Bottoms up! Take a look at this guide with 218 drinks in Chinese to help quench your thirst.
Who doesn’t love a warm cup of coffee in the morning or an ice-cold beer at the end of a long day? When you visit China, you’ll want to have the vocabulary to order drinks along with your food. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy your meals the same and may even get dehydrated, especially if you visit during China’s hot and humid summers!
One special reason why you’ll definitely want to learn about drinks and beverages in Chinese is to learn some cultural differences between Chinese and Western customs regarding drinks. As you probably already know, we must thank China for the immense contribution of discovering tea in 2,737 B.C. — almost 5,000 years ago! China has since developed a strong tea industry and a rich tea culture that is sure to impress you and your taste buds.
It’s also very important to follow proper drinking etiquette when consuming alcohol in China, especially if you’re visiting for business and are invited to drink with your Chinese colleagues. As you’ll see later on in the article, Chinese drinking culture is an essential part of doing business in China and you need to be prepared for it before you arrive so you can succeed. Otherwise, you risk not only spoiling your business deals but also getting a nasty hangover!
Finally, you might already know that there is no Chinese alphabet. As such, you’ll have to prepare in advance to learn the characters of at least a few essential drinks like water, coffee, and tea. We’ll also give you pinyin along with an intuitive pronunciation guide to help you order your favorite drinks right away.
Feeling thirsty? Let’s jump right into this refreshing guide!
Categories of drinks and beverages in Chinese
Before we get started, let’s break down the different categories of drinks in Chinese. Because we have such a large pool of knowledge in this article, we’ll take things section by section to prevent drowning in an overabundance of vocabulary words. That way, you can choose your favorite drinks and focus on those!
|Beverages||饮料||yǐn liào||yiin liaw|
|Wine||葡萄酒||pú táo jiǔ||pwu taur jeou|
|Beer||啤酒||pí jiǔ||pyi jeou|
|Liquor||烈酒||liè jiǔ||lieh jeou|
|Cocktail||鸡尾酒||jī wěi jiǔ||ji woei jeou|
|Juice||果汁||guǒ zhī||guoo jy|
|Coffee||咖啡||kā fēi||ka fei|
|Milk tea||奶茶||nǎi chá||nǎi chá|
The must-know vocabulary words for alcohol in Chinese
Alcohol is a big part of Chinese culture. Consuming alcohol is seen as a bonding experience, so it’s typically a prerequisite for situations where forming a bond is critical, like work and family situations. So, before you’re caught off-guard, let’s take a look at some of the most common drink and beverage vocabulary in Chinese, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic!
Beer vocabulary in Chinese
When you think of beer, do you think of Germany, Czechia, and Belgium? Well, you might want to introduce China to that list as well! With three of the world’s ten largest beer producers, China is a peer powerhouse that just might have your next favorite beer. From local breweries to large commercial producers, you can find any type of beer you’d like in China. Here are some of the most common types of beer in Chinese.
|Ale||艾尔啤酒||ài ěr pí jiǔ||ay eel pyi jeou|
|Pale ale||爱尔淡啤酒||ài ěr dàn pí jiǔ||ay eel dann pyi jeou|
|Pale lager||拉格淡啤酒||lā gé dàn pí jiǔ||lha ger dann pyi jeou|
|India Pale Ale (IPA)||印度淡色艾尔啤酒 / IPA||yìn dù dàn sè ài ěr pí jiǔ / IPA||yinn duh dann seh ay eel pyi jeou / IPA|
|White beer||白啤||bái pí||bair pyi|
|Yellow Beer||黄啤||huáng pí||hwang pyi|
|Red Beer||红啤||hóng pí||horng pyi|
|Dark beer||黑啤||hēi pí||hei pyi|
|Lager beer||拉格啤酒||lā gé pí jiǔ||lha ger pyi jeou|
|Wheat beer||小麦啤酒||xiǎo mài pí jiǔ||sheau may pyi jeou|
|Pilsner||比尔森啤酒||bǐ ěr sēn pí jiǔ||bii eel sen pyi jeou|
|Bock||博克啤酒||bó kè pí jiǔ||bii eel sen pyi jeou|
|Porter||波特啤酒||bō tè pí jiǔ||bo teh pyi jeou|
Beer brands in Chinese
If you already know exactly what you want, then you can simply ask for your favorite beer brand in Chinese. Some beers have very simple transliterations, so saying “Corona” will probably get you what you want, while others have direct translations that sound nothing like the English name. Thus, keep this guide to Chinese beer brands handy for the next time you go to the bar!
