42 Chinese Drinks You Should Know: Spirits | Cocktails | Wine | Beer | No-Alcohol

This list includes a wide array of Chinese beverages, from traditional spirits and teas to modern cocktails and non-alcoholic refreshments, making it a comprehensive resource for those exploring the depth of China’s beverage culture. >>>

1.) Spirits from China

1.1.) Chinese Liquor

1. Baijiu

  • China’s signature distilled grain spirit

Baijiu is the quintessential Chinese liquor, distilled primarily from sorghum and other grains like wheat, rice, barley, and millet. Each variant of baijiu undergoes a unique fermentation process that gives the liquor a wide array of flavors, from the intensely fragrant and strong savory soy-sauce aroma, to the light and smooth earthy rice aroma. The spirit’s heritage dates back thousands of years, playing a pivotal role in ceremonies, celebrations, and daily life.

Across China, you can find countless variations and brands of baijiu, each offering a unique flavor profile, reflecting the diverse climatic landscapes of China and the centuries-old tradition of Chinese distillation craftsmanship. Here are some of the most popular types of baijiu:

– Moutai (Maotai)
  • Complex, soy-sauce-like baijiu

This is arguably the most famous baijiu globally, known for its high quality and strong association with Chinese culture and history. Moutai is a variety of baijiu produced in the town of Maotai in China’s Guizhou province. It’s known for its complex flavor and aroma, often described as somewhat similar to soy sauce, making it a distinctive type of baijiu.

– Wuliangye
  • Five-grain, smooth baijiu

Another top-tier baijiu brand, Wuliangye, is made from a blend of five grains, hence its name, which translates to “five grain liquor.” It’s known for its unique fragrance and smooth taste, making it one of the most prestigious and popular baijiu brands in China.

– Luzhou Laojiao
  • Ancient, strong and fragrant baijiu

This is one of the oldest Baijiu distilleries in China, with a history dating back to 1573. Luzhou Laojiao is famed for its strong, fragrant style of Baijiu, which is a characteristic of the Luzhou flavor category – one of the four main aroma categories of baijiu.

– Xifengjiu
  • Delicate, fen-flavored baijiu

This Baijiu is known for its fen aroma, which is a sub-category of the aroma types in baijiu. Xifengjiu has a light, delicate fragrance and a mellow taste, making it a representative of the Feng-flavor type of baijiu.

– Fenjiu
  • Light, aromatic baijiu

Fenjiu is a light-aroma baijiu, known for its clean, sweet, and light flavor and crystal-clear appearance. It’s one of the oldest Chinese baijiu, an ancient spirit with a history stretching back over a thousand years, originating from the Shanxi province.

– Kaoliang
  • Fiery, sorghum-based baijiu

Kaoliang is a type of baijiu made primarily from sorghum, a cereal grain. It’s particularly popular in Taiwan and is known for its high alcohol content and fiery taste. While it shares similarities with mainland China’s Baijiu, Kaoliang is distinct in its production techniques and flavor profile.

Depending on the region and type of baijiu, the spirit is also known under different names, such as Shaojiu, Laobaigan, Gaoliang Jiu, Qujiu or Jiannanchun. In the West, baijiu is sometimes referred to as “Chinese white liquor” or “Chinese vodka”, due to its clarity and potency, even though baijiu differs significantly in taste and production from vodka.

1.2.) Chinese Liqueurs

2. Rose Liqueur (Mei Kuei Lu Chiew)

  • Floral, sweet rose essence

Mei Kuei Lu Chiew captivates with its distinct rose aroma, marrying the sweetness of sugar with the delicate fragrance of rose petals. This liqueur is not only a testament to the sophistication of Chinese distillation but also to the country’s deep appreciation for floral subtleties in beverages, making it a favored choice for special occasions.

3. Chrysanthemum Liqueur

  • Herbal, chrysanthemum-infused

Infused with the gentle essence of chrysanthemum flowers, this liqueur offers a soothing, herbal taste that echoes the tranquility of Chinese tea culture. Its calming properties and elegant flavor profile make it a unique addition to China’s rich palette of liqueurs, often enjoyed for its medicinal benefits as well.

