Drinks in China

Find out about some of the most popular soft drinks and alcoholic beverages available in China...

The traditional drink in China is tea. It has a delicate fragrance and a distinct flavour and has been a cornerstone of Chinese culture for over a thousand years. Originally, tea was used as a medicine before it evolved into a beverage and the serving of tea became a formal custom.

The most well known varieties of tea are:

  • green tea
  • black tea
  • red tea
  • flower tea

Connoisseurs enjoy Oolong tea, yellow tea and Kudin tea.

Alcoholic Drinks

Jiu is the Chinese word for an alcoholic drink. Chinese wines, which come from a 4,000-year tradition, are made from both grains and fruit and have a good reputation, though grape wines may not compare with those from other places in the world. There are two main types of Chinese wine: fermented drinks, such as huangjiu and choujiu, and distilled drinks such as shaojiu and baojiu.

Fermented wines are made from grains and typically contain less than 20 percent alcohol. Before being bottled, the wine is pasteurised, aged and filtered.

Distilled wines are based on sorghum and have an alcohol content greater than 30 percent. Many of these are very strong and are not at all like western wines. As Jiu is often loosely translated to mean wine, it is sometimes necessary to ask specifically for a grape wine to get Western-style wine in China.

Beer is becoming increasingly popular in China and is available in most restaurants. Tsingtao is the most famous brand, and it was once a German concession. There are many other brands and most are light lagers with about three to four percent alcohol content.

Chinese brandy is very popular and good value. Liquors flavoured with herbs or animal parts are also very popular in China and many are believed to have medicinal benefits.