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Top 8 China Drinks You Should Try

When traveling through China, you may have trouble finding your most beloved beverages from back home, unless your favorite drink is Coca-Cola, in which case you'll have no problem. If Coke isn't your thing, though, have no fear. China has plenty of its own delectable drinks to offer. Here's a list of must-try drinks for your trip to China.


Tea House

Chrysanthemum tea — to say that there is no shortage in tea varieties in China is putting it very, very lightly. The first and most traditional of the teas covered in this article is the refreshing chrysanthemum tea, with its nice floral aroma. Many drink it as a remedy for ailments from the common cold to neurological disorders, though it's a soothing beverage choice regardless of your health status.

Milk tea This popular Taiwanese treat with a smooth creamy feel and bitter aftertaste can be found all over China in various combinations of flavors. One popular form is bubble milk tea, which has tapioca bubbles in the bottom and is often sweetened with various fruit flavors. Large chains such as Coco and Happy Lemon as well as smaller stands can be found all over China. Served hot or cold, it's a great drink for winter or summer.

Wang Lao Ji tea — commonly referred to by expats simply as “the tea in the red cans”, this is one of the most popular brands of tea. It goes especially well with spicy food and, as is common in Chinese tea brands, contains traditional Chinese medicine, so you can be sure you're drinking healthy.

Fruity Drinks

Plum juice — made from Chinese plums and sweetened with a bit of sugar, it's the Chinese drink of choice for relief on sweltering summer days. It can be found on some street corners, or the most famous plum juice brand can be recognized by its famous short, fat jars. 

Arctic Ocean Orange Soda (Beijing) — This refreshing, naturally flavored orange soda has been through a lot. Until the 1990's when Arctic Ocean was bought out by Pepsi, the brand's orange soda was the soda for many consumers in China. Its iconic polar bear logo on glass bottles is something many adults still remember fondly, and now it's back. As of 2012, Arctic Ocean is now independently run and back on shelves — at least in Beijing, for now. You'll find it at almost any neighborhood shop for about 3 rmb.

Mai Dong (脉动) Sports Drink — This sports drink in a blue bottle comes in a number of fruit flavors and is China's version of an enhanced fitness water. It has just a slight touch of sweetness that pleases the taste buds but does not overdo it for the perfect post-exercise thirst quencher.

Alcoholic Beverages

Qingdao — Easily the most popular Chinese beer domestically and worldwide, there is no shortage of the German-style beer anywhere you go. With its light taste and low alcohol content, it's a highly drinkable beer whether you're looking for a single happy hour drink or enjoying a night on the town.

Baijiu — China's national liquor is not for the faint of heart. Ranging from 40 to a whopping 60% alcohol by volume content, it's a drink you won't soon forget, though the same thing may not be said of a night of baijiu consumption.

Get What You Want from a China Tour

China Highlights tours are fully customizable, and our guides are flexible and there to help, allowing you to choose what you want on your tour of China, down to the drinks.

Further Reading