|Heineken||喜力||xǐ lì||shii lih|
|Corona||科罗娜||kē luó nà||ke luo nah|
|Budweiser||百威||bǎi wēi||bae uei|
|Budlight||百威淡啤||bǎi wēi dàn pí||bae uei dann pyi|
|Carlsberg||嘉士伯||jiā shì bó||jia shyh bor|
|Grolsch||高仕||gāo shì||gau shyh|
|Asahi||朝日||zhāo rì||jau ryh|
|Tiger||虎牌||hǔ pái||huu pair|
|Blue Ribbon||蓝带||lán dài||lan day|
|Suntory||三得利||sān dé lì||san der lih|
|Tsingdao Beer||青岛啤酒||qīng dǎo pí jiǔ||ching dao pyi jeou|
|Snow Beer||雪花啤酒||xuě huā pí jiǔ||sheue hua pyi jeou|
|Yanjing Beer||燕京啤酒||yān jīng pí jiǔ||yann jing pyi jeou|
|Harbin Beer||哈尔滨啤酒||hā ěr bīn pí jiǔ||ha eel bin pyi jeou|
|Pearl River Beer||珠江啤酒||zhū jiāng pí jiǔ||ju jiang pyi jeou|
|Wusu Beer||乌苏啤酒||wū sū pí jiǔ||u su pyi jeou|
|Kingway Beer||金威啤酒||jīn wēi pí jiǔ||jin uei pyi jeou|
|Shancheng Beer||山城啤酒||shān chéng pí jiǔ||shan cherng pyi jeou|
|Kingstar Beer||金星啤酒||jīn xīng pí jiǔ||jin shing pyi jeou|
|San Miguel Beer||生力啤酒||shēng lì pí jiǔ||sheng lih pyi jeou|
Wine vocabulary in Chinese
Wine connoisseurs may think of places like Southern Europe, Northern California, and Argentina when they think of wine regions, but did you know that China is the fifth-largest producer of wine in the world? That’s right! Next time you’re in China, you can taste some of the delicious wine from the Shandong, Hebei, and Xinjiang regions.
|Red wine||红葡萄酒||hóng pú táo jiǔ||horng pwu tau jeou|
|White wine||白葡萄酒||bái pú táo jiǔ||bair pwu taur jeou|
|Champagne||香槟酒||xiāng bīn jiǔ||shiang bin jeou|
|Chardonnay||霞多丽||xiá duō lì||shya duo lih|
|Cabernet||赤霞珠||chì xiá zhū||chyh shya ju|
|Merlot||梅洛||méi luò||mei luoh|
|Pinot Noir||黑皮诺||hēi pí nuò||hei pyi nuoh|
|Lafite||拉菲||lā fēi||lha fei|
|Sauvignon Blanc||长相思||cháng xiāng sī||mei luoh|
|Riesling||雷司令||léi sī lìng||lei sy linq|
|Carignan||佳丽酿||jiā lì niàng||jia lih nianq|
|Sangiovese||桑娇维赛||sāng jiāo wéi sài||sang jiau wei say|
|Syrah||西拉||xī lā||shi lha|
|Bordeaux||波尔多||bō ěr duō||bo eel duo|
Cocktail vocabulary in Chinese
Everyone deserves a cocktail at the end of a long workweek. If you’re looking to order your favorite drink in Chinese or are feeling adventurous, here are 25 of the best cocktails in Chinese.
