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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Chinese Tea Menu
|Chrysanthemum Tea||júhuā chá||jyoo-hwaa-chaa||菊花茶|
|Jasmine Tea||mòlìhuā chá||mor-lee-hwaa-chaa||茉莉花茶|
|Mixed Herb Tea||liángchá||lyang-chaa||凉茶|
|Hong Kong Style Milk Tea||Sīwà nǎichá||srr-waa neye-chaa||丝袜奶茶|
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Qingdao beer — 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. See more on the Qingdai Beer Festival.
8. 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.
Ordering Drinks — Chinese Restaurant Drinks Menu
|Red (Grape) Wine||Hóngjiǔ||hong-jyoh||红酒|
|White (Grape) Wine||Bái pútáojiǔ||beye poo-taoww-jyoh||白葡萄酒|
|Fresh Fruit Juice||Xiān zhà guǒzhī||sshyen jaa gwor-jrr||鲜榨果汁|
|Apple Juice||Píngguǒ zhī||ping-gwor jrr||苹果汁|
|Pear Juice||Lí zhī||lee jrr||梨汁|
|Orange Juice||Júzi zhī||joo-dzrr jrr||橘子汁|
|Orange Juice||Chéngzhī||chnng jrr||橙汁|
|Banana Juice||Xiāngjiāo zhī||sshyang-jyaoww jrr||香蕉汁|
|Pineapple Juice||Bōluó zhī||bor-lor jrr||菠萝汁|
|Mango Juice||Mángguǒ zhī||mung-gwor jrr||芒果汁|
|Watermelon Juice||Xīguā zhī||sshee-gwaa jrr||西瓜汁|
|Cucumber Juice||Huángguā zhī||hwung-gwaa jrr||黄瓜汁|
|Coconut Juice||Yēzi zhī||yeah-dzrr jrr||椰子汁|
Get What You Want from a China Tour
If you are planning a Chinese tour, please see our Chinese food tour below for inspiration. Our 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.
- 12-Day Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guilin, and Hong Kong Cuisine tour — explore the most popular destinations in China and savor local Chinese food in each city.
- 8 Days Beijing – Xi'an – Shanghai Private Tour — the golden triangle