properties too.
So drink to curiosity and your health by discovering these intriguing Chinese drinks.
1. Chrysanthemum Tea
The Chinese are known for having healing herbal remedies and chrysanthemum tea is one.
Chrysanthemum is a type of flowering plant in the aster family that’s native to Asia.
When used for tea, it has a whole slew of health benefits.
Some of these include blood pressure management, reducing inflammation, and bone loss prevention.
2. Coconut Milk
Crazy about coconut? Start incorporating more of the taste you love into your daily routine with coconut milk.
Coconut milk is hydrating like coconut water, except more decadent.
Creamy and refreshing, it’s a great vegan alternative to cow’s milk with a delectable tropical twist.
I highly recommend making it with fresh coconut.
However, unsweetened shredded coconut works in a pinch.
3. Jiu Niang (Fermented Sweet Rice Wine)
Jiu niang is a type of sweet rice wine that’s been around for a long time.
It’s consumed for its health benefits, as it’s said to improve blood flow while also aiding in digestion.
Unlike grape wine, sweet rice wine has a porridge-like consistency and it’s around 2 percent ABV.
You can doctor it up many ways, making it common for breakfast and dessert as well as savory dinners.
If you want to try it at home, you need sweet rice, Chinese distiller’s yeast, and water.
The process takes a few days, but it can last up to 2 months in the fridge.
4. Osmanthus Wine
Osmanthus is another type of flowering plant native to eastern Asia.
While it’s common in teas, there’s no denying how great it is in Chinese rice liquor.
When used in wine, it imparts a lovely floral bouquet and sweet flavor.
Also known as cassia wine, osmanthus wine has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s also a common libation for birthdays.
So pour a glass and cheers to the birthday person!
Careful though, it’s about 20 percent ABV. So it’s a bit stronger than the average grape wine.
5. Sinkiang Black Beer
Sinkiang black beer is a regional beverage produced in western China by Xinjiang Wusu Brewery.
Brewed with brown sugar and Loulan hops, this full-bodied dark beer ranges on the sweet side.
It also has notes of chocolate and a nutty aroma.
Of course, the brown sugar flavor is also very prominent.
At 4 percent ABV, it’s comparable to a light lager.
That makes it a great beverage to enjoy with some good company over great food.
Speaking of food, it has a reputation for pairing very well with spicy foods.
So try it with an authentic Chinese street food dish like the Sichuan mala chicken.
6. Soybean Milk
Soy milk is a popular Chinese beverage that needs no introduction.
You can find it at pretty much any grocery store you walk into.
But have you tried making it yourself? Like many things, it’s even better homemade.
This vegan milk alternative only calls for two simple ingredients: soybeans and water.
It only takes 25 minutes to make and you can store it in the fridge for a few days.
Creamy, thick, and packed with plant protein, soy milk is a refreshing treat any time of day.
7. Suan Mei Tang (Sour Plum Drink)
Suan mei tang is an alluring sour plum drink with a vibrant crimson color.
It’s made from sour plums, rock sugar, water, and an assortment of dried ingredients like hawthorn and hibiscus.
Sweet, sour, and a little salty, it hits the palate with a refreshing fruity flavor.
Pour it over ice and cool yourself down on a hot day.
Aside from quenching your thirst, it doubles as a medicinal drink for ailments like a sore throat and poor digestion.
8. Tie Guan Yin (Chinese Oolong Tea)
Oolong tea is another popular drink you can find in the states.
It’s a traditional Chinese tea from the camellia sinensis plant.
Partially oxidized, tie guan yin lands somewhere between green and black tea.
Like many teas, it offers a range of health benefits, making it worth incorporating into your diet.
In particular, it contains antioxidants that improve heart health and it may aid in weight loss, too.
9. Tsingtao Beer
Tsingtao is a light lager and one of the most popular beers you’ll find brewed in China.
It all began in 1903 when Anglo-German Brewing Co. founded Tsingtao Brewery.
Now, their flagship beer Tsingtao can be found in over 70 different countries.
With widespread appeal and popularity like that, you know you’re in for one refreshing beverage.
So crack a cold one and pair it with a savory Chinese dish for the full experience.
10. Yunnan Coffee
Thanks to favorable growing conditions, the Yunnan Province produces the majority of Chinese coffee.
Their beans are so popular that even Starbucks in China debuted a single-origin Yunnan coffee for Chinese New Year.
Arabica beans are the main type grown in the province, which are among the best.
In recent years, Yunnan coffee has even taken off in America. So odds are you may be able to get your hands on some.
11. Black Tea
Black tea has been a popular drink in China for centuries.
It comes from the camellia sinensis plant and undergoes a four-step process that includes withering, rolling, fermenting, and baking.
The result is a full-fermented tea with black oxidized leaves and a strong flavor.
The three main varieties you’ll encounter are Xiao Zhong black tea, Gongfu black tea, and Broken black tea.
All of these have unique nuances that delight tea drinkers who prefer a robust cup.
12. Green Tea
While black tea certainly has a following, green tea is the most widely consumed tea in China.
Unlike black tea, green tea is unfermented and undergoes a different process.
The leaves are steamed, pan-fried, then dried. This produces a light green tea with a grassy flavor.
From Dragon Well to Biluochun, there are many types to choose from.
The one thing they all have in common is an abundance of health benefits.
Green tea promotes weight loss, improves digestion, supports cognitive function, and may even lower the risk of cancer.
All the more reason to enjoy a cup!
Baiju is a potent Chinese spirit that has been around since before the second century BCE.
With a lifespan like that, you know you’re in for a legendary drink!
Distilling baijiu entails fermenting sorghum with a yeast starter. The final product is a clear liquor that packs a kick!
It’s very strong with a range of aromas that vary by production.
As an integral part of Chinese culture, it’s a must-try if you can get your hands on it.
Did you know that it’s believed kombucha originated in China?
It has long been consumed as a source of probiotics, antioxidants, and for a bunch of other health benefits.
While the Chinese have been home-brewing kombucha for a long time, it hadn’t caught on in the states until more recently.
So if you’re feeling experimental, give it a try. It’s a great thirst quencher for a hot day.
Mijiu is a traditional Chinese rice wine that comes in many different varieties.
Produced from glutinous rice, it has a sweet, acidic, and subtly bitter profile.
Similar to sake, you can drink it hot or cold. Although, hot tends to be the preferred method of serving.
It’s also used in cooking as much as it’s consumed with a meal.
So feel free to give it a try in your favorite Chinese recipes.
16. Bubble Tea
Bubble tea is a fun beverage for kids and adults alike.
Also known as boba tea, it features milk, tea, and tapioca pearls that look like bubbles in your drink.
It comes in all sorts of flavors and there are vegan alternatives too. That means everyone can enjoy it!
If you’ve never made it before, I highly recommend following this easy recipe.
You get your choice of classic, matcha, or brown sugar.
Kvass is a fermented cereal beverage. It’s considered non-alcoholic because it renders insignificant amounts of alcohol.
While it’s traditionally from Russia, it’s also popular in some parts of China.
Sweet and malty, it tastes like honey and bread.
That’s not surprising given it’s made with sourdough rye bread and honey.
It’s a fantastic use of stale bread. So if you’re looking to reduce food waste, make it at home.
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