China is known for its teas and the medicinal properties they have. But, although their alcoholic drinks aren’t as popular, it doesn’t mean that they are non-existent. Drinking alcohol in China is a big deal. Alcoholic drinks in China are normally taken on special occasions like over a business deal that’s been successfully closed or a wedding. On such occasions, the drinks are usually used to make toasts.
Just as there are rules and culture around drinking tea in China, there is also a drinking culture when it comes to alcoholic drinks. Some important rules are that you should drink at the same pace as everyone else and while toasting your glass should be lower than that of the person you’re toasting.
There are several alcoholic drink options in China. In this post, we will be looking at the common types of alcohol in China. From the list, we will also look at what their most popular alcoholic drink is.
What Alcoholic Drinks Do Chinese Drink?
Alcoholic drinks vary in China. There are many options to choose from including different types of beers, wines, cocktails, and liquors like Baijiu. The following are some of the common types of liquor you’re likely to come across in China:
This type of alcohol exists in large varieties in different parts of Asia, but it is said to have originated from China. Although it’s referred to as wine, the techniques used in making it resemble brewing more.
Rice wine is made from steamed rice that’s mashed and mixed with yeast (starter). During the making process, the starch in the rice first converts into sugar. From there the presence of the starter turn the sugar into liquor. The taste of rice wine varies based on how it was produced but generally, it’s sweet.
In Taiwan, this drink is called michiu, although universally it refers to basic Chinese rice wine. It is made from glutinous rice and is considered the first variety of rice wine before others came up around Asia. Normally it’s heated before drinking, although this type of wine is mostly used in making different cuisines. The variety made for cooking is normally slightly salted to add flavor to the food. The alcohol percentage ranges from 12-20%.
This type of alcohol comes from Guilin in China but is said to have originated during the Song Dynasty. It’s considered an expensive variety of rice liquor made from the pristine waters of Li River, mixed with high-quality steamed rice and a starter. The starter used in this particular drink is normally said to contain a subtle herbal taste and carries medicinal properties. The mixture is then distilled to produce a clear and colorless spirit. It has a sweet aftertaste with a vague herbaceous aroma. To age the spirit, it is normally stored in clay pots and left in the Guilin caves that offer the best cool suitable climate.
This drink is considered the national Chinese drink and an important part of its culture. There is no special occasion that passes without a toast of the drink. It is a clear spirit made from distilling fermented grains. The grains vary from rice, sticky rice, sorghum, corn, and wheat. Based on the products used, Baijiu is in many varieties, but overall, it has a high-quality complex full-bodied flavor. It’s normally packaged as containing 50%ABV and categorized based on the strength of its aroma. That is light, strong, rice or sauce baijiu.
This drink is most famous in Nepal and Tibet in China. It’s made from either rice, barley, or millet. It has a slightly gritty texture and appears cloudy and milky white. Most people will describe its flavor as tart and sweet. The drink is made by cooking the grains, chilling them, and mixing in yeast. The mixture is then left to ferment for some days and then mixed with water. The resulting drink has low alcoholic content and may sometimes be frizzy depending on how long it’s fermented.
This is a potent and clear type of Baijiu with 60%ABV, normally enjoyed in small amounts as a social drink. It originated in the 17th century and is strongly associated with Beijing and other parts of North-East China. This strong spirit is made through the double distillation of fermented sorghum.
This is another type of rice wine that’s amber and clear with 18%ABV. It’s especially popular in Zhejiang province and made from brown glutinous rice that’s been aged for over decades. It’s normally used in cuisines as flavorings for marinades and sauces or stir-fried or braised dishes.
This is a variety of Baijiu is the most popular kind made from fermented sorghum that’s distilled seven times throughout the year. It’s then stored and aged in earthware vessels before it’s blended. The resulting drink is pure and crisp and praised for its complex flavor. Traditionally, you’re meant to serve them in special tulip-shaped glasses at room temperature and enjoy them on special occasions. They also make great a special gift.
This variety of baijiu is made using the natural underground water from Shaanxi province. It is said to have originated from Feng Xiang where phoenixes would fly from hence its name. Unlike other baijiu varieties, this one has a combined aroma of both light and strong baijiu with a lingering finish. The strong drink can be made from fermented peas, sorghum, barley, and wheat.
What Is the Most Popular Alcoholic Drink in China?
The most popular alcoholic drink consumed in China is Baijiu, which is why it is considered the Chinese National drink. It is always present for every special occasion in China. Although its fame hasn’t made it out of the country, it is the top-selling type of alcohol there.
It is traditional alcohol that has been produced for over 5o centuries in China. It can be made from distilling a large variety of grains, from rice, sorghum, and peas, to barley, corn, and wheat. Its alcoholic content will vary from30-60%ABV. The different varieties are categorized based on the varieties we’ve already mentioned. The most popular variety is Maotai and the most potent is Erguotou.
Now you know the main types of alcoholic drinks in China and how they are made. Before you indulge in drinking in a Chinese company, ensure you understand the rules of their drinking culture. This way you can avoid offending anyone or embarrassing yourself.