What Alcoholic Drinks Are in China? (30+ Answers)

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.

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What Alcoholic Drinks Do Chinese Drink?

China has a rich and diverse drinking culture, and there are several traditional alcoholic beverages that are popular in Chinese cuisine and social gatherings. Here are some of the alcoholic drinks commonly consumed in China:

Baijiu: Baijiu is a strong distilled liquor and is considered China’s national drink. It is typically made from fermented sorghum, rice, wheat, or other grains. Baijiu has a high alcohol content, often ranging from 40% to 60% or even higher. It is usually consumed neat or used in traditional toasts during festive occasions and business banquets.

Rice Wine: Rice wine, also known as “mi jiu” or “huang jiu,” is a traditional Chinese alcoholic beverage made from fermented glutinous rice. It has a moderate alcohol content, usually around 15% to 20%. Rice wine is commonly consumed during meals and is also used in cooking to enhance flavors in various dishes.

Huangjiu: Huangjiu, also referred to as “yellow wine,” is another type of traditional Chinese rice wine. It is made from fermented rice, water, and a starter culture. Huangjiu has a sweet and mellow taste and is often aged for several years to develop its flavors. It is commonly consumed as a celebratory drink during festivals and special occasions.

Beer: Beer has gained popularity in China over the years, and both domestic and international beer brands are widely available. Chinese beers range from lighter lagers to darker and stronger varieties. Beer is commonly enjoyed in social gatherings, bars, and restaurants, particularly during hot summers or while watching sports events.

Herbal Liquors: China is also known for various herbal liquors, which are often made by steeping herbs, roots, and other ingredients in alcohol. These herbal liquors, such as Maotai and Wuliangye, have distinct flavors and are believed to have medicinal properties. They are commonly served as digestifs and are enjoyed in moderation.

Fruit Wines: China has a long tradition of making fruit wines, utilizing fruits such as plum, lychee, peach, and various berries. These fruit wines can have different levels of sweetness and are often consumed as a refreshing beverage or used in cooking.

It’s worth noting that the drinking culture in China varies across different regions, with local specialties and preferences. Additionally, imported wines, spirits, and cocktails have also gained popularity in urban areas and among younger generations.

what is traditional Chinese alcohol?

Traditional Chinese alcohol refers to a variety of alcoholic beverages that have been produced and consumed in China for centuries. These beverages are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and have played significant roles in social gatherings, ceremonies, and traditional medicine. Here are some examples of traditional Chinese alcohols:

Baijiu: Baijiu is considered the most traditional and iconic Chinese alcohol. It is a strong distilled liquor typically made from grains like sorghum, rice, wheat, or corn. Baijiu has a high alcohol content, ranging from 40% to 60% or even higher. It is known for its potent aroma and distinct flavor profiles, which can vary depending on the production methods and regional styles. Baijiu is often consumed during special occasions and business banquets.

Huangjiu: Huangjiu, also known as “yellow wine,” is a traditional Chinese rice wine that dates back thousands of years. It is made from fermented rice, water, and a starter culture, often incorporating traditional fermentation techniques. Huangjiu has a sweet and mellow taste, and its flavor develops with aging. It is commonly enjoyed during festivals and important family celebrations.

Maotai: Maotai is a famous type of baijiu that originated from Maotai Town in Guizhou province. It is highly regarded as one of the finest and most prestigious baijiu brands in China. Maotai has a distinct aroma and a strong, fiery taste. It is often associated with formal banquets and gift-giving on special occasions.

Shaoxing Wine: Shaoxing wine, named after the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, is a type of fermented rice wine. It has a rich history and is commonly used in Chinese cooking to enhance flavors in various dishes, particularly in braised and stewed recipes. Shaoxing wine has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and is also enjoyed as a beverage on its own.

Medicinal Wines: Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the use of medicinal wines, known as “yao jiu.” These wines are made by infusing herbs, roots, and other botanical ingredients in alcohol. They are believed to have therapeutic properties and are consumed in moderation for their perceived health benefits.

These traditional Chinese alcohols reflect the country’s long-standing brewing and distillation practices, and they continue to hold cultural significance in Chinese society. They are often associated with hospitality, celebrations, and the preservation of age-old customs and traditions.

what is Chinese alcohol called?

The general term for alcohol in Chinese is “jiǔ” . This term encompasses various types of alcoholic beverages, including both traditional Chinese alcohols and international drinks. However, when specifically referring to the traditional Chinese alcohol, the most well-known term is “báijiǔ”, which translates to “white alcohol” or “clear liquor.” Baijiu is the most popular and widely consumed Chinese liquor and is considered the national spirit of China. It is known for its strong and distinctive flavors and is often associated with formal banquets, celebrations, and cultural traditions.


Qionglu, Yaojiang, Xiangyi, Qiongjiang, Huangjiao, Xuanli – Nectar of Qiong, Jade Milk, Fragrant Ants, Yellow Beauty, Mysterious Elixir

Jinbo, Yuyou, Yucu, Yuyi, Yupai, Yujiu – Golden Waves, Jade Companion, Jade Larva, Jade Ants, Jade Lees, Jade Wine

Yuyun, Yuxun, Yuye, Yuyejinbo, Yuyeqiongjiang, Yurenbei – Jade Nectar, Jade Paste, Jade Drips, Jade Liquid Golden Waves, Jade Liquid Qiongjiang, Cup of Jade Person

Yujiang, Yugao, Yuli, Yuxidong, Yudongxi, Yuzun – Jade Liquor, Jade Marrow, Fragrant Brew, Fragrant Ants, Fragrant Lees, Fragrant Lees, Spring Vessel, Fragrant Liquor, Spring Overflow, Spring Lees, Spring Must, Spring Lees, Spring Wine

Yushang, Yulian, Yusui, Fanglu, Fangyi, Fanglao, Fangxu – Jade Goblet, Jade Wine, Jade Marrow, Fragrant Fermentation, Fragrant Ants, Fragrant Liquor, Fragrant Lees

Fangzun, Fangli, Chunang, Chunlu, Chunpei, Chunao, Chunyun – Fragrant Jar, Fragrant Wine, Spring Brim, Spring Fermentation, Spring Lees, Spring Lees, Spring Wine, Spring Ants, Spring Brewing, Aged Spring, Fine Wine, Fermented Rice Wine, Fragrant Lees

Chunli, Chunyi, Chunniang, Laochun, Zhi Jiu, Xun, Xiangqu – Spring Liquor, Spring Ants, Spring Brewing, Old Spring, Fine Wine, Fermented Rice Wine, Fragrant Lees, Fragrant Wine

Xianglao, Luobo, Pei, Lu, Lu Xun, Long, Ganlao, Ganli – Fragrant Lees, Fermented Rice Wine, Lees Waves, Lees, Fermented Rice Wine, Lees, Sweet Fermented Rice Wine, Sweet Liquor

Dukang, Bai Duo, Zhongshan, Yunye, Shixun, Kuangyao, Huoquan – Dukang, Fallen White, Zhongshan, Cloud Liquid, Ten Days, Mad Medicine, Disaster Spring

drinking alcohol/Chinese alcoholic drinks names:

Xianbei – Sipping from the cup

Xianshang – Raising the goblet

Ruanbao – Drinking to satisfaction

Beishao – Sipping from the cup and the ladle

Fubai Jubai – Floating white and lifting white

Hongyin – Downing drinks

Niuyin – Drinking like a cow

Zongjiu – Drinking excessively

Shangzhuo – Toasting and pouring

Gongzhuo – Toasting and pouring with a goblet

what are Chinese alcohol made of?

Chinese alcoholic beverages are made from a wide range of grain and starch-based products. The sources of raw materials are diverse. There are three main categories based on the source:

Starch-based: This includes ingredients like sorghum, corn, and sweet potatoes, which are commonly used as the primary raw materials.

Sugar-based: This includes ingredients like sugar beets and sugarcane, which are used as supplementary raw materials.

Fiber-based: This includes materials like rice straw and wood chips, which are typically used for industrial fuel production. These materials undergo chemical treatment to convert the fibers into sugar before the fermentation and distillation process.

With the rapid development of modern brewing technology, the dominance of sorghum as a grain for alcohol production has started to change. Currently, corn and rice have become the preferred materials for producing distilled spirits. Different grains used in alcohol production yield different characteristics. For example, wheat produces a rough texture, glutinous rice produces a soft and delicate texture, polished rice produces a clean flavor, corn produces a sweet taste, and sorghum produces a fragrant aroma.

Certain grains pose challenges in alcohol production due to their composition. Wheat, barley, and legumes have high protein content, which can lead to excessive growth of bacteria during fermentation, resulting in unpleasant flavors. Glutinous rice and buckwheat have high stickiness, which can reduce the permeability of the fermentation mash and decrease fermentation efficiency. Rice, due to its high fat and cellulose content, can also affect the taste of the resulting liquor. Corn, on the other hand, tends to have a higher sweetness due to its high phytic acid content, and its higher fat content can result in off-flavors.

Other ingredients such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, and cassava have low protein and fat content but high pectin content, which can promote the growth of bacteria and affect the taste.

Sorghum stands out as an ideal material for brewing due to its high starch content, balanced proportions of fat and protein, and favorable fermentation that produces pleasant aromas without generating off-flavors.

In ancient times, the cultivation of grains served the purpose of making alcohol rather than being consumed as food for sustenance. As a result, the culture of Chinese spirits flourished in ancient times. Various grains such as sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, peas, corn, wheat, barley, and buckwheat, as well as tubers like sweet potatoes and potatoes, were used as raw materials for brewing, expanding the variety of available ingredients.

The essential condition for brewing is the raw material. Historical records and archaeological findings indicate that in the pre-Qin period, alcohol was primarily brewed using grains and occasionally with fruits and vegetables. The demand for specific raw materials for brewing can be seen in ancient texts. For example, “Li Ji” mentions “rice and sorghum must be provided,” and “Zhou Li” records: “The king’s offerings include the six grains, the food includes the six animals, and the drinks include the six types of clear liquors.”

Archaeological findings have revealed pottery jars with white sediment in Zhengzhou Shangcheng, indicating the use of grains or fruits for brewing. In another excavation at Shang Dynasty’s Luo Mountain Tianhu cemetery in Henan, a well-sealed bronze you vessel was discovered with a liquid that emitted a fragrance. Chromatographic analysis showed the presence of ethyl formate, indicating the production of a richly aromatic liquor.

Archaeologists frequently uncover ancient liquor during excavations of pre-Qin sites, indicating that people in ancient times brewed alcohol using various grains and fruits. This suggests a relatively diverse lifestyle during that period.

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:

Rice Wine.

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.

Shaoxing Wine.

Shaoxing Wine 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.

Maotai Baijiu.

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.

how to make Chinese alcohol?

Making Chinese alcohol, particularly traditional Chinese liquor (baijiu), involves a specific process. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make Chinese alcohol:

Select the Raw Materials: The main ingredient for Chinese liquor is typically sorghum, but other grains like rice, wheat, or corn can also be used. Choose high-quality grains free from impurities.

Steaming or Cooking: If using grains like sorghum or rice, they are usually steamed or cooked to gelatinize the starches. This process makes it easier for enzymes to convert the starches into fermentable sugars.

Prepare Qu (Starter Culture): Qu is a mixture of beneficial molds, yeasts, and bacteria that is used to initiate fermentation and contribute to the flavor profile of the liquor. Qu can be obtained from a previous batch of fermented grains or purchased from specialized suppliers.

Mixing the Ingredients: Mix the steamed or cooked grains with water and allow them to cool to a suitable temperature for fermentation. The ratio of grains to water depends on the desired alcohol content and the specific recipe.

Inoculation with Qu: Add the qu starter culture to the mixture of grains and water. Thoroughly mix to ensure even distribution of the starter culture.

Fermentation: Transfer the mixture to fermentation vessels, such as earthenware jars or stainless steel tanks. The vessels should be sealed but allow for the release of carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. Fermentation typically takes place in a controlled environment at a specific temperature. The duration of fermentation can vary from days to several weeks, depending on the desired flavor and alcohol content.

Distillation: After fermentation, the fermented mash is ready for distillation. Distillation separates the alcohol from the liquid by heating the mash and collecting the vapor. Traditional Chinese liquor is typically distilled using a pot still. Distillation occurs in multiple stages, with the collected alcohol being re-distilled to increase purity. Different fractions of the distillate are collected to achieve the desired flavor profile.

Aging: Some Chinese liquors undergo an aging process to further develop their flavors. The distilled liquor is stored in ceramic jars or wooden barrels for a period, allowing it to mature and mellow. Aging times can range from several months to many years.

It’s important to note that making Chinese alcohol, especially traditional Chinese liquor, requires specialized knowledge, equipment, and expertise. The process described here provides a general overview, but variations and specific techniques can differ depending on the type of Chinese alcohol being produced. It is also essential to comply with safety and legal regulations governing alcohol production in your region.

make alcohol in ancient china

As early as over 3,000 years ago, ancient Chinese people discovered a material called “jiu qu” (fermentation starter) that could produce sweet and aromatic alcohol with a long-lasting aftertaste. For thousands of years, jiu qu has been the secret to brewing Chinese liquor. However, not many people today truly understand how our ancestors made such fine wines. Even Xiaochi Net’s Xiao 7, who is a wine lover, enjoys a small sip of vinegar before bedtime, and Xiao 7’s family is also fond of alcohol. Their grandmother is a loyal fan of rice wine.

In March 1999, the archaeological excavation of Shuijingfang revealed the complete process of ancient Chinese wine production.

The first step in making wine for the Chinese was to steam or cook the grains. The steamed grains were mixed with jiu qu, and after cooking, they became more conducive to fermentation. In the traditional process, the semi-cooked grains were spread on the ground, which was the second step of brewing—stirring, adding ingredients, piling up, and initiating the initial fermentation. The ground used for drying the grains had a specific name, called “liang tang” (drying platform). The Shuijingfang site excavated three liang tangs that overlapped each other. The soil pit next to the liang tangs was the wine cellar site, resembling giant wine vats buried in the ground. Shuijingfang uncovered eight wine cellar pits, where the inner walls and bottoms were coated with pure yellow clay, with a thickness ranging from 8 to 25 centimeters.

The wine cellar was the third step of wine production, where the raw materials underwent further fermentation.

The fermented mash in the cellar still had a low alcohol content, so it required further distillation and condensation to obtain high alcohol content baijiu. The traditional process used a distillation apparatus known as “tian guo” (celestial pot) to complete this step.

During the excavation, archaeologists discovered a peculiar circular structure from the Qing Dynasty, which, at first glance, resembled a well. After investigation, it was confirmed as the earliest physical evidence of distillation in China. In those days, a large celestial pot was placed on the pedestal, with two layers: the lower pot contained the fermented mash, and the upper pot contained cold water. The firewood burned vigorously on the pedestal, steaming the fermented mash. The alcohol-containing gas was cooled by the cold water on top, condensing into liquid and flowing out through the pipes. This was the process of distillation.

Based on this, it was inferred that during the Qing Dynasty, the production here was indeed for distillation, and the technology was already very close to modern brewing techniques. Experts analyzed the microorganisms in several old fermentation pits at Shuijingfang and isolated red yeast and koji mold. The archaeological evidence from Shuijingfang confirmed that China had a mature distillation technique as early as the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.

Chinese distilled liquor is categorized into different types, such as strong aroma, light aroma, and sauce aroma. The liquor produced by Shuijingfang belongs to the strong aroma type, which is the most widely distributed type of Chinese distilled liquor. Its most distinctive characteristic in brewing techniques is the use of mud pits, making it a unique category in Chinese brewing techniques. Its place of origin is the Chengdu Plain and Sichuan Basin, where excellent strong aroma liquor can be produced.

Due to the limited area currently excavated, the deeper layers below the third level have not been extensively explored. Therefore, there may still be earlier relics and sites buried beneath the site. The truth about the abandonment and use of different historical layers may be revealed in future excavations, providing a more reasonable explanation.

Making Rice Wine in Winter:

First, soak the rice in water for about four to five hours, then steam it. After steaming, spread it out to cool. Crush the jiu qu and layer it with the rice in a container, one layer of rice followed by one layer of jiu qu (the amount of jiu qu will be indicated when you purchase it). After compacting, cover it with a cotton quilt and let it sit for a day. Hairs will start to grow on the surface. Water the hairs with sweet wine to disperse them fully. After another day, the sweet wine will be ready.

Making Grape Wine in Summer:

Soak the grapes in a weak saltwater solution for an hour, then drain the water. Crush the grapes one by one and add sugar in a ratio of 10:1 (adjust the sugar amount according to personal preference). Place the crushed grapes and sugar in a large-mouthed bottle. Let it sit for twenty days, and it will naturally ferment into 100% grape wine. The grape residue on top, sediment at the bottom, and the middle part are the wine. Use a thin tube to extract the middle part and transfer it to another bottle for consumption. The color and taste will be the same as commercially available grape wine—aromatic and transparent.