4. Lychee Liqueur

  • Fruity, exotic lychee flavor

Bursting with the sweet, aromatic flavor of lychees, this liqueur captures the essence of the beloved tropical fruit. Its vibrant taste and fragrance make it a popular ingredient in cocktails, embodying the exotic flavors that are characteristic of China’s diverse fruit landscape.

5. Wu Chia Pi Chiew (Herbal Liqueur)

  • Complex, medicinal herbs blend

Wu Chia Pi Chiew stands out for its complex blend of medicinal herbs, offering a bittersweet taste that is as intriguing as it is therapeutic. Rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, this herbal liqueur is not only a drink but a cultural experience, reflecting China’s holistic approach to health and well-being.

6. Ginseng Liqueur

  • Earthy, revitalizing ginseng root

Ginseng Liqueur, with its earthy and slightly bitter taste, brings the revitalizing properties of ginseng root into the realm of spirits. Revered for its health benefits, this liqueur is a bold representation of China’s long-standing reverence for ginseng as a natural tonic, making it a potent and invigorating drink choice.

1.3.) Other Chinese Spirits

7. Hongxing Jiu (Red Star Er Guo Tou)

  • Potent, sorghum-based spirit

Hongxing Jiu, known for its strong sorghum flavor, is a staple in Chinese celebrations. As a variant of Er Guo Tou, a clear spirit, it’s valued for its high potency and affordability, making it a popular choice among a wide range of consumers seeking traditional Chinese spirits.

8. Dong Jiu (Freeze-Distilled Spirit)

  • Concentrated, icy brewing method

Dong Jiu, created through a unique freeze-distillation process, offers a richer and more concentrated flavor profile. This technique, reminiscent of ancient Chinese brewing methods, results in a spirit with heightened intensity and a smoother palate, distinguishing it in the realm of Chinese alcoholic beverages.

9. Snake Wine

  • Exotic, infused with real snakes

Snake Wine, a controversial yet traditional Chinese spirit, is made by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. Believed to have healing properties, this exotic beverage is not for the faint-hearted, offering a unique insight into the adventurous side of Chinese alcohol culture.

10. Tusu Wine

  • Herbal, Chinese New Year specialty

Tusu Wine, a herbal concoction brewed for Chinese New Year celebrations, is steeped in tradition and folklore. This seasonal spirit is made with a variety of Chinese herbs, embodying the festive spirit and cultural heritage of Chinese New Year festivities.

2.) Cocktails & Alcoholic Mixed Drinks from China

2.1.) Chinese Cocktails

11. Baijiu Sour

  • Tart, Baijiu-based classic

Baijiu Sour revolutionizes the classic sour cocktail by incorporating Baijiu, giving it a distinctly Chinese twist. The combination of Baijiu’s unique flavor with the tartness of citrus creates a complex and refreshing cocktail, bridging traditional Chinese spirits and contemporary cocktail culture.

12. Chrysanthemum Cocktail

  • Floral, elegant mixology

The Chrysanthemum Cocktail is a testament to the art of Chinese mixology, blending the delicate flavors of chrysanthemum tea with the robustness of traditional spirits. This cocktail offers a refreshing and elegant drinking experience, showcasing the versatility of Chinese botanicals in modern mixology.

2.2.) Hot Chinese Alcoholic Beverages

13. Hot Ginger Baijiu Punch

  • Warming, spiced winter drink

Hot Ginger Baijiu Punch combines the warmth of ginger with the boldness of Baijiu, creating a comforting hot beverage perfect for cold weather. This drink not only warms the body but also offers a spicy kick, making it a popular choice in China’s cooler regions and winter festivities.

3.) Brewed & Fermented Alcoholic Beverages from China

3.1.) Chinese Wine

14. Huangjiu

  • Traditional, amber-hued fermented wine

Huangjiu, or “yellow wine,” is a cornerstone of Chinese fermented beverages, celebrated for its rich heritage and diverse flavor spectrum, ranging from sweet to dry. Brewed from grains like rice, wheat, and millet, Huangjiu’s complexity is a testament to China’s ancient winemaking traditions, often enjoyed warm and integral to Chinese cuisine and celebrations.