|Apéritif||开胃酒||kāi wèi jiǔ||kai wey jeou|
|Long Island iced tea||长岛冰茶||cháng dǎo bīng chá||charng dao bing char|
|Margherita||玛格丽特||mǎ gé lì tè||maa ger lih teh|
|Cosmopolitan||大都会||dà dū huì||dah du huey|
|Tequila sunrise||龙舌兰日出||lóng shé lán rì chū||long sher lan ryh chu|
|Mai Tai||美态||měi tài||meei tay|
|Strawberry daiquiri||草莓戴吉利酒||cǎo méi dài jí lì jiǔ||tsao mei day jyi lih jeou|
|Piña colada||椰林飘香||yē lín piāo xiāng||ie lin piau shiang|
|Sex on the beach||激情海岸||jī qíng hǎi àn||ji chyng hae ann|
|Mojito||莫吉托||mò jí tuō||moh jyi tuo|
|Bloody Mary||血腥玛丽||xuè xīng mǎ lì||shiueh shing maa lih|
|White Russian||白俄罗斯||bái é luó sī||bair er luo sy|
|Gin and tonic||金汤力||jīn tāng lì||jin tang lih|
|Gin fizz||金菲士||jīn fēi shì||jin fei shyh|
|Mimosa||含羞草||hán xiū cǎo||harn shiou tsao|
|Blue Hawaiian||蓝色夏威夷||lán sè xià wēi yí||lan seh shiah uei yi|
|Singapore sling||新加坡司令||xīn jiā pō sī lìng||shin jia po sy linq|
|Manhattan||曼哈顿||màn hā dùn||mann ha duenn|
|Summer punch||夏日宾治||xià rì bīn zhì||shiah ryh bin jyh|
|Pink Lady||红粉佳人||hóng fěn jiā rén||horng feen jia ren|
|Angel’s Kiss||天使之吻||tiān shǐ zhī wěn||tian shyy jy woen|
|Shots||短饮||duǎn yǐn||doan yiin|
|Jaeger Bomb||雅格炸弹||yǎ gé zhà dàn||yea ger jah dann|
|Kamikaze||神风||shén fēng||shern feng|
|Lemon Drop||柠檬糖果||níng méng táng guǒ||ning meng tarng guoo|
Liquor vocabulary in Chinese
Liquor in Chinese is quite simply 酒 (jiǔ), which you’ll usually see as the last character of specific types of liquor, like 白酒 (baijiu) and 金酒 (gin). Another word you should be familiar with is 劝酒 (quàn jiǔ), which is the Chinese social practice of pressuring your friends and colleagues to drink. For better or for worse, Chinese cultural practices call for encouraging everyone to drink as much as possible, so overdrinking is quite common.
We’ll show you how to politely turn down any invitations to 劝酒 (quàn jiǔ) as well as a few ways to actively deal with it later in this article. For now, we’ll just delve into how to say different types of liquor in Chinese.
|Baijiu||白酒||bái jiǔ||bair jeou|
|Mulled rice wine||黄酒||huáng jiǔ||hwang jeou|
|Rice wine||米酒||mǐ jiǔ||mii jeou|
|Horse milk wine||马奶酒||mǎ nǎi jiǔ||maa nae jeou|
|Medicinal wine||药酒||yào jiǔ||yaw jeou|
|Whiskey||威士忌酒||wēi shì jì jiǔ||uei shyh jih jeou|
|Vodka||伏特加||fú tè jiā||fwu teh jia|
|Gin||金酒||jīn jiǔ||jin jeou|
|Rum||朗姆酒||lǎng mǔ jiǔ||laang muu jeou|
|Tequila||龙舌兰酒||lóng shé lán jiǔ||long sher lan jeou|
|Cognac||干邑||gān yì||gan yih|
|Martini||马天尼||mǎ tiān ní||maa tian ni|
|Brandy||白兰地||bái lán dì||bair lan dih|
|Sake||清酒||qīng jiǔ||ching jeou|
|Mezcal||梅兹卡尔||méi zī kǎ ěr||mei tzy kaa eel|
Liquor brands in Chinese
Okay, now you know how to ask for a certain type of liquor, but what about when you know which bottle you have? After all, the brand is almost as important as the type of liquor, so you should know how to order the brand you want. Here are some of the most popular liquor brands in Chinese.