Red Grape Wine:


Select good quality red grapes and wash them with clean water. Then, use a clean cloth or sterilized tissue to dry the surface of the grapes (make sure they are completely dry).

Choose a larger container and place the dried grapes in it.

Add an appropriate amount of rock sugar (must use rock sugar). The amount of sugar can be adjusted according to personal taste.

Seal the container tightly. Store it at room temperature, preferably in a dark place. After one week, when there is grape juice, it can be consumed.

styles Chinese alcoholic

Chinese alcoholic beverages encompass a wide range of styles and types. Here are some popular styles of Chinese alcohol:

Baijiu : Baijiu is the most famous and widely consumed Chinese liquor. It is a strong distilled spirit typically made from grains such as sorghum, rice, wheat, or corn. Baijiu can have a variety of flavors, including strong aroma, light aroma, sauce aroma, and rice aroma. Each style has its unique characteristics and production methods.

Huangjiu : Huangjiu, also known as Chinese rice wine, is a traditional fermented alcoholic beverage. It is made from rice, water, and a starter culture called jiuqu. Huangjiu can be categorized into several types based on the production method and aging process. Some popular types include Shaoxing rice wine, Mijiu, and Jiafanjiu.

Maotai : Maotai is a renowned variety of baijiu produced in the town of Maotai in Guizhou province. It is considered one of the highest quality and most expensive baijiu brands in China. Maotai has a distinct aroma and is often associated with formal occasions and special celebrations.

Erguotou : Erguotou is a type of baijiu that originated in Beijing. It is a strong liquor with a high alcohol content and a mellow flavor. Erguotou is often enjoyed as a popular choice for everyday drinking and is commonly found in Beijing’s local bars and restaurants.

Fenjiu : Fenjiu is a type of baijiu produced in Shanxi province. It has a history dating back more than 1,000 years. Fenjiu is known for its mild aroma and smooth taste. It is often served at banquets and special occasions in northern China.

Wuliangye : Wuliangye is a famous brand of baijiu originating from Yibin in Sichuan province. It is made from a blend of five different grains, including sorghum, rice, corn, wheat, and barley. Wuliangye is highly regarded for its rich aroma and complex flavor profile.

These are just a few examples of the diverse styles of Chinese alcohol. Each region in China may have its own unique traditional alcoholic beverages, often with distinct production methods and flavor profiles.

what is the most popular alcoholic drink in China?

The most popular alcoholic drink in China is baijiu. Baijiu is a strong distilled spirit that has been a traditional Chinese liquor for centuries. It is widely consumed and deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. Baijiu is produced throughout the country, and its popularity extends to various social gatherings, business meetings, and celebratory occasions.

Baijiu holds a significant market share in the Chinese alcohol industry, accounting for a substantial portion of alcohol sales in the country. It is enjoyed by people of different ages and backgrounds. While there are various styles and brands of baijiu available, the strong aroma (sometimes referred to as “strong fragrance” or “strong aroma”) and light aroma baijiu are the most commonly consumed types.

It’s worth noting that the popularity of specific alcoholic beverages can vary among different regions and demographics within China. Regional preferences and cultural factors may influence the drink choices of individuals in different parts of the country.

history of alcohol in China

China has a 5,000-year history of civilization, and the history of alcohol spans approximately 4,000 years. From the initial murky and tasteless turbid wine to the clear and rich baijiu we have today, the Chinese people have created a historical legacy in the realm of alcohol.

Birth of Alcohol:

In the early years of the Xia Dynasty, Yi Di used mulberry leaves to ferment rice into a drink called “jiu,” which was a type of rice wine offered as a tribute to Yu the Great, the legendary flood-control hero of ancient China. Unfortunately, after tasting the drink, Yu the Great did not appreciate its wonders and found it to be intoxicating, concluding that it was not a good thing.

It wasn’t until the reign of Shaokang, the sixth monarch of the Xia Dynasty, that the brewing method for making Shujiu (a type of clear wine made from high-glutinous millet) was created. Shaokang is revered as the “founder of winemaking.” The Shuowen Jiezi, an ancient Chinese dictionary, records: “Shaokang began making Shujiu. Also known as Shaokang, the ruler of the Xia Dynasty.”

Standardizing Wine Etiquette:

After the birth of alcohol, it was primarily used for sacrificial ceremonies. However, during the Shang Dynasty, the custom of drinking alcohol became widespread, and the last ruler of the Shang Dynasty, King Zhou of Shang, even indulged in excessive drinking and debauchery.

Following the downfall of the Shang Dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty learned from this lesson and began to strictly regulate alcohol. Ji Dan, the younger brother of King Wu of Zhou, issued the first alcohol prohibition called the “Jiu Gao” (Proclamation on Alcohol). It clearly defined when one could not drink, when one could drink, and how to drink.

Unfortunately, during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods that followed the collapse of the Western Zhou Dynasty, a decline in ritual and music occurred, and the custom of feasting and drinking among the feudal lords once again prevailed.


Popularization of Winemaking:

The Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties lasted for approximately 1,800 years, during which time the main fermentation agents for winemaking were koji and sprouts. Koji refers to moldy grains, while sprouts refer to moldy sprouted grains. Wine fermented with koji was called “jiu,” while that fermented with sprouts was called “li.”

After the end of the Warring States period and the establishment of the Qin Dynasty, koji fermentation became mainstream, and sprout fermentation gradually faded away due to its low efficiency in winemaking.

With the improvement of winemaking efficiency and the evolution of techniques over thousands of years, winemaking began to spread among the common people during the Qin and Han Dynasties. Many ordinary people made a living by brewing their own private wine. In the Western Han Dynasty, in a place called Qionglai in Sichuan, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Zhuo Wenjun, eloped with Sima Xiangru because of a poem he wrote called “Phoenix Seeking Phoenix.” To make a living, the couple opened a tavern, with Wenjun selling wine at the counter while Xiangru washed wine utensils in the backyard.

Upgrade of Wine Quality:

During the Three Kingdoms period and the Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern Dynasties, wine fermentation techniques underwent a significant upgrade. Jia Sixie, an outstanding agriculturalist during the Northern Wei and Eastern Wei dynasties, wrote a book called “Qimin Yaoshu,” which systematically recorded the brewing process, qu fermentation techniques, and more.

The upgrading of wine quality led to its increased popularity and became a vessel for personal emotions. Wang Xizhi of the Eastern Jin Dynasty famously wrote the first masterpiece of calligraphy, “Preface to the Orchid Pavilion,” while under the influence of alcohol. The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove also gathered in a bamboo grove to escape political troubles and enjoyed drinking and revelry.


Drinking Culture among the Masses:

During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the culture of taverns thrived, and they were found everywhere. People would gather in taverns for drinking and entertainment after the curfew at night, and drinking games gradually became popular.

The Tang Dynasty reached a peak in terms of widespread drinking culture, as poet Liu Yuxi exclaimed, “There is no one who does not sell wine, and there is nowhere one does not hear music.” Alcohol also inspired countless literary and artistic works. It is estimated that out of the existing over 40,000 Tang poems, nearly 7,000 are related to alcohol, with Du Fu contributing around 300 of them.

During the Song Dynasty, private brewing became highly developed. Su Shi, also known as Su Dongpo, was a master of private brewing and even wrote a book called “The Eastern Slope Wine Classic.” However, the quality of private-brewed wine never matched that of official-brewed wine, but it was cheaper and still enjoyable.


Era of Distilled Spirits:

Before the appearance of distilled spirits, the alcohol consumed by ancient people was primarily rice wine, which was categorized based on alcohol content into high-quality yellow wine, medium-grade green wine, and low-grade turbid wine. With the maturation of brewing techniques, the transition gradually occurred from low-alcohol turbid wine to yellow wine.

The Yuan Dynasty marked the most significant turning point in Chinese alcohol, as it expanded its territory and engaged in exchanges with the West. Distillation methods were introduced, and they combined with grain wine to produce clear and rich distilled spirits, shaking the traditional fermentation-based alcohol industry.

Different periods of distilled spirits:

Before the Song Dynasty, “distilled spirits” referred to the method of heating fermented wine to deactivate and sterilize it.

After the Yuan Dynasty, “distilled spirits” generally referred to distilled wine, including grape spirits and grain spirits.

After the Ming Dynasty, the term “distilled spirits” specifically referred to grain distilled spirits.


Era of Sorghum Liquor:

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, in order to control flooding, the imperial court ordered the widespread cultivation of sorghum. Sorghum, with its strong vitality and resistance, was not suitable for consumption as food but proved to be ideal for producing strong liquor. As a result, the raw material for producing distilled spirits gradually shifted from rice to sorghum.

Although sorghum liquor had already been developed during the Yuan Dynasty, it only became popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. However, it did not become the mainstream choice until before the Republic of China era. Traditional rice wine (yellow wine), which had been passed down for thousands of years, was dominant, especially in affluent regions such as Jiangsu and Zhejiang, where Huangjiu, Niangjiu, and Zhuangyuanhong were the mainstream rice wines.

Sorghum liquor, on the other hand, gained popularity among the common people in relatively poor regions. Distilled sorghum liquor, with its purified alcohol content, was more stimulating, invigorating, had better warming effects, and was easier to store. It offered high cost-effectiveness.

Era of Baijiu:

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, through the transformation of socialist public ownership, private brewing workshops were all taken over and turned into state-owned enterprises. They were then organized into local distilleries. After decades of development, Chinese baijiu has reached its present state, characterized by “a hundred flowers blooming, a hundred schools of thought contending.”

However, it is important to note the distinction. In ancient times, “baijiu” referred to rice wine. Before modern times, Chinese baijiu had various names based on production methods, appearance, raw materials, or color. It was called huojiu, jiu lu, han jiu, qi jiu, shao jiu, shao dao, bai gan, among others. Among them, “shao jiu” was the most commonly used name.

It was not until the 1950s that grain distillate was defined as baijiu. This term became the standardized industry language after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It should be distinguished from the ancient term for distilled spirits.

did china invent alcohol?

The exact origins of alcohol production are difficult to determine with certainty, as alcoholic beverages have been produced and consumed by various cultures throughout history. However, China has a long history of alcohol production, and it is considered one of the earliest regions where the production of alcoholic beverages was developed.

There is evidence to suggest that early forms of alcohol production existed in China as far back as the Neolithic period, around 7000-6600 BCE. Archaeological discoveries, such as pottery jars with residue consistent with fermented beverages, indicate the presence of early alcoholic drinks in China.

The discovery of a 9,000-year-old site in Jiahu, Henan Province, revealed pottery jars containing a fermented beverage made from rice, honey, and fruit. This finding is significant because it predates the development of agriculture in the region, suggesting that alcohol production may have played a role in the transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agricultural communities.

China has a rich tradition of brewing various types of alcoholic beverages, including rice wine, millet wine, and sorghum-based spirits. The brewing techniques and technologies in China have been refined and developed over thousands of years, resulting in a diverse range of traditional alcoholic beverages.

While it is challenging to attribute the invention of alcohol to a specific culture or region, China’s long history of alcohol production and its significant contributions to brewing techniques make it an important part of the global history of alcoholic beverages.

who invented ancient Chinese alcohol?

Regarding the question of who invented alcohol in China, there is no definitive answer, but there are several theories:

Heavenly Creation Theory:

Since ancient times, there has been a belief in China that alcohol was created by the “Star of Wine” in the heavens. In ancient poetry, phrases like “Star of Wine” or “Wine Flag” are often used. For example, the famous poet Li Bai wrote in his poem “Drinking Alone under the Moon”: “If Heaven does not love wine, why is the Wine Star in the sky?” Kong Rong, a scholar during the late Eastern Han Dynasty, described himself as someone who always had guests and never ran out of wine in his poem “Drinking with Qin King,” which includes the line “Pouring wine from the dragon’s head, inviting the Wine Star.” In Dou Ping’s “Jiu Pu” (Book of Wine), it is also mentioned that wine is the work of the “Star of Wine.” The discovery and recording of the Wine Flag Star is considered one of the achievements of ancient Chinese astronomy. It demonstrates the rich imagination of our ancestors and proves that wine held a significant place in social and daily life activities at that time.

Monkey Creation Theory:

There are many records in Chinese literature that monkeys can “make” alcohol. Li Rihua, a scholar from the Ming Dynasty, recorded in his writings: “The Huangshan mountains are filled with monkeys. In spring and summer, they collect various flowers and fruits in stone pits, where they ferment and produce alcohol, releasing a fragrant aroma that can be smelled from a hundred steps away. Some woodcutters who live deep in the mountains manage to steal a drink, but they shouldn’t have too much, as excessive consumption will diminish the traces of alcohol, and if discovered, the monkeys will kill them.” These various records indicate that something similar to “alcohol” was discovered in places where monkeys gather. Alcohol is a fermented food product produced by the decomposition of sugars by microorganisms called yeast. Yeast is a widely distributed type of fungus, and in the vast nature, there are various fruits, especially those with higher sugar content, where yeast can easily thrive. Fruits with high sugar content are important food sources for monkeys. When ripe fruits fall down, they naturally undergo fermentation due to the action of yeast on the fruit skin or in the air, resulting in the liquid form of “alcohol.” Monkeys unknowingly “create” alcohol by collecting and storing large quantities of ripe fruits in “stone pits” where the accumulated fruits undergo fermentation and the liquid form of “alcohol” is produced. The fact that monkeys can unintentionally “make” alcohol is logical and reasonable.

Yidi’s Invention Theory:

According to legend, Yidi, during the reign of Emperor Yu of the Xia Dynasty, invented brewing. In the 2nd century BCE, the historical book “The Annals of Lü Buwei” stated, “Yidi made wine.” Liu Xiang’s “Strategies of the Warring States” from the Han Dynasty also mentioned that Yidi, the daughter of Emperor Yu, was appointed to oversee the brewing of wine. After her efforts, she brewed a wine with a good taste and presented it to Emperor Yu for tasting. Emperor Yu enjoyed the wine but believed that excessive drinking could lead to the downfall of future rulers, so he distanced himself from her. This account has been passed down through the ages, and people highly respect Emperor Yu, considering him a principled and enlightened ruler who detested alcohol, while Yidi is depicted as a sycophant. Some scholars believe that brewing alcohol from grains is a complex process and cannot be accomplished by an individual alone. Yidi may have been a skilled brewer or an official overseeing the brewing process. He may have summarized the experiences of his predecessors and improved the brewing methods, ultimately producing high-quality wine. Guo Moruo also holds this view, stating, “It is said that Yidi, a minister under Emperor Yu, began brewing, which refers to wine that is sweeter and stronger than the wine of the primitive society.”

Dukang’s Invention Theory:

Dukang, as recorded in “Records of the Grand Historian,” was a ruler during the Xia Dynasty and is considered the legendary “ancestor of brewing” in ancient China. “Shuowen Jiezi,” a dictionary from the Han Dynasty, states, “Dukang first made grain wine. Also known as Shaokang, he was the ruler of the Xia Dynasty.” Due to Dukang’s skill in brewing, he was revered as the god of wine by future generations, and the brewing industry honored him as the ancestor. In later times, the term “Dukang” became synonymous with alcohol. There is debate about the historical period in which Dukang lived. Online sources mention three possibilities: First, Dukang was a minister during the time of the Yellow Emperor. Second, Dukang was the sixth ruler of the Xia Dynasty, also known as Shaokang. Third, Dukang lived during the Han Dynasty. In the Three Kingdoms period, Cao Cao wrote the famous poem “Short Song Style,” which includes the line, “How can one resolve worries? Only with Dukang.” This line highly praises the wonderful effects of Dukang’s wine. The history of alcohol production in ancient China is a long and significant one, involving contributions from many individuals. However, Dukang represents a certain aspect, and in a sense, the legendary wine god Dukang represents the spirit of civilization, scientific innovation, and originality of ancient Chinese people.

Origin of Distilled Liquor

The earliest form of alcohol in China was Huangjiu, also known as fermented or brewed liquor, which does not involve distillation. It was later followed by the development of distilled liquor, known as Chinese baijiu, which is associated with the invention of distillation equipment. Some believe that distillation was present during the Eastern Han Dynasty since bronze distillation apparatuses existed during that period. Others argue that the term “burnt wine” mentioned in poems by Bai Juyi and other poets refers to distilled liquor. The Song Dynasty’s “Dan Fang Xu Zhi” describes a distillation apparatus called the “mercury pump,” and Zhou Qufei’s “Ling Wai Dai Da” from the Southern Song Dynasty records the utensils used by people in Guangxi for distilling “silver vermilion.” Based on these records, some argue that distilled liquor may have originated during the Song Dynasty. The historical evidence of the appearance of documented baijiu, however, points to the Yuan Dynasty. Li Shizhen wrote in his “Compendium of Materia Medica” during the Ming Dynasty: “Burnt wine is not an ancient method; it was created during the Yuan Dynasty.” Tan Cui’s “Dian Hai Yu Heng Zhi” from the Qing Dynasty states: “The name for burnt wine is Wine Dew, which was introduced to China at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty. Chinese people drink burnt wine everywhere.”

when was the first Chinese alcohol?