  • Shaoxing Wine: Renowned for its role in culinary and ceremonial use, Shaoxing Wine embodies the depth of huangjiu, with its nutty, semi-sweet profile making it a versatile ingredient in Chinese cuisine.
    • Guyue Longshan Shaoxing Wine: Esteemed for its authenticity and quality, Guyue Longshan produces Shaoxing wine that is a staple in Chinese households, known for its rich flavor and cultural significance.
  • Huadiao Wine: Distinguished by its fragrant aroma and extended aging, Huadiao offers a smoother, more refined taste, often served during special occasions and valued for its healthful properties.
    • Pagoda Brand Shaoxing Huadiao: A premium example of Huadiao, this wine is noted for its mellow flavor and is often used in high-end culinary applications or enjoyed as a sophisticated sipping wine.
  • Nu’er Hong (Daughter’s Red): A sweet and mellow wine traditionally given as a wedding gift, Nu’er Hong is celebrated for its symbolic value and its smooth, palatable taste, making it a cherished Huangjiu variety.

15. Chinese Grape Wine

  • International style, local terroir (e.g., Great Wall, Changyu)

Chinese grape wines, like Great Wall and Changyu, showcase China’s burgeoning presence in the global wine scene. These wines blend international techniques with local terroirs, offering a range of flavors from robust reds to delicate whites, reflecting China’s diverse climatic regions.

16. Ice Wine

  • Sweet dessert wine from frozen grapes

China’s Ice Wine, predominantly produced in the cold northeastern regions, is made from grapes frozen on the vine. This sweet, concentrated wine is gaining acclaim for its quality and unique flavor profile, enhancing China’s reputation in the dessert wine category.

17. Rose Honey Wine

  • Floral, honey-infused delicacy

Rose Honey Wine combines the sweet allure of honey with the subtle fragrance of roses, creating a delightful dessert wine. This innovative blend reflects the modern Chinese winemaker’s creativity and China’s rich floral diversity.

3.2.) Chinese Beers

Chinese beer culture is characterized by its light, crisp lagers, with Tsingtao and Snow leading as household names. The industry’s growth mirrors China’s rapid urbanization, with a burgeoning craft beer scene introducing diversity to the traditional beer landscape, making China a pivotal player in the global beer market.

18. Tsingtao Beer

  • Crisp, globally recognized lager

Tsingtao Beer, with its distinctive crisp and slightly malty flavor, stands as China’s iconic beer export. Rooted in a German brewing legacy in Qingdao, it’s a symbol of China’s brewing expertise and international appeal.

19. Snow Beer

  • Light, top-selling Chinese beer

Snow Beer, the world’s best-selling beer by volume, epitomizes the light, refreshing style preferred by Chinese beer drinkers. Its widespread popularity underscores China’s massive beer market and the evolving tastes of its consumers.

20. Harbin Beer

  • Oldest Chinese brewery, light lager

Harbin Beer, from China’s oldest brewery, offers a crisp and light lager that reflects the brewing traditions of northeastern China. Its historical significance and enduring popularity highlight the legacy and diversity of Chinese beer.

21. Yanjing Beer

  • Smooth, rice-enhanced lager

Yanjing Beer, the official beer of Beijing, is known for its smooth, slightly rice-enhanced flavor. It represents the capital’s brewing traditions, offering a beer that’s both accessible and reflective of local tastes.

22. Zhujiang Beer

  • Refreshing, Pearl River brew

Zhujiang Beer, a refreshing lager from Guangzhou, is named after the Pearl River. Its light, crisp taste makes it a favorite in southern China’s warm climate, embodying the regional preference for easy-drinking beers.

23. Great Wall Beer

  • Malty, northern Chinese lager

Great Wall Beer offers a richer, maltier lager that caters to the tastes of northern China. Its robust flavor profile contrasts with the lighter beers of the south, showcasing the regional diversity within China’s beer culture.

24. Panda Beer

  • Craft, innovative flavors

Panda Beer brings craft innovation to China’s beer scene, experimenting with flavors and brewing techniques. This brand represents the burgeoning interest in craft and specialty beers among Chinese consumers, eager to explore beyond traditional lagers.