|Absolut||绝对||jué duì||jyue duey|
|Belvedere||雪树||xuě shù||sheue shuh|
|Grey Goose||灰雁||huī yàn||huei yann|
|Ketel One||坎特一号||kǎn tè yī hào||kaan teh i haw|
|Smirnoff||斯米尔诺夫||sī mǐ ěr nuò fū||sy mii eel nuoh fu|
|Stolichnaya||苏联红||sū lián hóng||su lian horng|
|Bombay Sapphire||孟买蓝宝石||mèng mǎi lán bǎo shí||menq mae lan bao shyr|
|Bacardi||百加得||bǎi jiā dé||bae jia der|
|Malibu||马利宝||mǎ lì bǎo||maa lih bao|
|Captain Morgan||摩根船长||mó gēn chuán zhǎng||mo gen chwan jaang|
|Don Quixote||唐吉诃德||táng jí hē dé||tarng jyi he der|
|Jose Cuervo Gold||豪帅金快活||háo shuài jīn kuài huó||haur shuay jin kuay hwo|
|Patron||培恩||péi ēn||peir en|
|Hennessy||轩尼诗||xuān ní shī||shiuan ni shy|
|Johnnie Walker||尊尼获加||zūn ní huò jiā||tzuen ni huoh jia|
|Chivas||芝华士||zhī huá shì||jy hwa shyh|
|Moët & Chandon||酩悦香槟||mǐng yuè xiāng bīn||miing yueh shiang bin|
|Taittinger||泰廷爵||tài tíng jué||tay tyng jyue|
|Martell||马爹利||mǎ diē lì||tay tyng jyue|
|Remy Martin||人头马||rén tóu mǎ||ren tour maa|
|Jack Daniel’s||杰克丹尼||jié kè dān ní||jye keh dan ni|
|Changyu||张裕||zhāng yù||jang yuh|
|Moutai||茅台||máo tái||mau tair|
The must-know vocabulary words for soft drinks in Chinese
If you’re not in the mood for libations, then you should order one of the many soft drinks available in China. In particular, you’ll find that tea is very popular in its many variations across China, including hot tea, fruit tea, milk tea, and more. Let’s take a look at some soft drinks.
Fruit juice in Chinese
Fruit is very popular in China, which is no wonder considering it has dozens of delicious local fruits. From lychee to dragon fruit, you’ll be able to find some delicious new fruit juices as you work your way through China. Of course, you can also find some of the fruits you’re used to back home, including apples, grapes, and oranges. We recommend pear juice while in China as the pears are much bigger and juicier there.
|Apple juice||苹果汁||píng guǒ zhī||pyng guoo jy|
|Cranberry juice||红莓汁||hóng méi zhī||horng mei jy|
|Grape juice||葡萄汁||pú táo zhī||pwu taur jy|
|Lemonade||柠檬水||níng méng shuǐ||ning meng shoei|
|Orange juice||橙汁||chéng zhī||cherng jy|
|Tomato juice||番茄汁||fān qié zhī||fan chye jy|
|Strawberry juice||草莓汁||cǎo méi zhī||tsao mei jy|
|Blueberry juice||蓝莓汁||lán méi zhī||lan mei jy|
|Pineapple juice||菠萝汁||bō luó zhī||bo luo jy|
|Lychee juice||荔枝汁||lì zhī zhī||lih jy jy|
|Mango juice||芒果汁||máng guǒ zhī||mang guoo jy|
|Papaya juice||木瓜汁||mù guā zhī||muh gua jy|
|Peach juice||桃汁||táo zhī||taur jy|
|Kiwi juice||猕猴桃汁||mí hóu táo zhī||mi hour taur jy|