The origin of alcohol in China is believed to date back to the ancient times of the Three Sovereigns, particularly the earliest of them, Fuxi, as mentioned in mythical legends. This is considered credible evidence by the discovery of pottery vessels with the shape of the character “酉” (meaning “to make wine” in ancient context), resembling oracle bone script and bronze inscriptions, unearthed from the Banpo Village site near Xi’an, which dates back approximately 7,000 years.

The initial form of alcohol was not intentionally produced but rather discovered unintentionally through the natural fermentation of grains or fruits. Jiang Tong provided a specific explanation, stating that leftover rice was poured in shady and moist areas like mulberry groves, which resulted in starch undergoing saccharification and alcohol fermentation. This account objectively reflects the accumulation and prolonged storage of grains or fruits, which eventually transform into wine. It helps demystify the process of brewing by emphasizing the factual aspects of the transformation of stored food into alcohol.

Therefore, it can be concluded that alcohol in China originated from the natural fermentation of grains and fruits, and the exact inventors or discoverers cannot be attributed to specific individuals but rather to the ancient Chinese people’s observation and experimentation with their environment.

where are the first Chinese alcohol?

Archaeological excavations of the Longshan Culture have provided evidence that specialized utensils for brewing and drinking alcohol existed as early as 2800-2300 BCE. Following the liberation, a wine-drinking site from the Shang Dynasty was discovered in Erli Gang, Zhengzhou, and a relatively intact brewing workshop was found in Taixi Village, Gaocheng County, Hebei Province.

In December 1987, at the Tianhu Shang Dynasty Tomb site in Mangzhang Township, Luoshan, in the southeastern part of Henan Province, the earliest preserved ancient wine in China was discovered. It was contained within a bronze vessel and was well-preserved and sealed.

Please note that while I have provided a translation of the information you provided, it’s important to verify the specific details and accuracy of archaeological findings through scholarly sources.

why did the Chinese invent alcohol?

The invention of alcohol in China was not a deliberate or intentional act, but rather a natural discovery that occurred as a result of the fermentation process. Ancient Chinese civilizations had a deep understanding of agricultural practices, including the cultivation of grains and fruits. Over time, they observed that when certain grains or fruits were left in a moist and warm environment, they would naturally undergo a transformation and produce a fermented liquid.

The early Chinese likely stumbled upon this fermentation process accidentally, perhaps by leaving grains or fruits in containers or in natural environments for an extended period. They would have noticed that the resulting liquid had different properties, such as a distinct taste and intoxicating effects. This discovery of alcohol was significant as it provided a new way to utilize surplus grains and fruits, and it also played a role in religious and social rituals.

It’s important to note that the invention of alcohol was not unique to China, as various cultures around the world independently discovered fermentation and developed their own alcoholic beverages. The invention of alcohol in China was a product of ancient civilizations’ observations and experimentation with natural processes, combined with their agricultural knowledge and practices.

what are the reasons alcohol was invented in china?

The invention of alcohol in China can be attributed to several factors and reasons. Here are some possible reasons why alcohol was invented in China:

Agricultural abundance: China has a long history of agricultural development, with a wide variety of crops cultivated, including grains like rice, millet, and wheat, as well as fruits like grapes and plums. The surplus of these agricultural products provided an opportunity for experimentation and exploration of different ways to utilize the harvest.

Food preservation: In ancient times, fermentation was one of the methods used to preserve food. By fermenting grains or fruits into alcohol, they could be stored for longer periods, providing a valuable food source during times of scarcity or for long journeys.

Medicinal purposes: Traditional Chinese medicine has a rich history and often incorporated the use of herbal remedies and natural substances. Alcohol was believed to have medicinal properties and was used as a component in various herbal preparations for its perceived therapeutic effects.

Cultural and social practices: Alcohol played a significant role in various cultural and social practices in ancient China. It was used in religious ceremonies, ancestor worship, social gatherings, and hospitality. It became an integral part of social interactions, celebrations, and rites of passage.

Exploration and curiosity: Like many other inventions, the discovery of alcohol may have been a result of human curiosity and experimentation. Ancient Chinese civilizations observed natural fermentation processes and experimented with different ingredients and techniques, leading to the development of various alcoholic beverages.

It’s important to note that the invention of alcohol in China was not driven by a single reason but rather a combination of factors influenced by the agricultural practices, cultural beliefs, and the pursuit of culinary and medicinal advancements of ancient Chinese civilizations.

how was ancient Chinese alcohol made?

According to historical records, it is known that the brewing industry was highly developed during the Yin Dynasty (Shang Dynasty). The people of Yin had a strong fondness for alcohol, which also contributed to the advancement of the brewing industry. The excessive drinking habits of the ruling class in the Yin Dynasty were believed to have led to the downfall of the state, as mentioned in the “Shang Shu” (Book of Documents), “Shang Shu” (Book of Wine Decrees), and “Shi” (Poetry) in the “Da Ya” (Great Odes) section.

The inscriptions on the Western Zhou bronze vessel, the “Da Yu Ding,” analyze that the downfall of the Yin Dynasty was due to excessive drinking. Numerous types and quantities of bronze wine vessels from the Yin Dynasty have been excavated, which also serves as evidence of the prevalence of alcohol consumption among the people of the Yin Dynasty, particularly the ruling class. Brewing and its related industries were highly developed during this period.

The brewers in the palace of the Shang Dynasty gradually understood and mastered the principles of brewing and invented the method of using koji (a type of mold) to brew alcohol. According to the analysis of oracle bone inscriptions, the Yin Dynasty primarily used broomcorn millet as the main ingredient and employed “niao” (translated as koji) for the saccharification and fermentation to produce sweet wine called “li” and fragrant wine called “chang.”

The use of “koji” is mentioned in the “Shang Shu” and “Li Ji” (Book of Rites). The “Shang Shu” states, “If you want to make wine, you must use koji.” The term “koji” is explained in the “Shuo Wen Jie Zi” as “wine mother.”

The term “niao” refers to germinated grains that contain saccharifying enzymes, which facilitate the hydrolysis of starch into glucose through chemical changes. Our ancestors used this method to produce maltose (malt sugar) for a long time. During the Yin and Zhou Dynasties, this principle was utilized as the first step in the brewing process. The wine produced using this method was a sweet wine with a light flavor and was no longer produced later on.

“In ancient times, koji was used to make alcohol, and germinated grains were used to make sweet wine. In later generations, people disliked the light flavor of sweet wine, and it eventually fell out of favor, leading to the loss of the germination method.” From an external perspective, koji resembles starch blocks. It mainly consists of filamentous fungi and yeast with high saccharification and fermentation abilities. The use of koji advanced the ancient brewing techniques in China and was a significant achievement in the utilization of microorganisms.

The use of koji acted as a catalyst for both starch saccharification and fermentation, simplifying the brewing process and directly transforming grains into alcohol through chemical changes. This method is now known as “complex fermentation.” The “Zuo Zhuan” also mentions “mai qu” (wheat koji). The discovery of koji was a turning point in the practical observations and summarization of our ancestors, marking a significant milestone in the history of brewing.

Since then, the production of alcohol in China has been closely associated with koji. The improvement of the variety and quality of alcohol in later generations was primarily achieved through the reform and development of alcohol koji production techniques. However, regardless of the improvements, alcohol koji remains an essential part of the brewing process. Archaeological excavations in Shang Dynasty sites have discovered examples of koji, such as a relatively complete brewery found in the Shang site of Taixicun, Gaocheng, Hebei Province.

At this brewery site, a set of brewing utensils was found, including urns, jars, vessels, pots for storing and serving alcohol, large-mouthed jars for storing brewing ingredients, and funnels for pouring the liquid. The “Zhou Li” records, “The king’s food includes the six grains, the meals include the six domesticated animals, and the drinks include the six pure liquids…” The “six pure liquids” refer to the clear wines brewed from rice, broomcorn millet, and glutinous millet, including the lees-based wine.

During the Zhou Dynasty, the people of Zhou, based on the different tastes obtained from brewing with different grains, had accumulated long-term experience and learned to use different grains for brewing. This was an expression of the advancement in brewing techniques. During the Zhou Dynasty, the royal court had specialized officials responsible for brewing, such as the “jiu zheng” (liquor master), “jiang ren” (yeast master), “da qiu” (chief brewer), and “jiu guan” (liquor official). The “Li Ji” provides a comprehensive summary of brewing experiences.

“It is the responsibility of the chief brewer to ensure that the millets and rice are of good quality, the koji is timely, the fire is clean, the water is fragrant, the pottery is of good quality, and the fire temperature is well-controlled. The chief brewer must carefully oversee the use of the six elements without any negligence.” Here, all the aspects that should be considered in the brewing process are mentioned.

The alcohol produced by these methods was divided into three categories: “shi jiu” (ordinary wine), which may be unfiltered regular wine; “xi jiu” (aged wine), which could be aged lees wine; and “qing jiu” (clear wine), which was wine filtered to remove sediment. It is known that during the storage process, alcohol undergoes esterification due to chemical reactions caused by microorganisms, which enhances the aroma of the wine, commonly known as the fact that aged wine becomes more fragrant.

The name “xi jiu” during the Zhou Dynasty indicates that the Zhou people already had the experience of studying and appreciating “aged cellar” wines. In 1974, two wine pots were unearthed from the tomb of the Zhongshan State in the Warring States period in Hebei Province, and the fragrance of the wine still remains to this day. According to preliminary analysis, these wines contain not only alcohol but also more than ten other components such as sugar and fat. They are a type of koji-brewed wine, which is invaluable material evidence for studying the history of brewing industry in China and even the world.

what was alcohol used for in ancient China?

Alcohol played a significant role in the cultural and social life of ancient civilizations, serving as an essential spiritual nourishment. It served various purposes and held multiple meanings, including social interaction, medicinal use, religious rituals, and emotional solace. Let’s explore the cultural value of alcohol in ancient times together!

The Social Role of Alcohol in Ancient Times

Ancient people often said, “A thousand cups of wine are not too many when true friends meet.” This illustrates the importance of alcohol in the social life of ancient people. Alcohol could enhance relationships, eliminate unfamiliarity and alienation, and bring people closer together. Gathered around a table with drinks, friends could freely express themselves, engage in conversations, and find emotional satisfaction. Additionally, in certain ancient countries or ethnic groups, alcohol consumption was an essential part of major diplomatic activities or grand festive celebrations. For example, in feudal China, royal dynasties would host banquets to entertain guests during the New Year or significant holidays, and toasting was an important aspect of etiquette.

The Medicinal Use of Alcohol in Ancient Times

In traditional Chinese medicine, moderate alcohol consumption was believed to have therapeutic effects. Alcohol was thought to regulate the body’s qi and blood, promote blood circulation, and improve overall physical condition. It was also believed to aid digestion and relieve abdominal bloating and indigestion. In ancient times, many doctors and physicians included alcohol as one of the remedies for treating minor ailments such as flu, headaches, and stomach issues. However, it’s important to note that alcohol was only considered a treatment for minor illnesses and should not be misconstrued as a cure for diseases through excessive or long-term alcohol consumption.

The Ritual and Emotional Comforting Role of Alcohol in Ancient Times

Alcohol often played a significant role in various folk religions, traditional ceremonies, and rituals of ancient times. For instance, offering wine to deities was a common practice in ancient Chinese religious activities. Although this practice is gradually being phased out today, its cultural significance cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, alcohol consumption could provide emotional solace. In times of disappointment or distress, people in ancient times would often seek solace by consuming alcohol. The imagery of solitary drinking was also a prevalent theme in ancient poetry, such as Lu You’s “Observing the Pavilion from a Fishing Boat” and Li Bai’s “Drinking Alone under the Moon.” These works passionately depict the emotional expressions and personal emotional transformations that occur during drinking sessions.

Overall, alcohol in ancient times held cultural value as a means of social interaction, a medicinal remedy (in moderation), a component of religious rituals, and a source of emotional solace.

How did the ancient Chinese drink alcohol?

In ancient China, the consumption of alcohol was deeply ingrained in the culture and social life of the people. Here are some ways in which the ancient Chinese drank alcohol:

Drinking Vessels: The ancient Chinese used various types of drinking vessels to consume alcohol. These vessels included pottery or porcelain cups, bowls, and goblets, as well as bronze or silver wine vessels such as jue (a type of wine cup), guang (a tall stemmed cup), or zun (a ritual wine vessel). The choice of drinking vessel often reflected the social status and occasion.

Toasting: Toasting was an important ritual during gatherings and banquets in ancient China. When drinking together, people would raise their cups and make toasts to express goodwill, friendship, or respect. Toasting etiquette and the order of toasts were observed, and it was common for the host or the most respected person to initiate the toasting.

Banquets and Feasts: Banquets and feasts were occasions where alcohol was prominently consumed. These events were not only about the food but also included an abundance of alcoholic beverages. The host would often serve various types of wines and spirits, and guests would enjoy the drinks while engaging in conversations, entertainment, and performances.

Drinking Games: Drinking games were popular during social gatherings in ancient China. These games were designed to add fun and entertainment to the drinking experience. Examples of drinking games included guessing riddles, reciting poetry, or playing musical instruments, with the loser being required to drink a certain amount of alcohol as a penalty.

Ritual and Ceremonial Drinking: Alcohol played a significant role in various rituals and ceremonies in ancient China. It was offered as a libation to deities and ancestors during religious ceremonies and sacrifices. The rituals involved pouring wine into special vessels or cups, followed by prayers and offerings.

Drinking Etiquette: There were specific rules and etiquette associated with drinking in ancient China. Respect for elders and higher-ranking individuals was essential. It was customary to pour drinks for others, especially for guests or superiors, as a sign of hospitality and respect. Politeness, moderation, and maintaining composure while consuming alcohol were highly valued.

It’s important to note that while alcohol was widely consumed in ancient China, excessive drinking and alcohol abuse were not encouraged and were seen as undesirable behavior. Alcohol was regarded as a social lubricant, a means of forging relationships, and a symbol of hospitality, but moderation and adherence to social norms were emphasized.

Ancient drinking etiquette

Ancient drinking etiquette in China consisted of four main steps: “Bai” (salutation), “Ji” (offering), “Qiu” (tasting), and “Zu Jue” (bottoms up). The process involved showing respect by performing a salutation, pouring a small amount of wine on the ground as an offering to express gratitude to the earth’s bounty, tasting the wine and praising its flavor, and finally, drinking the wine in one gulp.

During a banquet, the host would offer wine to the guests (known as “Chou”), and the guests would reciprocate by offering wine to the host (known as “Zuo”). When offering a toast, it was customary to deliver a few words of appreciation or good wishes. Guests could also toast each other (known as “Lu Chou”), and sometimes a specific order would be followed to toast individuals (known as “Xing Jiu”). When offering a toast, both the person making the toast and the recipient would “avoid the seat” and stand up. Typically, three cups of wine were considered an appropriate amount for a toast.

During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, there were customs of singing songs and composing impromptu verses during drinking banquets. The game of “Tou Hu,” derived from archery rituals, evolved into a form of drinking game. During the Qin and Han dynasties, people composed impromptu verses at banquets, known as “Ji Xi Chang He,” and over time, this practice developed into various drinking games.

The Tang and Song dynasties represented a pinnacle in the development of Chinese game culture, including drinking games. By the Ming and Qing dynasties, drinking games reached another peak, with a wide variety of games available, encompassing topics such as worldly affairs, figures, flowers, trees, insects, birds, musical and poetic forms, dramas, novels, Chinese herbal medicine, seasonal customs, the Eight Trigrams, and dominoes. The scope of drinking games became extensive and diverse.

The earliest drinking games were primarily aimed at upholding the rules of etiquette at banquets and were a transformation, enrichment, and development of drinking customs. They served as an important means of enhancing the enjoyment and liveliness of banquets, blending culture with alcohol. In ancient times, there were even officials responsible for overseeing drinking games, known as “Li Zhi Jian” and “Zuo Zhu Shi.” These officials enforced the rules of drinking games, which aimed to restrict alcohol consumption rather than encourage excessive drinking.

Over time, as history progressed, drinking games gradually evolved into activities for entertainment and amusement during banquets. Some of the original etiquette elements were lost, and drinking games became more focused on lively interaction, competition, and even as a means of imposing penalties for drinking.


Modern Wine Etiquette

In contemporary gatherings and banquets, the phrase “ganbei” (cheers) is frequently heard. With the ganbei command, people raise their glasses, either sitting or standing, clink them together to make a sound, and then consume the entire contents. Anyone who refuses to drink faces the risk of being penalized with three additional glasses.