3.3.) Other Chinese Brewed and Fermented Alcoholic Drinks

25. Mi Jiu (Rice Wine)

  • Sweet, mild alcoholic content

Mi Jiu, a gentler cousin to Huangjiu, is a sweet rice wine with a lower alcohol content, making it a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking and a pleasant sipping beverage, often enjoyed during celebrations and festivals for its light and sweet characteristics.

26. Jiu Niang Tang (Sweet Fermented Rice Soup)

  • Dessert-like, mildly alcoholic

Jiu Niang Tang, a sweet fermented rice soup, offers a dessert-like experience with its mildly alcoholic, slightly tangy flavor. It’s a traditional treat often served during Chinese New Year and other festivities, showcasing the versatility of fermented rice in Chinese culinary traditions.

27. Qingke Jiu (Tibetan Barley Wine)

  • Robust, highland barley brew

Qingke Jiu, brewed from highland barley in the Tibetan regions, is a robust barley wine that reflects the unique terroir and cultural practices of Tibet. Its hearty flavor and warming properties make it a staple in the high-altitude, cold climates of the Tibetan Plateau.

28. Chinese Rice Beer

  • Light, crisp with a rice base

Chinese Rice Beer offers a light and crisp alternative to traditional barley beers, with the subtle sweetness of rice. Its refreshing profile caters to the growing demand for lighter, easy-drinking beers in China’s diverse beer market.

29. Sorghum Beer

  • Bold, distinctive sorghum flavor

Sorghum Beer stands out for its use of sorghum grains, offering a bold and distinctive flavor profile that sets it apart from other beers. It’s a testament to the adaptability of traditional Chinese ingredients in modern brewing practices.

30. Lao-Lao (Homemade Rice Wine)

  • Artisanal, potent homemade spirit

Lao-Lao is a homemade rice wine prevalent in rural areas of China, known for its potent strength and varied quality. This artisanal brew is a reflection of China’s rich tradition of home brewing, with each batch offering a unique glimpse into the local customs and flavors of the region.

4.) Non-Alcoholic Drinks from China

4.1.) Cold Chinese Non-Alcoholic Beverages

31. Wong Lo Kat (Herbal Tea Tisane)

  • Refreshing, sweet herbal soft drink

One of the most popular tisane soft drinks in China, Wong Lo Kat is a sweetened herbal tea known for its deep red color and cooling properties. This iconic drink is a staple in Chinese households, especially during the hot summer months. Made from a blend of traditional Chinese herbs, it’s often consumed to alleviate heat and promote digestion, making it a popular choice in China’s warm climates and bustling city streets.

32. Gui Ling Gao (Herbal Jelly Drink)

  • Traditional, mildly bitter herbal beverage with thick consistency

Herbal Jelly Drink, or ‘Gui Ling Gao’, is a unique beverage derived from a Chinese medicinal recipe. It’s made by boiling herbs until they form a jelly-like substance, then served cold, often sweetened with honey or syrup to enhance its palatability. Its slightly bitter taste and cooling effect are believed to have detoxifying health benefits. It’s a popular choice for those seeking refreshment with a traditional twist.

33. Suan Mei Tang (Sour Plum Drink)

  • Sweet-and-sour fruit beverage

Suan Mei Tang, a traditional Chinese sour plum drink, is a concoction of sour plums, sweet osmanthus, and licorice, offering a unique balance of sweet, tart, and floral flavors. This refreshing beverage is revered for its thirst-quenching ability and is commonly enjoyed during the hot summer months for its cooling effects.

34. Hawthorn Juice

  • Tangy berry juice

Hawthorn juice is made from the small, apple-like fruits of the hawthorn tree. The hawthorn berry juice is popular for its fruity, sweet and slightly tart taste, and is often consumed for its purported digestive and cardiovascular benefits, reflecting China’s integration of food and medicine.