|Watermelon juice||西瓜汁||xī guā zhī||shi gua jy|
|Plum juice||酸梅汤||suān méi tāng||suan mei tang|
|Aloe juice||芦荟汁||lú huì zhī||lu huey jy|
|Corn juice||玉米汁||yù mǐ zhī||yuh mii jy|
|Coconut water||椰子水||yē zi shuǐ||ie tzy shoei|
|Avocado juice||牛油果汁||niú yóu guǒ zhī||niou you guoo jy|
Milk drinks in Chinese
Milk-based drinks are very popular in China, especially soy milk and flavored milk. You’ll be able to find many flavors of regular and soy milk at any convenience store, especially from the Vitasoy brand. Here are some of the most common milk beverages in Chinese:
|Chocolate milk||巧克力奶||qiǎo kè lì nǎi||cheau keh lih nae|
|Milkshake||奶昔||nǎi xī||nae shi|
|Yogurt||酸奶||suān nǎi||suan nae|
|Milk tea||奶茶||nǎi chá||nae char|
|Skim milk||脱脂牛奶||tuō zhī niú nǎi||tuo jy niou nae|
|Soy milk||豆浆||dòu jiāng||dow jiang|
|Oat milk||燕麦奶||yàn mài nǎi||yann may nae|
|Almond milk||杏仁奶||xìng rén nǎi||shinq ren nae|
|Kefir||克非尔酸奶||kè fēi ěr suān nǎi||keh fei eel suan nae|
|Banana milk||香蕉牛奶||xiāng jiāo niú nǎi||shiang jiau niou nae|
|Eggnog||蛋奶酒||dàn nǎi jiǔ||dann nae jeou|
|Evaporated milk||淡炼乳||dàn liàn rǔ||dann liann ruu|
Soda in Chinese
Soda is very popular all over China. You’ll be able to find the most common sodas like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, and Fanta in virtually any restaurant and street vendor, along with some other soft drinks like Red Bull and tonic water.
|Cola||可乐||kě lè||kee leh|
|Ginger ale||姜汁汽水||jiāng zhī qì shuǐ||jiang jy chih shoei|
|Coca-Cola||可口可乐||kě kǒu kě lè||kee koou kee leh|
|Pepsi||百事可乐||bǎi shì kě lè||bae shyh kee leh|
|Fanta||芬达||fēn dá||fen dar|
|Sprite||雪碧||xuě bì||sheue bih|
|7 UP||七喜||qī xǐ||chi shii|
|Root Beer||根汁汽水||gēn zhī qì shuǐ||gen jy chih shoei|
|Red Bull||红牛||hóng niú||horng niou|
Tea in Chinese
Tea has an incredibly rich cultural history in China, and traditional tea ceremonies involve several steps to ensure the best flavor of the tea. The ceremony usually involves various tools like a teapot, teacups, a tea scoop, tea tongs, and more. However, if you want to brew Chinese tea at home, all you need is a teapot, loose-leaf tea, some hot water, and a teacup.
If brewing pu’er or oolong tea, then you’ll want to rinse the tea with a quick pour of hot water and immediate disposal to awaken the tea and remove any debris. This first pour is usually poured over a tea pet, but you can just throw it out if you don’t have one. Enjoy the subsequent brews and remember to share your tea with your loved ones!