In fact, the tradition of ganbei is not a recent invention but has been part of ancient drinking etiquette. Its symbolism lies in the idea that whoever proposes the toast should drink first as a sign of respect and demonstrate that they have emptied their glass.

If there remains a single drop of wine in the glass, the penalty is to drink an additional glass. The person being toasted must respond in kind by offering a toast back.

At the dining table, it is common for young men to loudly exclaim, “Then I’ll drink first as a sign of respect!” followed by downing a glass in one go. This action unintentionally carries on the concept of “offering wine” from ancient wine etiquette. However, besides showing respect, the act of drinking first in ancient times had an even more significant meaning: to reassure the other person, “This wine is not poisoned, my friend, so rest assured and drink!”

Why did ancient Chinese prefer to drink warm wine?

In history, the concept of warming wine dates back to ancient times. Bronze wine vessels from the Shang and Zhou dynasties already included utensils for warming wine. In the Tang dynasty, poet Li Bai wrote in his work “Lidong”: “Ink freezes, and I’m too lazy to write new poems. The cold stove warms the delicious wine.” Similarly, Song dynasty poet Lu You wrote in his work “Spring Day”: “Late in the day, I taste boiled wine in the garden, accompanied by the gentle breeze in the courtyard,” both describing the scenes of boiling and warming wine.

In reality, the reason for warming wine stems from the fact that ancient brewing techniques were not very advanced, and most wines contained impurities, some of which were even harmful to the human body. By slightly heating the wine before drinking, these impurities could evaporate, reducing their impact on the body.

This concept is also described in the classic novel “Dream of the Red Chamber.” There, when Jia Baoyu was about to drink cold wine, Xue Baochai advised him, saying, “Baodi, with all the miscellaneous knowledge you learn daily, don’t you know that wine has a hot nature? It should be consumed warm so that it quickly disperses. If you drink it cold, it congeals inside, burdening your organs. Won’t that harm you? You should change this habit. Please stop drinking it cold,” highlighting the benefits of warm wine for one’s health.

Ancient Wine Utensils and Nobility

In ancient China, bronze vessels, especially those related to wine, accounted for a significant proportion in terms of variety and quantity.

For example, in the burial goods accompanying the “Fu Hao Tomb” in the Yin ruins, there were over 200 items, with wine vessels making up more than 70%, including jia, jue, gu, and he, among other types. This indicates that the aristocratic class of that time had a strong fondness for wine. During the Shang and Zhou periods, wine vessels not only had a wide variety but also displayed fine craftsmanship.

Rong Geng and Zhang Weizhi’s “A Comprehensive Discussion on Yin and Zhou Bronzes” classified the pre-Qin period wine vessels into three categories: vessels for boiling or warming wine, including jue, jia, gu, and he; vessels for containing wine, such as zun, gong, yi, you, and hu; and vessels for drinking wine, including gu and zhi.

The title “jue” used for ancient noble ranks corresponds to the hierarchy of wine vessels. The highest-ranking individuals used jue, which could hold one unit of wine; the next rank used zhou, which could hold two units of wine; the third rank used gu, which could hold three units of wine; the fourth rank used jiao, which could hold four units of wine; and the fifth rank used cups, which could hold five units of wine. The smaller the capacity of the wine vessel, the higher the status.

There was also a distinction in the containers used for serving wine. Vessels of rank three or higher used large zun, while others used large hu. Towards the end of the Spring and Autumn period, these elaborate wine ceremonies were simplified, and both common people and high-ranking officials used zhou or gu vessels.

The character “zun” is commonly used in modern Chinese to denote respect or nobility. However, in ancient times, “zun” also referred to a wine vessel, similar to a “zun.” The phrase “life is like a dream, offer a toast to the moon in a zun” mentions the “zun” as a wine vessel.

The use of “zun” began in the early Western Zhou period and generally had a round shape, while square zun had a square mouth and body. The Four Sheep Square Zun derived its prestigious name from its depiction of four sheep and four dragons facing each other, representing the supreme dignity of the wine ritual.

In the Guangdong Provincial Museum, there is a bronze he with dragon motifs from the Western Zhou period. It has an elegant shape, a solid form, intricate patterns, and fine craftsmanship, making it a treasured artifact of the museum.

So, what exactly is a he? It is a type of mixing vessel for wine, similar to the later Western-style punch bowl or cocktail shaker. Ancient people would mix wine and water in the he and then pour it into cups. The purpose was to control the concentration of the wine.


Why didn’t ancient cups have handles?

The reason lies in the concept of “etiquette.” Throughout Chinese culture, it has been considered impolite to use only one hand for tasks. In the context of wine etiquette, it was emphasized that drinking wine should be done with both hands holding the cup to signify solemnity and respect.

Additionally, ancient people paid great attention to the participants, timing, occasion, and manner of drinking. They believed that the best drinking companions should be refined, straightforward, and open-hearted confidants. The ideal drinking locations included beneath flowers, in bamboo groves, high pavilions, painted boats, secluded chambers, open fields, famous mountains, and lotus pavilions. The best times for drinking were in the clear autumn, amidst fresh greenery, after rain, amidst accumulated snow, under the new moon, or in the cool evening. Therefore, as drinking vessels, cups naturally pursued an aesthetic of elegance.

chinese drinking games

The drinking game you described is a traditional Chinese drinking custom known as “Jiu Ling.” It is a game played during a banquet or gathering to add entertainment. In this game, one person is selected as the “commander” or “master,” and the others take turns following the commander’s instructions to recite poetry, create word associations, or engage in similar activities. Those who fail to follow the instructions or lose the game are typically required to drink alcohol as a penalty. The person leading the game is also referred to as the “commander of drinks” or “commander of the banquet.”

Jiu Ling is a unique aspect of Chinese drinking culture. It has a long history, originating from the Western Zhou Dynasty and becoming more refined during the Sui and Tang Dynasties.


Jiu Ling emerged as a drinking game during banquets and was particularly popular among the literati. They often composed poems and writings to praise the game. The poet Bai Juyi wrote, “Drinking breaks the sorrows of spring; with wine, we pluck flower branches.” During the Han Dynasty, Jia Kui wrote a book titled “Jiu Ling” about drinking games. In the Qing Dynasty, Yu Xiaopei compiled a four-volume book called “Jiu Ling Cong Chao.”

Types of Jiu Ling:

Jiu Ling can be classified into “Ya Ling” (elegant commands) and “Tong Ling” (general commands). Ya Ling involves reciting poetry, creating couplets, and other activities where participants must follow the theme and style set by the initial command. Failure to do so results in a penalty of drinking. Ya Ling requires participants to be quick-witted, creative, and knowledgeable, as it showcases their literary talents.

Tong Ling involves dice rolling, drawing lots, finger guessing games, or number guessing. Tong Ling games create a lively atmosphere at banquets but can be perceived as crude, noisy, and lacking in sophistication.

Jiu Ling is not only about drinking but also includes activities like composing poems, solving riddles, and physical games. It requires participants to be quick-witted, talented in literature, and have a flair for creativity. Thus, Jiu Ling represents both the traditional hospitality of the Chinese and the culmination of their drinking artistry and intellectual abilities.

During the Wei and Jin Dynasties, literati and scholars enjoyed imitating ancient customs, engaging in leisurely activities, and indulging in the arts while drinking. These elegant forms of Jiu Ling, reminiscent of the pure and tranquil scenery of spring, went beyond simple penalties and included activities such as reciting poems. One popular variation involved sitting by a gently flowing stream, where literati and scholars composed poetry after drinking wine poured into a cup that floated downstream. The most famous example of this is the Lanting Gathering of the Nine Worthies in the ninth year of Emperor Mu of Jin’s Yonghe era (353 AD). It featured calligrapher Wang Xizhi and 41 other famous literati gathering in Lanxi, where they expressed their emotions and wrote numerous poems. Wang Xizhi’s famous calligraphy masterpiece, “Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Gathering,” was created during this event. However, in the folk traditions, Jiu Ling could be simplified to just drinking without the requirement of composing poetry.

Jiu Ling is a unique way for the Han Chinese to add liveliness and entertainment to their drinking gatherings. With its long history, Jiu Ling has evolved into various forms and styles. It originated as a means to maintain order at banquets and gradually transformed into a game of penalties. In ancient times, activities like archery contests, such as “yan she,” or “tou hu,” which involved throwing arrows into a pot, were popular methods of deciding winners and losers, with the losers being required to drink alcohol. Jiu Ling can be seen as a catalyst that enlivens the atmosphere of a banquet, especially when guests may not know each other well.

There are various ways to play Jiu Ling, ranging from simple to complex. The methods used by literati and scholars differ significantly from those used by ordinary people. Literati often engage in activities like reciting poetry, creating couplets, solving riddles, and more. Ordinary people commonly use simpler methods that require no preparation, such as the “same number” game, which is similar to rock-paper-scissors. Another popular game is “Pass the Flower with Drumming,” which involves passing a bouquet of flowers while a drum is beaten. When the drum stops, whoever is holding the bouquet must drink. If the bouquet lands between two people, they may use games like rock-paper-scissors to determine the loser. “Pass the Flower with Drumming” is suitable for people of all ages and is commonly played by women. This scene is vividly depicted in the novel “Dream of the Red Chamber.”

In conclusion, Jiu Ling is a unique drinking culture specific to the Han Chinese. Its various forms and styles have been passed down through generations.

how much alcohol in ancient Chinese wine?

Before the Yuan Dynasty, including up until the Southern Song Dynasty, the wine produced was mostly fermented wine with a maximum alcohol content of no more than 20%. Most of it was rice wine with an alcohol content below 10%, filtered after fermentation. That’s why there are poetic lines like “Li Bai fought (with) (ten liters) of wine, a hundred poems,” and “the new wine with green ants,” referring to low-alcohol content wine. Even the eighteen bowls of wine that Wu Song drank at Jingyang Ridge were below 20% alcohol content, perhaps around 10-15%.

Wine made from sprouted grains was called “li,” a sweet wine with low alcohol content. That’s why people in ancient times said, “The companionship of petty people is as sweet as li.” True wine was made using fermentation with yeast, resulting in higher alcohol content, ranging from approximately 10% to 18%. The taste of the wine varied due to different production methods. Both “li” and the wine of that time were types of yellow wine.

Wine made with yeast could only achieve an alcohol content of 10% to 18%. Ancient people once tried to use wine instead of water for the fermentation process to obtain a higher concentration, but it was not successful. Alcohol is a byproduct of yeast metabolism, and it has a certain inhibitory effect on yeast fermentation. When the alcohol content reaches around 10%, yeast reproduction ceases, and the fermentation process slows down. Even yeast strains with high alcohol tolerance cannot exceed 18% alcohol content. So, even with secondary fermentation using wine instead of water, higher alcohol content cannot be achieved.

During the Yuan Dynasty, distilled liquor, also known as “burnt liquor,” emerged. It involved distilling the wine fermented with yeast to obtain a higher alcohol content, typically around 50%. This is more similar to the alcohol content of modern liquor. If you want to experience it, you can visit a small town in the northern regions, preferably in Shanxi, and try a drink called “Liang Mao Shao” (Two-Mao Burnt Liquor) to get a taste of ancient liquor. The production process of Liang Mao Shao in small workshops is similar to the ancient method, although it may not be as cheap as “Two Mao” nowadays.

It is said that burnt liquor emerged during the Yuan Dynasty, according to the records of Li Shizhen. However, the term “burnt liquor” already appeared in the poetry of Bai Juyi and others, and the historical research on Shanxi Fenjiu seems to indicate that burnt liquor existed even before the Yuan Dynasty, possibly during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. Therefore, Wu Song’s three bowls at the ridge might have been an early form of burnt liquor, or else the wine with an alcohol content of around 10-15% would not have such strong effects.

Wine made from sprouted grains has a very low alcohol content and a sweet taste. Song Yingxing mentioned that “later generations found li to be too bland and eventually lost the technique.” Wine made with yeast had an alcohol content of around 10-18%, and the taste varied based on the production method of the yeast. Usually, herbs were added to the yeast, resulting in a more spicy taste, similar to modern Shaoxing yellow wine. After distillation, burnt liquor had a high alcohol content of approximately 50%, making it even spicier.

what alcohol goes with Chinese food?

  • Fried peanuts: Fried peanuts are a very popular appetizer that has a crispy texture and a sweet flavor. It is a great accompaniment to beer, white wine, and other beverages.
  • Fried chicken wings: Fried chicken wings are a highly popular appetizer known for their crispy texture and spicy flavor. They are perfect for pairing with beer, white wine, and other drinks.
  • Grilled lamb skewers: Grilled lamb skewers are a highly popular appetizer with a delicious taste and a spicy flavor. They are an excellent choice to pair with beer, white wine, and other beverages.
  • Grilled fish: Grilled fish is a very popular appetizer known for its delicious taste and spicy flavor. It is a great choice to accompany beer, white wine, and other drinks.
  • Grilled meat skewers: Grilled meat skewers are a highly popular appetizer with a savory taste and a spicy flavor. They are perfect for pairing with beer, white wine, and other beverages.
  • Fried tofu: Fried tofu is a very popular appetizer known for its crispy texture and sweet flavor. It is an excellent choice to accompany beer, white wine, and other drinks.
  • Fried shrimp: Fried shrimp is a highly popular appetizer known for its crispy texture and tasty flavor. It is a great choice to pair with beer, white wine, and other beverages.
  • Fried fish chunks: Fried fish chunks are a highly popular appetizer known for their crispy texture and delicious flavor. They are an excellent choice to accompany beer, white wine, and other drinks.
  • Hotpot: Hotpot is a popular choice for social drinking, whether it’s a communal hotpot or a spicy hotpot loved by spice enthusiasts. It suits the taste of many drinkers.
  • Cold-dressed edamame: Cold-dressed edamame is also a commonly eaten appetizer with drinks. It is seasoned with a generous amount of vinegar, chili, and other spices, stimulating your appetite and invigorating your spirit. It enhances the enjoyment of drinking beer.
  • Cucumber: Many drinkers enjoy eating smashed cucumbers, as they complement the taste of alcohol quite well. Cold-dressed cucumbers are not only popular as appetizers for drinking but are also commonly eaten in daily life. During the summer, a plate of smashed cucumbers is a refreshing and appetizing option after consuming heavy meals. It is simple and quick to prepare, and the ingredients are affordable.
  • Century egg: Cold-dressed century eggs are also a favorite appetizer among many drinkers. Although some people may be hesitant to try century eggs initially due to their unique aroma, once they taste it, they cannot forget the rich flavor it offers. The numbing effect of alcohol helps to mask any odd taste, allowing us to fully appreciate the aroma of the century eggs. Therefore, century eggs make a perfect appetizer to accompany drinks, and the preparation is super simple.

what is the strongest Chinese alcohol?

Shao Daozi, a pure sorghum liquor from Northeast China, is considered to be the white liquor with the highest alcohol content in the country. It can reach an alcohol content of 80% or higher and belongs to the category of light aroma Baijiu. Shao Daozi originated during the Zhou Dynasty and was mainly popular in the ancient region of eastern Liaodong. It acquired its name due to its extremely high alcohol content, which causes it to ignite when exposed to fire, and its intense flavor that resembles the burning edge of a red-hot blade when consumed, giving the sensation of swallowing a scorching flame.

In the Northeast region of China, Shao Daozi liquor is available in bottled and loose forms. Bottled Shao Daozi generally has an alcohol content of around 50-60%, while loose Shao Daozi made from sorghum can even exceed 80% alcohol content.

Loose Shao Daozi with an alcohol content exceeding 80% is extremely potent, and it is not recommended to consume it directly. Instead, it can be used for making infusions. On the other hand, bottled Shao Daozi, similar to Men Donkey from Inner Mongolia, has a strong body, smooth entry, and a rich aroma. It is exceptionally mellow and smooth, and drinking it in excess does not result in strong intoxication.

brewing city in china

In China, there are many cities famous for their alcoholic beverages. Since 2004, the China National Light Industry Council has selected four renowned liquor-producing cities based on their brewing history, the strength of national famous liquors, and brand recognition. These cities are Huai’an City in Guizhou Province, Yibin City in Sichuan Province, Fenyang City in Shanxi Province, and Suqian City in Jiangsu Province. Additionally, there are three other cities with strong liquor production capabilities. Let’s take a closer look at these seven cities and their charm!

Huairen City, Guizhou Province (Maotai Liquor)

Almost every village in Huairen City is involved in liquor production, and Maotai Liquor alone generates sales revenue of over one trillion yuan. Huairen City has been steadfast in producing sauce-flavored liquor and has propelled Huairen Sauce-Flavored Liquor to international recognition. In 2018, Huairen City achieved the 39th position among “China’s Top 100 Counties (Cities)” and has been leading the national liquor industry.

