I am still completely confused about Chinese drinking habits. Chinese beer might as well be water with it’s 2% alcohol content but their hard liquor is dirt cheap and crazy strong. They sell 5 liter jugs of what looks like water (and costs almost as little) but is actually 60% liquor!
A lot of Chinese alcohol is made with rice or other grains such as millet or wheat. This goes for wine as well as several types of hard alcohol. Chinese wines taste nothing like they do in the West and typically have a much higher alcohol content (typically 15 – 20%). Although I am not a fan of rice-based drinks, I have to say that Chinese plum wine, considered a women’s drink, is absolutely delicious!
Before moving to China from the Czech Republic, I had no idea how much the doctors have in common. When I had problems with high cholesterol as a 15-year-old in Prague, a Czech doctor wrote out a prescription for some pills. After we took it he gave us an off the record recommendation: a shot of tequila ever morning before breakfast. I started hating tequila after the first month, but my blood tests quickly confirmed that it worked better than any medication.
In the past, Czechs believed that the secret to a long and healthy life was a five deciliter shot of Becherovka (35% herbal liquor) every morning and evening. Traditional Chinese medicine isn’t too different. In the past, alcoholic beverages that included extracts of minerals, herbs, plants and even animal parts were used to treat a myriad of health problems.
The temperature at which alcohol is best enjoyed is at 35 – 55°C which is said to release the best aroma without weakening the drink. This generally refers to wines and liquors. Beer is usually served chilled or at room temperature.
It is difficult to resist the ridiculously low prices of alcoholic beverages in China which is why we keep buying and trying them. However most of them are hard to enjoy if you’re not used to them and this is coming from someone who loves drinking straight vodka. The only Chinese drink I have grown to love has been the Jing brand Chinese medical wine. With an alcohol content of 35% and an herbal flavor, it is basically the Chinese version of Czech Becherovka!