|Black tea||红茶||hóng chá||horng char|
|Green tea||绿茶||lǜ chá||liuh char|
|Chamomile tea||甘菊茶||gān jú chá||gan jyu char|
|Herbal tea||草药茶||cǎo yào chá||tsao yaw char|
|Iced tea||冰茶||bīng chá||bing char|
|Oolong tea||乌龙茶||wū lóng chá||u long char|
|Dragon Well tea||龙井茶||lóng jǐng chá||long jiing char|
|Pu'er tea||普洱茶||pǔ ěr chá||puu eel char|
|Matcha||抹茶||mǒ chá||moo char|
|Matcha latte||抹茶拿铁||mǒ chá ná tiě||moo char na tiee|
|Chrysanthemum tea||菊花茶||jú huā chá||jyu hua char|
|Scented tea||花茶||huā chá||hua char|
|Jasmine tea||茉莉花茶||mò lì huā chá||moh lih hua char|
|Honey citron tea||蜂蜜柚子茶||fēng mì yòu zǐ chá||feng mih yow tzyy char|
|Earl Grey tea||格雷伯爵茶||gé léi bó jué chá||ger lei bor jyue char|
|Mint tea||薄荷茶||bò hé chá||boh her char|
|Jiaduobao||加多宝||jiā duō bǎo||jia duo bao|
Bubble tea in Chinese
Bubble tea has taken China by storm over the past couple of decades. Iced milk tea with tapioca balls and various toppings has become the trendiest treat among young people in China, with many choosing to pick up a bubble tea as they run their errands or have a leisurely evening walk. You may have noticed bubble tea shops start popping up in your home country, but nothing comes close to the real deal. Here are some of the most common types of bubble tea in Chinese:
|Milk tea||奶茶||nǎi chá||nae char|
|Bubble tea||珍珠奶茶||zhēn zhū nǎi chá||jen ju nae char|
|Boba tea||波霸奶茶||bō bà nǎi chá||bo bah nae char|
|Original milk tea||原味奶茶||yuán wèi nǎi chá||yuan wey nae char|
|Strawberry milk tea||草莓奶茶||cǎo méi nǎi chá||tsao mei nae char|
|Black sugar milk tea||黑糖奶茶||hēi táng nǎi chá||hei tarng nae char|
|Taro milk tea||香芋奶茶||xiāng yù nǎi chá||shiang yuh nae char|
|Mango milk tea||芒果奶茶||máng guǒ nǎi chá||mang guoo nae char|
|Lychee milk tea||荔枝奶茶||lì zhī nǎi chá||lih jy nae char|
|Peach milk tea||桃子奶茶||táo zi nǎi chá||taur tzy nae char|
|Matcha milk tea||抹茶奶茶 / 抹茶拿铁||mǒ chá nǎi chá / mǒ chá ná tiě||moo char nae char / moo char na tiee|
Bubble tea toppings
The beauty of bubble tea is how highly customizable it is. If you’ve ever had a boba before, then you know that you can add countless toppings, flavors, and textures to make your cup perfect for you. Here are some common bubble tea toppings in Chinese:
|Tapioca pearls||珍珠||zhēn zhū||jen ju|
|Taro pearls||小芋圆||xiǎo yù yuán||sheau yuh yuan|
|Coconut jelly||椰果||yē guǒ||ie guoo|
|Red beans||红豆||hóng dòu||horng dow|
|Popping boba||爆爆珠||bào bào zhū||baw baw ju|
|Jelly||果冻||guǒ dòng||guoo donq|
|Grass Jelly||仙草冻||xiān cǎo dòng||shian tsao donq|
|Aloe Jelly||芦荟||lú huì||lu huey|
|Pudding||布丁||bù dīng||buh ding|
|Sea Salt Foam||奶盖||nǎi gài||nae gay|
Coffee in Chinese
Coffee has become a major phenomenon in China over the last few years. However, the coffee culture in China is different from the West, where many need to have coffee first thing in the morning just to function. In China, coffee is seen as an afternoon treat or something you have just to enjoy the taste of it, so you’ll find that going to the 咖啡馆 (kā fēi guǎn) is more often a social activity rather than a straight necessity.