As a county-level city under Zunyi City, Huairen City consistently ranks first in the county-level economy of Guizhou Province. This is largely attributed to the development of the liquor industry. Looking at the entire Guizhou Province, the progress of the liquor industry is remarkable. In the 14th Five-Year Plan, Guizhou Province aims to achieve a liquor production of 600,000 kiloliters and an output value of 250 billion yuan by 2025. Zunyi is expected to reach a liquor production of 600,000 kiloliters and an output value exceeding 200 billion yuan by 2025.

Yibin City, Sichuan Province (Wuliangye Liquor)

Yibin City provides an excellent environment for the production of Wuliangye Liquor, which has made both Yibin City and Wuliangye famous. Wuliangye is not only one of the six prestigious liquors of Sichuan Province but also the leader among strong-aroma liquors, with a turnover exceeding 67 billion yuan in 2020, making it a dominant force in the liquor industry. Wuliangye aims to surpass 100 billion yuan in turnover by 2025 and maintain its leading position in the strong-aroma liquor market.

Fenyang City, Shanxi Province (Fen Liquor)

Fen Liquor has a history of approximately 4,000 years and is the oldest palace liquor in China. The Jin merchants spread Fen Liquor across the country, influencing many distilleries, including Maotai Liquor. Fen Liquor is produced in Xinghua Village, Fenyang City, and is also known as Xinghua Village Fen Liquor. Fenyang City is the largest production base of light-aroma liquor in China, mainly due to the presence of Fen Liquor.

In recent years, Shanxi Fen Liquor has shown remarkable momentum, with a market value of up to 448.9 billion yuan, surpassing Luzhou Laojiao and becoming the third-largest liquor in China. In the 2021 performance report, it is estimated that the revenue will range from 11.729 billion to 12.419 billion yuan, with a year-on-year growth of 70% to 80%, and a net profit of 3.37 billion to 3.691 billion yuan, with a year-on-year growth of 110% to 130%.

Suqian City, Jiangsu Province (Yanghe Daqu Liquor)

The liquor industry is one of the four pillar industries in Suqian City, and Yanghe Liquor, known as “Fountainhead Liquor with Fragrance and Beauty, Dominating the Jianghuai Region,” is well-regarded. Relying on the advantages of producing strong-aroma and mellow-flavor liquors, Suqian has formed a relatively complete group of famous liquor brands, with Yanghe and Shuanggou as the leading products.

In 2012, Suqian was honored with the title of “China Liquor Capital” by the China National Light Industry Council, thanks not only to its natural brewing environment and rich cultural heritage but also to the liquor production regions of Yanghe and Shuanggou. Currently, Suqian’s liquor industry, led by Yanghe and Shuanggou, is at the forefront nationwide.

Luzhou City, Sichuan Province (Luzhou Laojiao/Lang Liquor)

“Liquor promotes the city, and the city bears the liquor’s name.” Luzhou City is home to two nationally famous liquors, Luzhou Laojiao and Lang Liquor. Luzhou Laojiao takes the lead in the popular strong-aroma liquors. Luzhou City is not only the birthplace of strong-aroma liquor but also one of the three nodes in the golden triangle of Chinese liquor production, benefiting from its excellent geographical location.

Based on the 2021 performance report of Luzhou Laojiao, the net profit for 2020 was estimated to be between 5.57 billion and 6.035 billion yuan, with a year-on-year growth of 20% to 30%, showcasing impressive figures.

Haozhou City, Anhui Province (Gu Jing Gong Liquor)

Haozhou, Anhui, is a major hub for the liquor industry and one of the four pillar industries in the city. In recent years, Gu Jing Gong Liquor acquired Wuhan Tianlong Yellow Crane Tower Liquor Company and adopted marketing strategies similar to Yanghe and Shuanggou, resulting in a production and sales scale exceeding 30 billion yuan.

Mianzhu City, Sichuan Province (Jiannanchun Liquor)

Mianzhu, known as the ancient city of Sichuan culture, is also recognized as the “hometown of liquor.” The well-known Jiannanchun Liquor is produced here. After more than a thousand years of development, Jiannanchun has formed multiple mature brand series. Its flagship product, Shuijingjian, achieved a sales volume exceeding 16,000 tons in 2020, with an annual growth rate of 12%.

Qingdao City, Shandong Province (Beer)

Qingdao is known for its abundant production of beer, driven by both geographical and historical factors. In terms of geographical factors, the main ingredients of beer, such as malt and hops, thrive in Qingdao due to its status as a major grain-producing province. From a historical perspective, German beer has a long and prestigious heritage, and Qingdao was once colonized by Germany. As early as 1903, the first brewery was established in Qingdao by the Germans.

Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province (yellow wine)

Shaoxing Yellow Wine, also known as Shaoxing Old Wine, was recognized as one of the top ten famous products in China during the Qing Dynasty. Among the numerous types of alcoholic beverages in the country, Shaoxing Old Wine is one of the most award-winning varieties. A few years ago, the Chinese government announced protocol reform, replacing Maotai with Shaoxing Rice Wine as the official banquet wine for entertaining foreign guests.

Chinese drinking alcohol tools

Chinese drinking culture has a rich history and a variety of traditional tools and vessels used for consuming alcohol. Here are some common Chinese drinking alcohol tools:

Ganbei Cup: Ganbei, meaning “bottoms up,” is a popular drinking tradition in China. A ganbei cup is a small, shallow cup used for toasting and drinking shots of alcohol in one gulp.

Baijiu Bottle: Baijiu is a strong distilled liquor widely consumed in China. Baijiu bottles come in various sizes and shapes, often made of glass or ceramic, and are used to store and serve the liquor.

Wine Cup/Goblet: Wine cups or goblets are used for enjoying wine or other alcoholic beverages. They come in different sizes, materials (such as glass, porcelain, or jade), and designs, ranging from simple to intricately decorated.

Wine Pot/Decanter: Wine pots or decanters are used for pouring and serving wine. They are often made of ceramic or porcelain and can be beautifully decorated.

Tea Cups: In traditional Chinese drinking culture, tea cups are sometimes used to serve and consume alcohol. The small cups are usually made of porcelain and can be found in various styles and colors.

Wine Warmer: Wine warmers are used to heat and warm the alcoholic beverage, especially during winter or colder weather. The warmer usually consists of a container or vessel to hold hot water and a smaller vessel or cup to hold the wine.

Drinking Bowls: Drinking bowls, often made of porcelain or ceramic, are used for consuming alcohol in a more casual setting. They have a larger capacity compared to tea cups or wine cups.

Wine Tasting Set: Wine tasting sets are used by professionals and enthusiasts to evaluate and appreciate the aroma, flavor, and characteristics of wines. These sets typically include glasses, a decanter, and other accessories.

Wine Opener: Wine openers, such as corkscrews or bottle openers, are essential tools for opening wine bottles. They come in various designs, including traditional styles and modern, more advanced mechanisms.

Ice Bucket: Ice buckets are used to keep wine or other beverages chilled. They are often made of metal or plastic and may include a handle or tongs for easy handling of ice cubes.

These are just a few examples of the many drinking alcohol tools used in Chinese culture. The specific tools and vessels used can vary depending on the region, occasion, and personal preference.

alcohol symbolism in Chinese culture

Alcohol holds significant symbolism in Chinese culture and is often associated with various social, cultural, and spiritual aspects. Here are some key symbolism of alcohol in Chinese culture:

Celebration and Festivities: Alcohol is closely tied to celebrations, festivals, and important occasions in Chinese culture. It is often used for toasting and expressing joy and happiness during weddings, Chinese New Year, family gatherings, and other festive events.

Social Bonding and Harmony: Sharing and drinking alcohol together is considered a way to strengthen social bonds and promote harmony among friends, family, and colleagues. Toasting and drinking together symbolize unity, friendship, and the building of positive relationships.

Hospitality and Generosity: Offering alcohol to guests is a common practice in Chinese hospitality. It symbolizes generosity, respect, and warmth towards visitors. The act of pouring drinks for others is seen as a gesture of goodwill and friendship.

Symbol of Prosperity and Abundance: In Chinese culture, the act of drinking alcohol, especially during banquets and lavish meals, is associated with wealth, prosperity, and abundance. It represents a display of prosperity and the enjoyment of a good life.

Rituals and Ceremonies: Alcohol plays a significant role in various traditional rituals and ceremonies in Chinese culture. It is used in offerings to ancestors during ancestral worship and important rituals like weddings and funerals. Alcohol is believed to connect the living and the deceased and facilitate communication with the spiritual realm.

Symbol of Power and Status: Historically, alcohol consumption was associated with power, status, and social hierarchy in Chinese society. Drinking and offering expensive or rare types of alcohol were ways for individuals to display their wealth and social standing.

Expression of Emotions and Bonding: Alcohol is sometimes used as a means to express emotions and create a sense of camaraderie. It is believed to help people open up, relax, and connect on a deeper level, allowing for more sincere conversations and bonding.

Symbol of Tradition and Cultural Heritage: Traditional Chinese alcoholic beverages, such as baijiu and huangjiu, have a long history and are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. The production, consumption, and appreciation of these drinks represent the preservation and continuation of cultural heritage.

It’s important to note that while alcohol holds symbolism in Chinese culture, responsible drinking and moderation are also valued and encouraged.

alcohol in Chinese story

King Goujian of Yue

During the Spring and Autumn Period, King Fu Chai of Wu defeated King Goujian of Yue and forced him to sign a humiliating treaty, effectively leading to the downfall of the Yue Kingdom. Goujian endured humiliation and hardship, sleeping on firewood and tasting gall, until he finally destroyed the Wu Kingdom and achieved revenge. It is said that when Goujian swore to lead an expedition against Wu, the people came forward to offer fine wine. Goujian ordered the wine to be poured into a small river, and both the soldiers and civilians drank together, boosting their morale. Since the wine at that time was a mixture of sediment and residue called “lao,” the river was named “Tou Lao River,” meaning “Pouring Wine River.”

Wine Spring

During the Western Han Dynasty, General Huo Qubing successfully recaptured lost territories in the Hexi region. Emperor Wu rewarded him with wine as a token of appreciation, but there was too little wine for the large number of soldiers. Huo Qubing ordered the wine to be poured into a spring, and he and his soldiers drank from it together. From then on, the place was known as “Jiu Quan” (Wine Spring), which is believed to refer to the present-day Jiuquan City in Gansu Province.

Golden Turtle Exchanged for Wine

In the Tang Dynasty, the poet He Zhizhang, who served as a guest of the crown prince, admired Li Bai and called him the “Exiled Immortal.” Once, while drinking with Li Bai, He Zhizhang actually exchanged the golden turtle ornament from his body for wine, leaving a lasting impression on Li Bai, who wrote the poem “Remembering Tears Filled My Robe at the Place Where the Golden Turtle Exchanged for Wine.” This is the story of the “Golden Turtle Exchanged for Wine.”

Beauty Spring

According to legend, in ancient times, there was a beautiful and kind-hearted girl named Amei in Yanghe Town. She had a sister-in-law named Cuijie. Both sisters were young, beautiful, and skilled in brewing wine. The wine they brewed was sweet, mellow, and fragrant, spreading for ten miles. One Mid-Autumn night, the two of them drank excessively and went to the well to fetch water. Cuijie fell into the well due to her drunkenness, and Amei went to rescue her but accidentally fell into the well as well. Since Amei and her sister-in-law fell into the well, the well water became even sweeter and more refreshing. People said that Amei and her sister-in-law were wine fairies sent by the Queen Mother of the West. This wellspring was named “Beauty Spring.”

Zhuge Well

During the end of the Three Kingdoms period, when the Wei army invaded Shu, Zhuge Liang’s descendants, Zhuge Zhan and Zhuge Shang, died in battle at Mianzhu. Out of respect for their loyalty and bravery, the well with excellent water was named “Zhuge Well.” In Ming Li Deyang’s description of Mianzhu Daqu liquor, it says, “Replace ten ingredients with one Deyi, comparing it to ginseng. Only the water from the southwestern line of wells can brew this liquor.” This refers to the water from Zhuge Well.

Chen Shubao’s Death by “Pure Wine Return to People”

During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Emperor Chen Shubao of the Chen Dynasty was a person who indulged in alcohol and lust. When the Sui Dynasty’s army approached, someone tried to persuade him to repent through divination, but he not only refused to listen but also executed the diviner. After the Sui army launched an attack, he claimed that the land was his and that the Sui army would not dare to enter. When the capital was besieged, he cried and, with two concubines, hid in a dried well. Eventually, the Sui army used a rope to pull them out, and he became a captive. This is the story of Chen Shubao, the ruler who fell into ruin due to “pure wine and women.”

Cup of Wine Relinquishing Military Power

The Cup of Wine Relinquishing Military Power is a famous wine banquet and an important event in history. Zhao Kuangyin, after ascending to the throne as Emperor Taizu, arranged this wine banquet to strengthen centralization and specifically to relieve the generals of their military power. This marked the beginning of the Song Dynasty, which prioritized literature over military affairs for several centuries.

Qian Sou Banquet of Emperor Qianlong

The Qian Sou Banquet, which began during the reign of Emperor Kangxi and reached its peak during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, was the grandest imperial feast during the Qing Dynasty. In the fiftieth year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign, as part of the Qing Dynasty’s celebrations, he held the Qian Sou Banquet, inviting approximately 3,000 elderly people to participate. This grand feast became unprecedented.

Boiling Wine and Discussing Heroes

This wine banquet was a political trial and meeting between Cao Cao and Liu Bei, often referred to as a meeting of the two dragons. While boiling wine, they discussed who could be considered a hero in the world. With each word spoken, there were deep intentions. It can be said that they were discussing heroes while boiling wine.

Concubine Yang Drunk on Wine

Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty made an appointment with Yang Guifei to enjoy wine and flowers at the Baihua Pavilion. However, Emperor Xuanzong did not show up, and Yang Guifei had to drink alone in front of the flowers and moon. The wine entered her sorrowful heart, and she became overwhelmed with emotions, unable to contain herself. Faced with high-ranking officials and eunuchs, she became heavily intoxicated. Later, she returned with regret. Concubine Yang drunk on wine has long been regarded as one of the Four Great Beauties in Chinese tradition, and it is the only wine banquet among the Ten Great Banquets in which a woman is the main character.

Wine Pools and Meat Forests

“Wine Pools and Meat Forests” is an idiom derived from a historical story and appears in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian. It originated from the downfall of King Zhou of Shang. In order to win the favor of Daji, he obeyed all her requests. King Zhou and Daji had a large pool dug, filled with wine, and hundreds of livestock and birds were slaughtered. The most tender and juicy meat was cut from them, carefully roasted, and then hung on the surrounding trees. This became known as the Wine Pools and Meat Forests in Chinese history.

alcohol in Yin and Yang

In the concept of Yin and Yang, alcohol is generally associated with Yang energy. Yang represents the active, masculine, and outwardly-oriented aspects, while Yin represents the passive, feminine, and inwardly-oriented aspects. Here are some considerations regarding alcohol in relation to Yin and Yang:

Yang Energy: Alcohol is considered to have a warming and energizing effect on the body, which aligns with the Yang energy. It can increase circulation, stimulate the senses, and create a more extroverted and expressive state. In this sense, alcohol is seen as promoting Yang qualities.

Imbalance: While Yang energy is necessary for action and vitality, an excessive amount of alcohol can lead to an imbalance in the body and mind. Overconsumption of alcohol may result in an overstimulation of Yang energy, leading to aggression, restlessness, and a loss of control.

Yin-Yang Balance: The key principle in Yin and Yang is to maintain a harmonious balance between the two energies. Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt this balance by overpowering the Yin energy and causing disharmony. It is important to moderate alcohol intake and consider the overall balance of Yin and Yang in one’s lifestyle.

Individual Differences: The effects of alcohol can vary among individuals. Some people may experience a more pronounced increase in Yang energy when consuming alcohol, while others may have a different response. It is essential to be aware of your own body and how alcohol affects you personally.

As with any aspect of Yin and Yang, moderation and balance are key principles. While alcohol may be associated with Yang energy, it is important to use it responsibly and in moderation to maintain a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang energies within oneself.

alcohol Chinese new year

During the Chinese New Year festivities, alcohol plays a significant role in the banquet. It is believed that “no alcohol, no celebration.” Starting from the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month (known as “Little Year”) through the first day of the lunar year until the Lantern Festival, drinking alcohol is a common practice. The specific types of alcohol and drinking customs during the Lunar New Year have had their own traditions and significance throughout history.

During the Han Dynasty, people would drink a type of alcohol called “Jiao Bai Jiu” (椒柏酒). This was a “health-promoting wine” made by soaking pepper flowers and cypress leaves in alcohol. It was believed that the pepper flowers represented the essence of the star Yu Heng, and consuming them made people feel light and agile. The cypress leaves were considered a medicinal herb that could ward off various illnesses. Drinking this type of wine was believed to promote good health and well-being. The tradition of drinking Jiao Bai Jiu remained popular until the Northern and Southern Dynasties.

