When it comes to Chinese beverages, most people’s first thought is tea.
The drink is at the base of many popular drinks like bubble tea and is served hot or cold. The type of tea used also influences the flavor of this popular beverage.
From roust and bold black blends to milder, fruity varieties, tea is as versatile as it is popular!
While tea represents many of the most popular Chinese drinks, there’s more to enjoy than just the brew.
These are some of my favorite examples of popular beverages from China, and there are quite a few examples of delicious teas. However, there are also dairy alternatives, beers, wines, and spirits!
Popular Chinese Drinks
Check out some of the most popular drinks in China and try them yourself!
What sets this tea apart is that it is made from flower petals.
Chrysanthemums give the beverage its light yellow color and pleasant floral scent.
I like to drink it with some added sugar to enhance the subtle notes of this fragrant tea.
Most Americans are at least acquainted with this dairy alternative that has grown in popularity in recent years, but this beverage has been popular in China for centuries.
Soybean milk has a high protein content making it a common ingredient for recipes using a creamy element.
People also drink this milk for its consistency and smooth texture.
A popular summer beverage, Suanmeitang, has a rich complexity I haven’t found in most juice-based drinks.
Sour plums are smoked to create the base of this beverage, adding savory flavors that contrast the sour elements.
Sweet elements are also added to make a balanced and refreshing drink.
While not as old a tradition as some other popular Chinese drinks, Yunnan Coffee has been around since the 19th century when coffee was first introduced to the region.
The name derives from the province it is produced. If you’re looking for this arabica coffee, I recommend looking at a specialty store or ordering online.
Jiuniang is a popular Chinese drink consumed with a spoon.
It has a unique consistency similar to that of pudding. The dish is made from partially fermented rice with a slight alcohol content.
While the texture of Jiuniang may be uncommon for an American audience, I think most people will be pleasantly surprised by this sweet and unique drink!
Osmanthus wine combines a Chinese liquor with osmanthus flowers that sweeten the drink, adding hints of stone fruit to the brew.
What I find most interesting about this wine is the traditions surrounding it.
This beverage is served at the fall festival and represents reunions between families.
A variety of oolong tea grown in the Fujian province, Tieguanyin is prized for its fruity flavor!
Legends of its origin also surround the tea. My favorite involves a farmer being told where to find this prized tea plant in a dream.
Today this tea is one of the most expensive on the market for its delicate flavor.
The Tsingtao brand was one of the first to establish a brewery in China, and today the producer has grown to be one of the top six breweries in the world!
Tsingtao Beer has a crisp flavor and a refreshing effervescence.
This Chinese beer is one of my favorite options for a slightly lower alcohol content than other beers.
This popular Chinese drink is a distilled liquor with a transparent color.
Various methods of fermentation are used when creating different-tasting products.
Sorghum makes up the base of the mash, but other grains are also utilized, resulting in a plethora of flavors.
In my opinion, the best baijiu has a balance between sweeter citrus and umami notes.
Coconut Milk is a popular component in many hot and cold beverages.
The creamy liquid comes in different consistencies, ranging from thick and creamy to more liquid, depending on fat content.
In China, sweetened coconut milk is diluted with water and served chilled, and the most popular drink adds green jellies to the milk, creating a beverage similar to bubble tea.
Pearl Milk Tea
Pearl milk tea is a variety of bubble tea that adds tapioca balls to a creamy combination of tea and milk.
This beverage’s two most popular varieties are made from green and black tea.
Pearl milk tea is one of my favorite types of bubble tea to get as a treat since the beverage is creamy, rich, and sweet, almost like a dessert.
Sinkiang Black Beer
This Chinese lager is dark in color and rich in flavor.
Sinkiang Black Beer has an almost nutty aroma along with a hint of sweetness on the palette.
The low alcohol content of this beer makes it great for sipping, but I love pairing it with spicy, meat-forward dishes.
This brew can be hard to find in the United States, but it is worth trying if you can find it!
While pearl milk tea is one of the most popular varieties, bubble tea comes in many flavors.
Many different types of tea are used to make these drinks. Some are rich from added creamy elements, while others are blended with fruit.
The bubbles can be from tapioca or flavored jellies in several different shapes. My favorite is popping boba, spheres filled with fruit juice.
Green tea has been a popular drink in China for over a century.
The beverage is made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Depending on the way the plant is grown, it results in different-tasting teas.
In general, most green teas taste earthy, with an almost grassy flavor. I love starting my day with this mild-flavored tea.
Black tea comes from the same plant as other varieties.
What’s different is the drying process during which the tea leaves are oxidized. This preserves the tea while keeping them flavorful.
The resulting tea is a dark, almost reddish color with a strong scent.
The robust taste of the tea makes this tea a great alternative to coffee, with lots of flavors but less caffeine.
While I was already familiar with Kombucha, I didn’t know about its long history as one of the most popular Chinese drinks.
This drink starts with black tea fermented with a culture of bacteria and yeast.
The resulting drink is slightly bubbly, with varying flavors depending on additional fruits and spices added to the brew.
Oolong tea uses a semi-oxidized variety. Unlike black teas, the plant is allowed to wither in the sun before harvest.
The resulting tea has an almost fruity expression but varies by type.
I recommend oolong to first-time tea drinkers because of its pleasant flavor and balance between clean-tasting green tea and more robust black tea.
This Chinese rice wine uses glutinous rice, water, and Chinese yeast, producing a clear alcohol of around 40 proof.
Mijiu has been around since ancient times and is used in recipes and for drinking.
Many families still make this wine at home, but multiple brands are available at supermarkets.
Remember to warm up the Mijiu before drinking for a traditional experience.
Xinjiang Black Beer
Dark beer from China’s largest province has a more robust flavor than other Chinese beers.
Xinjiang black beer is just consumed in the region. This popular drink is enjoyed throughout China.
It shares many characteristics with different beers from the area, including its dark color and nutty aroma.
- Chrysanthemum Tea
- Soybean Milk
- Yunnan Coffee
- Osmanthus Wine
- Tsingtao Beer
- Coconut Milk
- Pearl Milk Tea
- Sinkiang Black Beer
- Bubble Tea
- Green Tea
- Black Tea
- Oolong Tea
- Xinjiang Black Beer