35. Luohanguo Tea (Monk Fruit Tea)

  • Sweet but calorie-free fruit tea

Luohanguo tea, derived from the monk fruit, is a calorie-free beverage known for its intense natural sweetness. This sweet, fruity ice tea is a health-conscious choice, providing a flavorful tea experience without the added sugar.

36. Mung Bean Soup Drink

  • Cooling, sweetened legume drink

Mung bean soup is a traditional Chinese beverage made from boiled mung beans, often sweetened and served chilled. It’s popular for its cooling properties and sweet, comforting taste. This nutritious legume-based drink is a summertime favorite, offering relief from the heat with its refreshing qualities and believed detoxifying properties.

4.2.) Hot Chinese Alcohol-Free Beverages

37. Green Tea

  • Antioxidant-rich, refreshing

Green Tea, celebrated for its antioxidant properties and refreshing taste, is a cornerstone of Chinese tea culture, offering a variety of flavors from grassy to sweet, depending on the processing and region of origin.

Popular examples:

  • Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea): Known for its delicate aroma and beautiful flat leaves, Longjing tea offers a mellow, sweet flavor that’s highly prized among green tea connoisseurs.
  • Biluochun Tea: Renowned for its spiraled leaves and fragrant aroma, Biluochun tea delivers a gentle, fruity taste, making it a favorite for its refined subtlety.

38. Black Tea

  • Robust, full-bodied flavor

Chinese Black Tea, known for its full-bodied flavor and rich aroma, undergoes a full oxidation process, resulting in a depth of flavor that ranges from sweet and malty to smoky and brisk, appealing to a broad spectrum of palates.

Popular example:

  • Pu-erh Tea: A unique type of fermented black tea, Pu-erh is known for its earthy flavor and complexity, with aging potential that makes it more valuable over time.

39. Oolong Tea

  • Balanced, aromatic complexity

Oolong Tea, a partially oxidized tea, stands between green and black teas, offering a diverse range of flavors, from floral and light to dark and roasted, reflecting the artisanal skill in its production.

Popular example:

  • Tieguanyin: A premium variety of Oolong, Tieguanyin offers a harmonious blend of floral aroma and a smooth, refreshing taste, embodying the sophistication of Oolong teas.

40. White Tea

  • Delicate, subtly sweet

White Tea is the least processed of all teas, known for its delicate, subtly sweet flavor and natural freshness. Its minimal processing results in a light, elegant taste profile, making it a refined choice for tea enthusiasts.

Popular examples:

  • Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen): Among the most prized white teas, Silver Needle is cherished for its delicate, sweet flavor and silvery-white buds, representing the pinnacle of white tea craftsmanship.

41. Herbal and Floral Teas

  • Soothing, aromatic infusions

Herbal and Floral Teas in China encompass a wide range of flavors, from the sweet and fragrant to the rich and earthy, offering not only delightful taste experiences but also various health benefits.

Popular examples:

  • Jasmine Tea: Infused with the aroma of jasmine flowers, this tea is a popular choice for its soothing fragrance and mildly sweet taste.
  • Chrysanthemum Tea: Known for its cooling properties, Chrysanthemum tea offers a floral, refreshing brew that’s often enjoyed for its healthful benefits.
  • Osmanthus Tea: Delicately fragrant, Osmanthus tea combines the sweet, peach-like aroma of osmanthus flowers with a mild tea base, creating an enchanting floral beverage.
  • Goji Berry Tea: Rich in antioxidants, Goji Berry tea provides a sweet and tangy flavor, celebrated for its health-boosting properties.
  • Dandelion Tea: Earthy and mildly bitter, Dandelion tea is appreciated for its detoxifying qualities and is often consumed for its supposed medicinal benefits.
  • Ginger Tea: Warming and spicy, Ginger tea is a comforting brew, especially valued for its digestive and anti-inflammatory properties.

42. Specialty Tea Blends

  • Innovative fusions

Specialty Tea Blends from China often combine traditional tea bases with other ingredients, resulting in unique and innovative flavors that bridge cultures and traditions.

Popular example:

  • Yuan Yang (Coffee and Tea Mix): A distinctive blend of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea, Yuan Yang offers a bold, energizing flavor, embodying the fusion of Eastern and Western beverage traditions.
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