In the Wei and Jin Dynasties, another type of alcohol called “Tu Su Jiu” (屠苏酒) became popular during the Lunar New Year. Tu Su Jiu was created by Hua Tuo, a renowned physician of the late Han Dynasty, and it was made by steeping Chinese herbal medicines such as rhubarb, white atractylodes, cinnamon twigs, Sichuan pepper, and aconite in alcohol. It was believed to ward off epidemic diseases and promote good health. During the Wei and Jin Dynasties, there were specific rules for drinking alcohol. On New Year’s Eve, family members would dress formally, pay respects in order of seniority, and start drinking. They would first drink Jiao Bai Jiu, followed by peach soup, and then Tu Su Jiu before enjoying various dishes.

In the Tang Dynasty, with the prosperity of the empire, the scale and sophistication of alcohol consumption surpassed previous eras. During the Lunar New Year, the palace held lavish banquets accompanied by music, dance, and drinking games to enhance the festive atmosphere. Whether it was the royal nobility or the common people, drinking alcohol during the Lunar New Year no longer solely served as a means of preventing diseases but also carried the new meaning of celebration and merriment. Alcohol became a prop for entertainment.

During the Song Dynasty, the practice of drinking Jiao Bai Jiu became less common, and people preferred Tu Su Jiu and Shu Tang (a type of soup made with medicinal herbs). On Lunar New Year’s Day, people would drink alcohol twice a day. In addition to the evening family gathering, where they would drink and stay up late, neighbors would invite each other for reciprocal drinking during the daytime, known as “Bie Sui” (别岁). Apart from drinking, neighbors would also exchange food and drinks as gifts, known as “Kui Sui” (馈岁).

During the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, the tradition of staying up late on New Year’s Eve became widespread, and the atmosphere of the Lunar New Year became more pronounced. As soon as it got dark, families would gather together to “stay up late” (known as “Du Sui”), and the hostess would prepare delicious food and good wine, instructing everyone to drink and enjoy. Along with drinking, various innovative forms of entertainment emerged, with dice games being particularly popular.

Since the Qing Dynasty, alcohol has also become a means of conveying emotions, hosting guests, and exchanging gifts, becoming a fashionable practice for Lunar New Year celebrations. Drinking alcohol during the Lunar New Year is not only about bidding farewell to the old year and welcoming the new year but also has taken on a broader social function, which continues to influence the present.

In ancient times, there was a custom of drinking “Fen Sui Jiu” (分岁酒) on New Year’s Eve. The Jin Dynasty’s “Feng Tu Ji” records: “After the New Year’s Eve ceremony is completed, the young and old gather to drink and offer blessings, and this is called ‘Fen Sui.'” Chen Shan, a scholar from the Song Dynasty, wrote in the “Hangzhou Annals”: “In ancient times, there was a New Year’s Eve banquet, called ‘Da Shu Yin’ (达曙饮),’ but now it stops at midnight, so it is called ‘Fen Sui.'” The poet Shen Xuan from the Ming Dynasty wrote in his poem “Dielianhua: New Year’s Eve”: “Fen Sui Jiu Lan supports the drunken to rise, closed doors all night in joyous celebration. Bright candles line the high hall on New Year’s night, one cup of fine wine, one melodious song.” This shows that drinking “Fen Sui Jiu” was a highlight of the New Year’s Eve feast in ancient times.

Once midnight passes, the new year begins, and everywhere is decorated with lights, lanterns, and the sounds of firecrackers fill the air. “Congratulations and best wishes for the New Year” arrives on the first day of the new lunar year. Lu Zhaolin of the Tang Dynasty wrote in his poem “Yuan Ri Shu Bei”: “People sing with small cups of New Year’s wine, flowers dance in the grand spring of the Great Tang. The grass colors obscure the three paths, the wind stirs the neighboring scenery. May it remain like this for a long time, with new changes in each passing year.” The poem vividly portrays the singing, dancing, New Year’s wine, and the flourishing spring atmosphere.

On the Lantern Festival, people in ancient times would drink a type of alcohol made by soaking pepper flowers, known as “Jiao Hua Jiu” (椒花酒). On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, children and grandchildren would offer Jiao Hua Jiu to their elders to celebrate their birthdays. After drinking the birthday wine, the younger generation would then leave home to seek their own fortunes. They would have to wait until the next Lunar New Year to reunite and celebrate again.

alcohol on Chinese birthday

Sending alcohol as a birthday gift symbolizes longevity, good health, and everlasting happiness. This is because the word for alcohol sounds similar to the words for “longevity” and “have” in Chinese. Therefore, it conveys the wishes for a long and prosperous life. In essence, it represents longevity and prosperity. Sending alcohol as a gift on birthdays is a way of expressing these well wishes.

Expanding on this knowledge: The word for “alcohol” in Chinese sounds similar to the number nine. Therefore, sending wine as a gift represents auspiciousness and happiness. When friends exchange wine, it symbolizes a wish for enduring friendship. Sending wine to colleagues or superiors represents respect and serves as a bridge to strengthen relationships. When family members give wine to older adults, it signifies a wish for their good health and longevity. Overall, sending wine as a gift is a way to express respect and is a common practice during holidays and festivals.

alcohol in Chinese Wedding

From ancient times to the present, alcohol has become more than just a beverage; it is a bridge and bond, a carrier, a cultural trend, and a means of expressing emotions. In Chinese culture, the word for alcohol sounds similar to the word for “long-lasting,” symbolizing longevity and good fortune. Chinese people often use this homophonic association to seek auspiciousness and blessings. During wedding ceremonies, alcohol adds joy and celebration, making the happy occasion even more delightful.

Betrothal Wine Ceremony
During the betrothal process, the groom’s elder relatives visit the bride’s family. They share a meal and drink wine, discussing the lifelong commitment between the couple. The groom brings gifts such as wine and tea to the bride’s family (typically including cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, and tea, known as the “four-color gifts” in northern China). The four colors represent the four seasons, symbolizing a year-round, perfect, and blissful union. If the bride’s family proactively offers wine to the groom’s family during the banquet, it signifies a preliminary agreement.

Engagement Wine Ceremony
During the formal engagement ceremony, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family again, bringing gifts and sharing a meal together. The main purpose is to present the betrothal gifts. At the banquet, the groom offers wine to the bride’s parents while presenting the prepared betrothal gifts (usually about half of the total amount) to the bride’s parents. This moment marks the mutual agreement on the wedding date between the two families. The key element of the engagement wine ceremony is the word “engagement,” as it confirms the lifelong commitment between the couple, bringing joy to the parents’ hearts. The engagement wine ceremony represents the parents’ approval of the couple’s relationship and the couple’s acknowledgment of their love for each other.

Bride’s Home Arrival Wine Ceremony
On the wedding day, the groom and his male relatives go to the bride’s home to welcome her. They have a wine ceremony at the bride’s home, and it is considered auspicious for the dishes and drinks to be in even numbers.

Wedding Banquet Wine
During the wedding banquet, after the guests are seated, they raise their glasses to acknowledge the legal union of the newlyweds and offer sincere blessings. Toasts such as “Wishing you a lifetime of happiness” and “Wishing you eternal harmony” are heard. The wine poured by the bride and groom to the guests represents their commitment to love and their gratitude and welcome to the elders and friends.

Cup Exchange Ritual(jiaobeijiu)
The cup exchange ritual, also known as “He Ji” in ancient times (originally meaning one gourd divided into two cups), is a traditional ceremony in Chinese weddings. To demonstrate their love for each other, the couple each holds a cup of wine and intersects their arms before taking a sip.

Homecoming Wine

On the second day of the wedding, the newlywed couple holds a “homecoming” ceremony. The homecoming wine refers to a banquet hosted by the bride’s family, usually held after the groom’s family has completed the wedding reception. It emphasizes the gratitude and reluctance between the bride and her parents. Unlike the complexity of the wedding ceremony, the homecoming wine typically consists of a lunch banquet. After the banquet, the couple returns home together, while friends and relatives present gifts to congratulate them.

alcohol in the five elements

In the context of the Five Elements theory in Chinese philosophy, alcohol can be associated with different elements based on its characteristics and effects. Here is a general understanding of how alcohol may relate to the Five Elements:

Wood Element (木): Wood represents growth, expansion, and creativity. In terms of alcohol, it can be associated with herbal or botanical spirits, such as certain types of gin or liqueurs made with botanical ingredients.

Fire Element (火): Fire represents passion, enthusiasm, and transformation. Alcohol with a high alcohol content, such as strong spirits like vodka or whiskey, can be associated with the Fire element due to their warming and transformative effects.

Earth Element (土): Earth represents stability, nourishment, and grounding. Traditional rice-based alcohols like sake or rice wine, as well as fermented beverages like beer, can be associated with the Earth element due to their grounding nature and connection to agricultural processes.

Metal Element (金): Metal represents clarity, precision, and refinement. Clear spirits like vodka or silver tequila, which undergo processes of distillation and filtration, can be associated with the Metal element due to their purity and clarity.

Water Element (水): Water represents adaptability, intuition, and flow. Drinks with a cooling or moisturizing effect, such as certain types of wines or cocktails, can be associated with the Water element due to their fluid nature and ability to quench thirst.

It’s important to note that these associations are symbolic and metaphorical, and the categorization of alcohol into specific elements may vary depending on cultural beliefs and personal interpretations.

alcohol in Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), alcohol is considered an essential component and highly praised for its therapeutic properties. It is often referred to as the “leader of hundreds of medicines,” highlighting its significant role in TCM.

Alcohol is widely used in clinical applications of TCM and is explicitly mentioned in classical TCM texts such as “Fifty-Two Disease Treatments,” “Huangdi Neijing” (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), “Shanghan Lun” (Treatise on Cold Damage), “Qianjin Fang” (Thousand Ducat Formulas), and “Bencao Gangmu” (Compendium of Materia Medica). These texts dedicate a substantial amount of content to alcohol, with approximately 95% of Chinese herbal medicines mentioned being compatible with its use. Additionally, external applications of alcohol are also documented in these texts. This demonstrates the crucial role of alcohol in TCM, justifying its reputation as the leader of hundreds of medicines.

Alcohol’s therapeutic effects in TCM include warming the middle burner, dispersing cold, promoting blood circulation and meridian flow, regulating qi, alleviating pain, expelling pathogenic influences, enhancing the effects of other herbs, modifying the properties of herbal formulas, detoxification, and prevention. However, alcohol belongs to the category of dampness and heat, and therefore, excessive and prolonged consumption is discouraged. Alcohol should not be abused or excessively relied upon.

Furthermore, in TCM, the preservation of yang qi (vital energy) is emphasized. Many diseases are attributed to yang deficiency. Aconite, known for its pungent and hot properties, is believed to be the leader of hundreds of medicines for its ability to rescue collapsed yang, boost fire and yang, and dispel cold and alleviate pain. However, aconite should only be used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional and with close monitoring due to its toxicity. It should be noted that aconite should only be used when there are symptoms of yang deficiency.

Therefore, aconite’s status as the leader of hundreds of medicines is context-dependent and should be used cautiously under professional guidance.

Chinese herbal alcohol

snake alcohol

Snake wine is a type of alcoholic beverage prepared by placing a whole snake, sometimes still alive, into a jar of rice wine or other grain-based alcohol. It is then left to ferment for several months. Occasionally, herbs and spices such as ginseng are added to the concoction. Another form of the drink does not involve the preservation of live snakes. Instead, the live snake is killed on the spot, and its blood and bile are mixed with alcohol, which is then immediately consumed by the consumer.


Sanlianjiu is composed of various traditional Chinese herbs and is believed to nourish the liver and kidneys, replenish blood, and invigorate the yang energy. It is suitable for conditions such as weak lower back and knees, lack of strength in the ankles, and male sexual dysfunction. The ingredients of Sanlianjiu include bullwhip, sheep whip, dog whip, centipede, angelica root, white peony root, pollen, licorice, and others. Sanlianjiu is a health supplement with immune-regulating and anti-fatigue effects. It is a low-alcohol nutritional health wine that, when consumed regularly, enhances the body’s anti-fatigue and immune-regulating functions, leading to increased vitality and longevity.


Huangfengjiu, also known as Hornet Wine, is a commonly used traditional Chinese medicinal health wine known for its nourishing effects on the body, enhancing physical fitness, and preventing diseases. Its main benefits are related to the treatment of various conditions caused by blood stasis, such as dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, and irregular menstruation, providing effective regulation. Huangfengjiu is also used to prevent the occurrence of rheumatic joint pain and has a positive impact on improving blood production for conditions such as anemia and weak constitution.

alcohol in Chinese festival

Traditional festivals are often closely associated with alcohol, and the consumption of alcohol during these festivals is often coordinated with the seasonal changes.

New Year’s Day (Yuan Ri)

On the first day of the lunar calendar, also known as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year. Drinking alcohol on New Year’s Day is supported by poetic evidence, as seen in the following verse: “Amidst the sound of firecrackers, a year is ushered out, and the spring breeze brings warmth as we drink to the To Su wine. The sun shines on thousands of households, as new peaches replace the old symbols.”

To Su wine is believed to dispel evil spirits and awaken human spirits. It is said to have been created by the famous physician Hua Tuo during the late Han Dynasty. To Su wine is known for its ability to tonify qi, warm the yang, dispel cold, and ward off epidemic diseases.

Li Shizhen, a Ming Dynasty physician, recorded in his book “Compendium of Materia Medica” that To Su wine, as mentioned in the “Xiao Pin Fang” by Chen Yan, can prevent and counteract various abnormal qi. During the New Year, it is consumed to ward off epidemics and celebrate longevity.

The drinking of To Su wine follows a particular etiquette, starting from the youngest person and proceeding according to seniority. This practice has become a metaphor for the passage of time and the transience of youth. The two significant functions of New Year’s Day alcohol culture are expelling diseases and promoting health.

Social Day (She Ri)

Social Day refers to the day of worshiping the gods of the land and crops, which includes the Spring Social and Autumn Social. The Spring Social has evolved into the Dragon Raising its Head Festival, commonly celebrated on the second day of the second lunar month. The Autumn Social is celebrated during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Social Day naturally involves the consumption of social wine. It is believed in folk traditions that social wine can cure deafness, earning it the name “deafness-curing wine.” Li Shizhen mentioned in his “Compendium of Materia Medica” that social wine has three functions: treating delayed speech in children, promoting appetite, and repelling mosquitoes. Social Day has become a day dedicated to health and hygiene.

Shang Si

Shang Si refers to the first day of the third month in the lunar calendar. On this day, people in ancient times engaged in water-related activities such as bathing and playing in the water, a practice known as “Xiu Xi” or “Spring Xiu.” It is also referred to as “Xiu Ri”

(Xiu Wine Day)

Xiu means bathing, and it is a water-related ritual. People gather by the water to cleanse themselves, removing impurities and avoiding disasters, while praying for peace in the coming year. Apart from bathing, drinking by the water’s edge, known as “Xiu Wine,” is an integral part of the Shang Si festival.

During the Wei and Jin dynasties, the fixed date for Shang Si was changed to the third day of the third lunar month. The famous calligrapher Wang Xizhi depicted scenes of the Shang Si festival in his “Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection,” portraying literati enjoying wine and socializing in Kuaiji and flowing waters.

Qingming (Pure Brightness)

Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is a day for visiting ancestors’ graves and enjoying outdoor activities. There are no restrictions on drinking alcohol during this festival.

There are two reasons for drinking alcohol on Qingming Festival. Firstly, during the preceding Cold Food Festival, people are not allowed to make fires and consume hot food. Drinking alcohol can provide warmth and increase calories. Secondly, alcohol is used to temporarily alleviate and numb the grief felt by people mourning their loved ones.

Ancient Chinese poets wrote numerous poems about drinking alcohol during Qingming Festival. Bai Juyi of the Tang Dynasty wrote, “Where could one forget about wine? Beautiful young men in vermilion gates. After the flowers bloom following the Spring Equinox, and before the moon shines in the Cold Food season.”

Duanwu (Dragon Boat) Festival

The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is known as the Duanwu Festival, also called the Dragon Boat Festival. As mosquitoes become prevalent during this time and diseases easily spread, people consume Acorus calamus wine to ward off evil spirits, eliminate toxins, and counteract poison.

According to historical records, during the Tang Dynasty reign of Emperor Guangqi (885-888 AD), Acorus calamus wine was already being consumed. The poet Yin Yaofan of the Tang Dynasty wrote, “Youthful festivals carry heightened emotions, but who knows the sorrow of growing old? I won’t follow the Ai Fu custom but will pray for prosperity with Acorus calamus wine.”

The tradition gradually spread among the common people. It is recorded in various historical works, including the Tang Dynasty’s “Wai Tai Mi Yao,” “Qian Jin Fang,” the Song Dynasty’s “Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang,” the Yuan Dynasty’s “Yuan Bai Lei Chao,” the Ming Dynasty’s “Compendium of Materia Medica” and “Pu Ji Fang,” and the Qing Dynasty’s “Qing Bai Lei Chao.”

Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu)

Also known as Zhongqiu Festival or the Moon Festival, it falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. During this festival, whether it is a family reunion or a gathering of close friends, people cannot do without moon-gazing and drinking.

China has a long history of brewing osmanthus wine. Two thousand three hundred years ago, during the Warring States period, “osmanthus wine” was already being brewed. It is recorded in the “Chu Ci” that “offer osmanthus wine and peppered gruel.” Guo Xian of the Han Dynasty also mentioned “osmanthus liquor” and “yellow osmanthus wine” in his book “Notes on Caves Beyond the State.”

Chongyang (Double Ninth) Festival

The Double Ninth Festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. As nine is a yang number and represents the extreme of yang, “double ninth” symbolizes reaching the peak of yang energy. On the Double Ninth Festival, people believe it is necessary to ward off evil spirits. They wear zhuyu (Cornus officinalis) branches, drink chrysanthemum wine, and climb mountains to avoid disasters. This tradition has been passed down to the present day.

Gao Chengzhao of the Song Dynasty recorded in “Original Record of Things” that chrysanthemum wine was associated with the custom of celebrating longevity during the Double Ninth Festival. He wrote, “Qifu’s wife, Jia Peilan, who later married Duan Ru, mentioned that when she was in the palace, on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, she wore zhuyu, ate Pong E, and drank chrysanthemum wine, believing it would grant long life. Since then, people have climbed mountains, enjoyed chrysanthemums, and drank wine during the Double Ninth Festival, which has continued to this day without decline.”

Laba Festival

The Laba Festival is celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. People often eat Laba porridge, but few mention Laba wine. However, there has been a tradition of drinking Laba wine in many regions of China since ancient times.

Laba wine is made by fermenting and steaming glutinous rice a week before the Laba Festival. According to traditional Chinese medicine, glutinous rice has the effects of nourishing yin, benefiting the lungs, and promoting intestinal health. It can treat excessive yang and yin deficiency, insomnia, prolonged diarrhea, and various skin diseases.

These are some of the traditional Chinese festivals where alcohol is associated with seasonal customs. Drinking alcohol during these festivals not only has cultural significance but also represents the wishes for good fortune, health, and warding off evil spirits.

alcohol in the Taoism

According to historical records, Taoism originated from the “Fangxian Dao” during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in ancient China. This original religious group was primarily involved in various practices and skills such as astronomy, medicine, divination, physiognomy, and geomancy. They also promoted the consumption of elixirs and the belief that offering sacrifices to the heavens, earth, and spirits could lead to immortality.

Due to the well-developed ancient Chinese culture of alcohol even before the formation of Taoism, the early Taoist beliefs were deeply influenced by a strong wine culture. In fact, during this “Fangxian Dao” period, wine was not only not prohibited but was considered an important offering in the worship of deities. There was even an official position in the court specifically responsible for the rituals involving the offering of wine, known as the “jiu ren” or “wine person.” According to the “Zhou Li” (Rites of Zhou), “The wine person takes charge of the Five Qi and the Three Wines for sacrifices.” Ancient tombs from the Yin Dynasty, where scholars were buried, often contain wine utensils, reflecting the association between wine and religious ceremonies.

In the early stages of Taoism, there were no restrictions on alcohol. The oldest surviving Taoist code of conduct, “Laojun Xiang Er Jie” (Laozi’s Reflections on Regulations), consists of three sections with a total of nine precepts, and none of them mention abstaining from alcohol. While it is still uncertain whether wine was still used as an offering during this time, early Taoism not only did not prohibit wine but also adopted titles related to “wine” from the previous religious practices to address senior religious officials.

In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, Zhang Daoling, known as the Celestial Master Zhang, founded the first organized Taoist sect in China called the “Wudoumi Dao” and established the position of “Jijiu” (wine offering) for the leaders of each religious district. The term “Jijiu” originally referred to the elder who dipped wine for rituals during palace banquets and was only held by highly respected individuals. The “Wudoumi Dao” continued to use this title, indicating a connection between the religious functions performed by the early Taoist priests and the previous “wine person” role.

Although the role of wine in Taoist rituals gradually diminished over time, it took on a new form during the process of spreading Taoism—medicinal wine used for healing purposes, both internally and externally. It was hailed as the “king of hundred medicines.” Legend has it that the inventor of medicinal wine was Hua Tuo, a renowned Taoist physician during the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Throughout the history of Taoism, many legendary and historical figures associated with Taoism have had a strong connection to wine. For example, the popular legend of the Eight Immortals is originally related to wine. The Eight Immortals were initially a group of eight eminent individuals who were known for their love of wine. In the Tang Dynasty, the well-known Eight Immortals were renowned scholars and officials who bonded over their love for wine, including Li Bai, He Zhizhang, Li Shizhi, Ru Yangwangjin, Cui Zongzhi, Su Jin, Zhang Xu, and Jiao Suizhi. They were called the “Eight Immortals of Wine” in the “New Book of Tang.” Their camaraderie and wine-inspired poetry have become legendary tales. The current popular depiction of the Eight Immortals was compiled and finalized in the Ming Dynasty, but the connection to wine remains.

In early Taoism, not only was wine not prohibited, but there were even tales of Taoist immortals achieving enlightenment and flying to heaven through their association with wine. For example, Lü Dongbin, who is revered as the founder of Quanzhen Taoism, is said to have become an immortal through a chance encounter with Zhongli Quan, another Taoist immortal, in a wine shop in Chang’an during the late Tang Dynasty and Five Dynasties period. After undergoing ten trials, Lü Dongbin received the teachings of eternal vision and thus attained immortality.

Wang Chongyang, the founder of the Quanzhen Taoist sect during the Jin Dynasty, is also known for his love of alcohol. Despite his initial aspirations for a career in government, he ended up working as a wine attendant for a long time before abandoning his worldly life and establishing his sect. He claimed to have met a divine figure and received secret teachings while working at a wine shop in Ganhedian, and from then on, he feigned madness and called himself “Wang Haifeng.” He secluded himself in a village cave in Zhongnan Mountain and began his journey of establishing and spreading his teachings.

Li Hanxu, known as Zhenren (True Person) Li, was the founder of the Western Branch of alchemy in the Qing Dynasty. Historical records indicate that from a young age, he showed great intelligence and talent in music and had a fondness for wine. He immersed himself in poetry and literature, becoming a true poet-wine enthusiast.

One of the most famous Taoist figures associated with alcohol in history is Zhang Gao, the fifteenth-generation Celestial Master. It is recorded that he had an extraordinary appearance, loved wine, and could drink more than 100 jin (approximately 53 kilograms) without getting drunk. During the Tang Dynasty, in the seventh year of the Tianbao era (748 AD), when Emperor Xuanzong of Tang invited him to the capital for an audience, Zhang Gao ended up drinking heavily throughout the night in a wine shop in Chang’an called Huji, and he almost lost the ancestral Taoist seal while being intoxicated.

In summary, early Taoism was not only not abstinent from alcohol but was deeply influenced by the rich wine culture of ancient China. Wine played a significant role in Taoist rituals and offerings, and many historical figures and immortals associated with Taoism had close connections to wine.

Taoism strongly opposes excessive drinking, although it does not strictly prohibit alcohol for ordinary followers. The important Taoist scripture “Taiping Jing, Ding Bu” contains specific discussions and punishment regulations regarding the harms of excessive drinking:

Wasting food: “Without reason, ordering the people to produce alcohol, wasting and damaging the five grains.” It mentions the loss of grains, estimating that within a month, millions of measures of grains are consumed needlessly.

Damaging physical health: “When a person drinks and becomes intoxicated, their pulse becomes erratic,” “injuring and damaging the yang essence,” and there is a risk of accidents due to falling or encounters with vehicles.

Impairing normal work: After becoming intoxicated, people may neglect their duties in business transactions or arrive late at the market.

Harming the family: Excessive drinking can lead to solitude and the end of lineage, resentment against parents, or bringing calamity to future generations.

Impacting society and even the natural order: After becoming drunk, individuals may fall victim to unscrupulous people, and officials may neglect their duties, affecting the balance of Yin and Yang, the four seasons, and the five elements. This can disrupt the harmonious rule of the emperor and impede the flow of universal harmony.

In summary, the “Taiping Jing” emphasizes the numerous harms of alcohol: “The harms caused by promoting alcohol are endless and cannot be enumerated.” In light of this, the scripture also stipulates punishments for those who engage in excessive drinking, including corporal punishment and demotion: “Let it be known to virtuous rulers and enlightened officials that from this day forward, anyone who drinks a liter of alcohol without cause will receive thirty strokes and be demoted for three days; for two liters, sixty strokes and six days of demotion; for three liters, ninety strokes and nine days of demotion. The punishment shall match the quantity of alcohol consumed.”

For those involved in the production and sale of alcohol, the punishment involves performing labor-intensive tasks such as carrying bricks, repairing city walls, roads, and government buildings to amend their wrongdoing. This is because alcohol belongs to the water element, while construction belongs to the earth element. Using earth to control water helps rectify their transgressions and prevent excessive harm caused by water: “Earth triumphs over water, stabilizing and eliminating it, ensuring that water does not excessively harm Yang.” “By repairing roads, we promote the development of grand paths and follow the principles of mutual compatibility, gradually establishing a state of great peace.”

Of course, the punishment does not apply to travelers on long journeys or individuals who have elderly or sick family members who require alcohol for medicinal purposes. It also excludes those offering wine in ancestral or spiritual ceremonies.

Starting in the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, Taoism established a system of “abstinence from alcohol.” In addition to opposing excessive drinking, Taoism historically established a system of “abstinence from alcohol.” Since the transmission of the “Seven Disciples of Quanzhen” by the founder, Wang Chongyang, and the establishment of the “Transmission of Precepts” by Qiu Chuji, individuals seeking to join the Taoist path must undergo the “precepts” to become Taoist priests.

During the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, Daoist Wang Changyue established the Quanzhen sect, which gained great prominence. It was from this time that Taoism introduced regulations on abstaining from alcohol. The “Initial True Precepts,” “Extreme Precepts,” and “Great Precepts of Celestial Immortals” together form the “Three Great Precepts,” comprising several hundred rules. These rules incorporate elements from the Buddhist Five Precepts (no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false speech, no alcohol consumption) and Confucian moral principles, providing guidelines for various aspects of life. Some internal Taoist documents from that period explicitly specified punishments for violating these rules. For instance, the “Responsibilities and Punishments of Emperor Lord Chongyang” stipulated that individuals who indulged in alcohol, sex, wealth, anger, or indulged in excessive consumption of meat would be punished by expulsion from the sect.

In summary, Taoism, as a native Chinese religion, has deeply influenced Chinese culture throughout its long history. It is an integral part of traditional Chinese culture, with its own distinct characteristics and essence. Taoism has had a profound and extensive impact on the culture of the Chinese people, leaving a deep imprint on their way of thinking, lifestyle, and behavior.

alcohol in Confucianists

Ancient Chinese society was a society where “wine became a ritual.” The consumption of alcohol by ancient Chinese people had a moral and political dimension, and it was an important form of ritual. The act of drinking wine was accompanied by strict hierarchical etiquette, with specific rules on who should be seated first and how many cups one should drink. Violating these rules was considered impolite. The specifications and forms of wine vessels were also strictly regulated. Furthermore, there were specific considerations regarding the selection of drinking companions and the choice of drinking locations. In general, the wine etiquette in ancient China aimed to apply the ethical principles of respect for hierarchy and elders to the act of drinking and banquets. Wine was considered a “ritual” beverage in ancient times.

The external wine rituals gradually internalized into the individual’s spiritual discipline and calendar. The ethical principles and norms seeped into the inner world of individuals, regulating their behavior and establishing an order within their minds. Within the strict barriers of ritual and law, a person’s animalistic “id” and “ego” were to a large extent consumed by the “superego.” In a tumultuous society, it was easy for individuals to lose themselves in meticulousness and become devoid of character. Alcohol, on the other hand, mechanically induces a dilution of rationality and a weakening of will.

The character of wine is a fusion of water and fire. The fiery nature of spicy alcohol blends with the hidden lava of the deep inner self, resulting in a burst of even more intense energy. The suppressed undercurrents within the depths of the soul surge forth. Wine possesses the power to break through rationality and permeate the senses, consciousness, and subconsciousness that constitute the sensitive tides of life. It dissolves the veils of life and reveals the true essence of existence, the authentic presence of the soul.

Confucian culture is a culture of rituals and music. In Confucian thought, music is not only about melodies but also serves as a form of moral education. “Sounds follow recitation, pitches harmonize with sounds.” Music not only has strict rules regarding rhythm but also various constraints on its ideological content. This, too, is an order of the mind, a true imprisonment of the soul. Music, at the same time, brings joy and pleasure. The essence of music, in the eyes of Confucianism, lies in “recitation and return.” It is a joy that comes after one has accomplished something, a sublime joy born out of achievement. Wine stimulates the heroic spirit of people striving for success. In the eyes of Confucianism, wine enhances the enthusiasm and motivation of individuals, inspiring them to strive and excel. To become intoxicated with wine is, in fact, to be intoxicated with ambition and fame. It is the joy of achieving success and “returning” after accomplishing great deeds. Behind the act of drinking wine lies a profound ethical and moral concept and a sense of social responsibility.

The Confucian ideal of cultivating oneself, managing the family, governing the state, and bringing peace to the world embodies the Chinese people’s spirit of progress. The integration of poetry and wine enables people to understand that life is about taking action, about creation. Those who engage in drunken revelry are considered wayward, not true heroes. It is those who raise their cups and sing boldly who are the ones with accomplishments. Accomplishment lies in creation, in displaying the heroic passion of building and achieving. The likes of Mengde (Cao Cao) toasting by the river, reciting poems with wine in hand, and heroes like Yue Fei and Guan Yu, who shared wine on the battlefield, all exude a powerful and heroic aura. Wine invigorates the demeanor of valiant individuals, imbuing them with an unyielding spirit. Even in the face of arduous warfare, their actions are magnificent, and even in times of expedition, they are cheerful and lively.

This is not about letting go, but rather about taking up responsibility. It signifies taking on the responsibility of the nation and the people, and holding deep concern for the realities of life. Chinese literati deeply grasp the “doctrine of the mean” in drinking, a “semi-philosophy” of life and existence. They exist in the realm between half-drunkenness and half-awakeness, in the emptiness of a wine cup, between reality and dreams, between worldly engagement and carefree elegance. They indulge in wine and heroic songs, experiencing the grand path of life.

alcohol in Buddhism

Buddhism is believed to have been introduced to China during the reign of Emperor Ai of the Western Han Dynasty in the first year of Yuanshou (2 BCE). The rich Buddhist scriptures are an important part of Chinese traditional culture. It is well-known that Buddhism opposes the consumption of alcohol, and abstaining from alcohol is one of the fundamental precepts in Buddhism. The original Buddhist scriptures, such as the “Agama Sutras,” also record the teachings of the Buddha, including abstaining from alcohol, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and false speech.

The Five Precepts are the five basic guidelines that Buddhist practitioners are required to follow in order to eliminate negative causes and attain enlightenment. While the consumption of alcohol is prohibited, it has created an intriguing relationship between Chinese wine culture and Buddhism.

Buddhist precepts prohibit the consumption of alcohol for both laypeople and monastics. Strictly speaking, anything with the smell, flavor, or intoxicating effect of alcohol, including grains, wine, fruit (fermented), medicinal wine, sweet wine (made from honey, sugar, grapes, etc.), clear wine, as well as drunkenness and the residue of wine, are all included in the prohibition. Consuming or swallowing them constitutes a violation. The precepts had practical influence during the time of the Buddha in India. The “Buddha Speaks the Precept Eliminating Disasters Sutra” records that in the central country during the initial propagation of Buddhism, there was a county where all residents upheld the Five Precepts and Ten Virtuous Deeds, and there was no one brewing alcohol. However, a young man from a prominent family violated the precepts and drank alcohol, resulting in his parents expelling him from the family.

According to different targets, the Buddhist scriptures in the Tripitaka categorize the faults related to alcohol consumption into two types. One type is aimed at laypeople in the world, often discussing the gains and losses in general worldly life, career, and wealth. The “Akkosaka Sutra” in the “Agama Sutras” is a representative example. In this sutra, the Buddha advises a wealthy merchant that there are six evil actions that can harm wealth, and one of them is the six evil actions arising from alcohol consumption: “diminished intelligence, illness, easily leading to disputes, spreading a bad reputation, giving rise to anger and violence, and diminishing wisdom.” The sutra emphasizes avoiding these actions, which will lead to an increase in wealth and a happier life. The second type is directed towards the four assemblies of disciples who are practitioners of Buddhism. It serves as guidance for monastic practitioners and includes teachings such as the “Ten Faults” (ugly appearance, lack of energy, impaired vision, clumsiness, ruined accumulated merit, increased illnesses, intensified disputes, spreading a bad reputation, diminishing wisdom, and ruined life at death) and the “Thirty-Five Faults” and “Thirty-Six Failings.” These teachings not only address worldly gains and losses but also emphasize the ultimate harm that alcohol consumption poses to ultimate liberation. In addition to including the faults mentioned above, it also highlights the negative effects of alcohol consumption on seeking pleasure, engaging in unwholesome actions, undermining faith, and hindering spiritual practice. These teachings serve as a warning for those who uphold the Buddha’s teachings.

Buddhism advocates a “transcendent” path and requires people to abandon the “Three Poisons” (greed, hatred, and delusion). It encourages the renunciation of all desires and pursuits and reliance on the “Three Jewels” (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). Buddhism values wisdom, and there are few individuals who can maintain self-control and avoid confusion after consuming alcohol. Instances of misbehavior and loss of virtues due to excessive or chronic alcohol consumption are prevalent. Buddhism emphasizes cultivating oneself, letting go of attachments, and recognizing the emptiness of the four elements. It opposes indulging in alcohol and the frenzy it brings. Therefore, it is incongruous for Buddhist practitioners to indulge in the frenzy of wine and poetry. In order to maintain clarity and facilitate spiritual practice, particularly to achieve the goals of practice, abstaining from alcohol is necessary. Not consuming alcohol is a distinctive feature of Indian Buddhists. In various Buddhist scriptures, there are rules and precepts that prohibit drinking and forbid teaching others to drink. “Selling alcohol” is also listed as one of the “Ten Major Offenses,” prohibiting involvement in any alcohol-related activities, including drinking, tasting, sniffing, selling, offering alcohol to others, falsely claiming illness to receive medicinal alcohol, visiting alcohol establishments, and engaging in conversations with alcohol customers.

In summary, alcohol is considered a potion of delusion, and all serious faults arise from it. The “Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra” even states that drinking alcohol is more harmful than consuming poison. Even for those who do not adhere to Buddhism, excessive drinking and alcohol abuse can lead to irresponsible behavior and loss of virtue. Buddhism serves as a reminder against the current culture of excessive and reckless drinking. “Alcohol is a potion of delusion.” Even for those who do not believe in Buddhism, this is still true. Excessive consumption should be avoided, and moderation should be practiced.

Chinese alcohol and well

Well water is commonly used for brewing alcohol for the following reasons: it is free from pollution and rich in mineral content. Using well water is ideal for alcohol production because of its lack of pollution and high mineral content. When spring water is used for making alcohol, the resulting beverage is fragrant and clear. Well water contains a suitable amount of inorganic components, including dozens to hundreds of different types, which play various roles in the process of alcohol production. Phosphorus, potassium, and other essential components serve as nutrients for microbial growth and fermentation promoters. When there is an insufficient supply of phosphorus and potassium, the growth of koji mold is slow, the temperature of the fermentation process rises slowly, and the yeast does not grow well or reproduce at a high rate. Well water tends to have a rich content of phosphorus and potassium, making it more suitable for microbial growth. On the other hand, harmful substances such as sulfites, sulfides, cyanides, and heavy metal ions, which can negatively affect microorganisms, are present in extremely low concentrations in mountain spring water. However, in river water or groundwater, these harmful components may exceed the acceptable limits and interfere with the fermentation process.

Alcohol And martial arts

Chinese martial arts, known as Wushu, is a unique embodiment of the Chinese culture with a long history that can be traced back to the Shang and Zhou dynasties. It is considered as the quintessence of the nation. Alongside the development of society, economy, and culture, martial arts have become the most distinctive cultural treasure of our nation, representing a valuable cultural heritage accumulated and enriched through long-term social practice.

As poets have always appreciated the joy of wine, practitioners of martial arts are no different. The heroes of the Central Plains, like Qiao Feng and Duan Yu, share a love for wine. They showcase their true skills through drinking, with Qiao Feng’s drinking prowess overshadowing Duan Yu’s exceptional swordplay, and Jin Xiangyu, who is as gentle as water, displaying her martial arts skills in a tavern, defeating her opponent effortlessly. So, what kind of spark is ignited when Chinese martial arts meet wine?

When wine and martial arts blend perfectly, it often results in martial prowess fueled by liquor. This precisely indicates that wine has a significant influence on martial arts. For example, the drunken fist, drunken staff, and drunken sword techniques that emerge when one is intoxicated. While these techniques are highly performative, they also vividly embody the Oriental concept of turning decay into a marvel. There is no denying that drunkenness is an extraordinary state, and yet the Chinese culture has the ability to transform it into something beautiful.

Drunken fist, named for its movements and stances resembling those of a drunkard, is also known as “drunken boxing” or “drunken Eight Immortals fist.” The key to drunken fist lies in the word “drunken,” but this “drunkenness” is merely a simulated state rather than actual intoxication. When launching attacks, the practitioner staggers and appears unstable, seemingly unable to maintain their balance, yet they seize the opportunity to strike while tumbling and rolling, making it nearly impossible to defend against. This is what makes drunken fist truly remarkable.

Drunken sword is another Chinese martial art associated with wine. The sword, as an ancient weapon, is considered the foremost and most prestigious among all blades due to its rich cultural connotations. Even today, it remains one of the most culturally significant instruments for physical exercise among ordinary people, reflecting the essence of the nation.

Drunken fist and drunken sword, with their unique styles, are highly admired and exemplify the profound mastery of Chinese martial arts. Martial arts become reserved and unassuming with the presence of wine, while wine becomes rugged and bold with the existence of martial arts. The fusion of wine and martial arts creates a profoundly meaningful national style.

Alcohol related Chinese place names


The name “Jiuquan” originated from the following story:

During the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, he established four prefectures in the Hexi region, and one of them was Jiuquan. After General Huo Qubing led the Han army to conquer the Hexi Corridor, he pursued the remnants of the Xiongnu tribe to the outskirts of Yumen Pass. Emperor Wu of Han granted them a jar of wine, but there was not enough wine for everyone. Huo Qubing poured the wine into a nearby spring and shared it with his soldiers. It is said that this is the origin of the name Jiuquan.

Jiuquan is named after the phrase “a spring under the city, its water resembling wine.”

Chinese alcohol vs Japan alcohol

Chinese and Japanese alcohols have their own unique characteristics, production methods, and cultural significance. Here are some key points of comparison:

Chinese Alcohol:

Baijiu: The most famous traditional Chinese spirit is baijiu, a strong distilled liquor typically made from grains like sorghum, rice, wheat, or corn. It has a high alcohol content, ranging from 40% to 60% or even higher.

Varieties: There are various styles and regional variations of baijiu, each with its own distinct flavors and production techniques. Examples include Maotai, Fenjiu, and Luzhou Laojiao.

Aroma and taste: Chinese baijiu is known for its strong aroma and complex flavors, often described as strong, pungent, and sometimes even medicinal. It can have a fiery, warming sensation when consumed.

Cultural significance: Baijiu holds a significant place in Chinese culture and is often served at formal occasions, banquets, and celebrations. It is deeply rooted in Chinese traditions and customs.

Japanese Alcohol:

Sake: The most famous traditional Japanese alcohol is sake, a fermented rice wine. It is made from polished rice, water, and koji (a type of mold). Sake can have varying alcohol content, typically ranging from 15% to 20%.

Varieties: Sake can be categorized into different types based on its brewing process, rice polishing ratio, and quality. Examples include Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginjo.

Aroma and taste: Sake is known for its delicate and refined flavors, characterized by a balance between sweetness, acidity, and umami. It has a smooth, clean taste and can be enjoyed both warm and cold, depending on the type.

Cultural significance: Sake is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and traditions. It is often served during ceremonies, rituals, and special occasions. Sake breweries, known as sakagura, play a significant role in Japan’s cultural heritage.

It’s important to note that both Chinese and Japanese alcohol cultures extend beyond baijiu and sake, respectively. Each country has a wide range of other alcoholic beverages, such as Chinese rice wine (mi jiu) and Japanese shochu, beer, and whiskies. The production processes, flavors, and preferences can vary greatly within these categories, reflecting the diversity and richness of the respective cultures.

Chinese alcohol vs Korea alcohol

Chinese and Korean alcohols have distinct characteristics, production methods, and cultural significance. Here are some key points of comparison:

Chinese Alcohol:

Baijiu: The most famous traditional Chinese spirit is baijiu, a strong distilled liquor typically made from grains like sorghum, rice, wheat, or corn. It has a high alcohol content, ranging from 40% to 60% or even higher.

Varieties: There are various styles and regional variations of baijiu, each with its own distinct flavors and production techniques. Examples include Maotai, Fenjiu, and Luzhou Laojiao.

Aroma and taste: Chinese baijiu is known for its strong aroma and complex flavors, often described as strong, pungent, and sometimes even medicinal. It can have a fiery, warming sensation when consumed.

Cultural significance: Baijiu holds a significant place in Chinese culture and is often served at formal occasions, banquets, and celebrations. It is deeply rooted in Chinese traditions and customs.

Korean Alcohol:

Soju: The most popular traditional Korean alcohol is soju, a clear distilled liquor primarily made from rice, but other grains like barley or sweet potatoes can also be used. It typically has an alcohol content of around 16% to 25%.

Varieties: Soju can come in various flavors and styles, including classic, fruit-infused, or aged varieties. There are also regional variations in the production process and ingredients.

Aroma and taste: Soju is known for its clean and smooth taste with subtle sweetness. It is typically less aromatic and less intense compared to Chinese baijiu.

Cultural significance: Soju is deeply ingrained in Korean culture and often enjoyed as a social drink. It is a common choice for gatherings, meals, and traditional ceremonies. Soju is known for its role in fostering communal bonds and social interactions.

It’s worth noting that both Chinese and Korean alcohol cultures extend beyond baijiu and soju, respectively. Each country has a wide range of other alcoholic beverages, such as Chinese rice wine (mi jiu) and Korean makgeolli (rice wine) or traditional fruit wines. The production processes, flavors, and preferences can vary greatly within these categories, reflecting the diversity and richness of the respective cultures.

Chinese alcohol vs Rome alcohol

When comparing Chinese alcohol to Roman alcohol, there are significant differences due to variations in historical, cultural, and geographical factors. Here are some key points of comparison:

Chinese Alcohol:

Baijiu: The traditional Chinese spirit, baijiu, is a strong distilled liquor typically made from grains like sorghum, rice, wheat, or corn. It has a high alcohol content, ranging from 40% to 60% or even higher.

Varieties: China boasts a wide range of baijiu styles, each with its own unique production methods and flavors. Examples include Maotai, Fenjiu, and Luzhou Laojiao.

Aroma and taste: Chinese baijiu is known for its strong aroma and complex flavors, often described as strong, pungent, and sometimes even medicinal. It can have a fiery, warming sensation when consumed.

Cultural significance: Baijiu holds a significant place in Chinese culture and is often served at formal occasions, banquets, and celebrations. It is deeply rooted in Chinese traditions and customs.

Roman Alcohol:

Wine: Wine was the most common alcoholic beverage in ancient Rome and played a central role in Roman culture and society. Romans were known for their viticulture and winemaking techniques.

Varieties: Romans produced various types of wines, including red, white, and rosé, using different grape varieties and fermentation methods.

Aroma and taste: Roman wines varied in taste, ranging from sweet to dry, and their flavors were influenced by factors such as grape selection, aging, and regional characteristics.

Cultural significance: Wine was an integral part of Roman daily life and was consumed in social, religious, and political contexts. Wine drinking was seen as a mark of sophistication and was associated with conviviality and feasting.

It’s important to note that the comparison between Chinese and Roman alcohol is based on their historical contexts. Modern Chinese and Roman alcohol landscapes have evolved over time, with new products and preferences emerging. Additionally, while baijiu remains popular in China, the consumption of Roman-style wines has evolved significantly across different regions and countries, leading to a diverse range of wine styles and traditions today.

Chinese alcohol vs Greece alcohol

When comparing Chinese alcohol to Greek alcohol, there are notable differences in terms of their historical development, production methods, and cultural significance. Here are some key points of comparison:

Chinese Alcohol:

Baijiu: China’s most famous traditional spirit is baijiu, which is a strong distilled liquor typically made from grains such as sorghum, rice, wheat, or corn. Baijiu has a high alcohol content, usually ranging from 40% to 60% or higher.

Distillation process: Chinese baijiu is produced through a complex fermentation and distillation process, often involving multiple rounds of fermentation in large pits or jars.

Aroma and taste: Chinese baijiu is known for its strong, pungent aroma and complex flavors. The taste can vary depending on the production method and the region, but it often carries intense, sometimes even medicinal, flavors.

Cultural significance: Baijiu holds a significant place in Chinese culture and is deeply ingrained in social customs, including formal banquets, celebrations, and business gatherings. It is considered a symbol of hospitality and is often used for toasting and bonding.

Greek Alcohol:

Wine: Greece has a rich history of winemaking that dates back thousands of years. Wine is an integral part of Greek culture and traditions.

Varieties: Greece produces a wide range of wines, including both red and white varieties. Some popular Greek wines include Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko, and Xinomavro. Each region in Greece has its own unique grape varieties and winemaking techniques.

Vineyard cultivation: Greek wines often highlight the influence of the Mediterranean climate and the unique terroir. Vineyards are commonly planted on steep slopes, and organic and biodynamic farming practices are increasingly embraced.

Cultural significance: Wine has deep cultural significance in Greece and plays a central role in social gatherings, religious ceremonies, and everyday life. The Greeks have a long-standing tradition of associating wine with celebration, hospitality, and the arts.

It’s important to note that this comparison is based on historical contexts and traditional practices. Modern Chinese and Greek alcohol industries have evolved over time, with new techniques and trends shaping their respective landscapes. While baijiu and wine remain significant in their respective cultures, both China and Greece also produce other types of alcoholic beverages, such as craft beers and liquors, reflecting the diversity of their contemporary drinking preferences.

what does alcohol mean in a dream?

Dreaming of alcohol typically signifies wealth and prosperity.

  • Dreaming of being thirsty for alcohol indicates that something worth celebrating is on the horizon, such as improved academic performance or smooth progress in work. However, if the taste of the alcohol in the dream is bitter or sour and unpleasant, it may suggest potential setbacks, misfortunes, or sadness.
  • Dreaming of a wine cellar or many bottles of wine suggests a life of abundance and happiness.
  • Dreaming of drinking alcohol with friends signifies a happy life with many friends. It may also indicate that someone in your family or circle of friends is likely to get married or celebrate a joyous occasion soon.
  • Dreaming of drinking alcohol excessively, either alone or with friends, usually suggests that you may encounter disputes or arguments in your waking life.
  • If you dream of getting drunk and feeling uncomfortable or losing consciousness, it may reflect a subconscious desire to escape from reality.
  • Additionally, if you dream of feeling sick or unwell after drinking alcohol, it could be a warning sign regarding your health. Pay attention to your well-being and take care of yourself.
  • Dreaming of someone else getting drunk may suggest difficulties in retrieving borrowed money or seeing it wasted.
  • Dreaming of drinking alcohol alone may indicate potential conflicts within your family or an event that may cause you to seek solace in alcohol.
  • Dreaming of drinking alcohol leisurely suggests a clear and refreshed mind, which may lead to effective work or improved academic performance.
  • If you dream of drinking alcohol with a leader or someone in a higher position, it indicates that you may be fortunate, receive promotions, recognition, or have a successful career. Fame and good luck may come your way.
  • Unmarried men dreaming of excitedly drinking alcohol may suggest an upcoming marriage.
  • Dreaming of drinking alcohol while being ill implies that your condition may worsen.
  • Dreaming of attending a banquet and drinking alcohol signifies good health, a fulfilling life, and prosperous career prospects.
  • Dreaming of a gathering where everyone is drinking alcohol to celebrate indicates the possibility of experiencing separation or loss.
  • If you dream of drinking alcohol without any accompanying dishes, it may indicate setbacks and difficulties in your endeavors. However, for those involved in selling or producing alcohol, this dream suggests a wide range of financial gains.
  • If a sick or elderly person dreams of drinking alcohol in one gulp, it may suggest potential dangers or risks.
  • Encountering a wine spring or fountain in a dream signifies a happy and successful life with everything going smoothly.
  • Men dreaming of pouring alcohol for their wives or girlfriends indicates a loving and harmonious relationship with happiness.
  • If a wife dreams of pouring alcohol for her husband, it may suggest the possibility of pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Students dreaming of drinking alcohol may indicate smooth progress in their studies and successful exams.
  • Dreaming of singing and toasting with alcohol signifies smooth exams and academic achievements.
  • Dreaming of giving alcohol to others suggests a joyful, prosperous, and carefree life.
  • Dreaming of selling alcohol may indicate disputes or conflicts with friends or relatives.
  • Additionally, if you dream of drinking alcohol with others, but someone is only drinking without touching the food, it may suggest that someone may encounter a disaster or pass away.


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.

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