Here’s how to order coffee in Chinese, no matter what kind of coffee you prefer:
|Black coffee||黑咖啡||hēi kā fēi||hei ka fei|
|Americano||美式咖啡||měi shì kā fēi||meei shyh ka fei|
|Cappuccino||卡布奇诺||kǎ bù qí nuò||kaa buh chyi nuoh|
|Decaf coffee||无因咖啡||wú yīn kā fēi||wu in ka fei|
|Espresso||意式浓缩||yì shì nóng suō||yih shyh nong suo|
|Double espresso||双倍意式浓缩||shuāng bèi yì shì nóng suō||shuang bey yih shyh nong suo|
|Latte||拿铁咖啡||ná tiě kā fēi||na tiee ka fei|
|Vanilla latte||香草拿铁||xiāng cǎo ná tiě||shiang tsao na tiee|
|Spanish latte||西班牙拿铁||xī bān yá ná tiě||shi ban ya na tiee|
|Mocha coffee||摩卡咖啡||mó kǎ kā fēi||mo kaa ka fei|
|Macchiato||玛奇朵||mǎ qí duǒ||maa chyi duoo|
|Flat white||澳白||ào bái||aw bair|
|Iced coffee||冰咖啡||bīng kā fēi||bing ka fei|
|Cold brew coffee||冷酿咖啡||lěng niàng kā fēi||leeng nianq ka fei|
|Drip coffee||滴漏式咖啡||dī lòu shì kā fēi||di low shyh ka fei|
|Immersion brewing||浸泡式||jìn pào shì||jinn paw shyh|
|Pour over coffee||手沖咖啡||shǒu chōng kā fēi||shoou chong ka fei|
|Aeropress||爱乐压||ài lè yā||ay leh ia|
|French Press||法压壶||fǎ yā hú||faa ia hwu|
|Moka Pot||磨卡壶||mó kǎ hú||mo kaa hwu|
|Coffee drip bags||挂耳式咖啡||guà ěr shì kā fēi||guah eel shyh ka fei|
|Instant coffee||速溶咖啡||sù róng kā fēi||leeng nianq ka fei|
If you like your coffee with a little flavor in it, then you’re probably already wondering if you’ll be able to find your vanilla soy latte in China. And the answer is yes! Most coffee shops will be able to accommodate popular coffee flavors like caramel, hazelnut, vanilla, and more. And, if you’re really lucky, you might run into a coffee festival where you’ll find some fun coffee flavors like a red bean latte or even a hotpot-flavored coffee!
Here’s how to order coffee in Chinese, just how you like it:
|Caramel||焦糖||jiāo táng||jiau tarng|
|Hazelnut||榛果||zhēn guǒ||jen guoo|
|Vanilla||香草||xiāng cǎo||shiang tsao|
|Chocolate||巧克力||qiǎo kè lì||cheau keh lih|
|Cinnamon||肉桂||ròu guì||row guey|
|Peppermint||薄荷||bò hé||boh her|
|Mango||芒果||máng guǒ||mang guoo|
|Cherry||樱桃||yīng táo||ing taur|
The must-know vocabulary words related to water in Chinese
Water is the source of all life, so you’ll definitely want to know how to order water when you’re in China. If you’re from the United States, then you’re probably used to getting a large glass of iced water as soon as you sit down at your table at a restaurant. However, this isn’t the case in China, so you’ll want to know how to order water to stay hydrated.
|Hot water||热水||rè shuǐ||reh shoei|
|Cold water||冰水||bīng shuǐ||bing shoei|
|Mineral water||矿泉水||kuàng quán shuǐ||kuanq chyuan shoei|
|Soda water||苏打水||sū dǎ shuǐ||kuanq chyuan shoei|
|Bottled water||瓶装水||píng zhuāng shuǐ||pyng juang shoei|
Why do Chinese people drink hot water?
If you’ve been to China before, then you already know that hot water is a big deal. In fact, you’ll be able to find boiling hot water dispensers almost anywhere while room temperature water is much less common.
The massive surge in popularity of hot water is in large part due to the public service announcements from the Nationalist government in the 1930s. Drinking hot water was seen as more sanitary than drinking regular water and therefore healthier. To this day, you’ll see drinking hot water pushed as one of the healthiest things a person can do. If you get sick, you’ll surely hear recommendations from your friends to “多喝热水” (duō hē rè shuǐ), or to drink more warm water.
This also has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, as hot water has been referenced as a healthful necessity for thousands of years. The Huangdi Neijing, known as The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine in English, is considered one of the foundational texts of traditional Chinese medicine. In it, drinking hot water is promoted as a way to stay healthy, which is another important reason why hot water has been so popular in China for so long.
Alcohol drinking culture in China
Drinking in China is serious business. No, literally. While having a cold one can be a casual way to de-stress with your friends, drinking in China generally comes with more strings attached. You’ll find that many people will encourage others to drink, resulting in a room full of people who’ve had one too many. Don’t be alarmed, though, as drinking too much isn’t seen as negatively as in the West. In fact, getting drunk shows that you trust the people that you’re with and value your relationship with them, which is why it’s considered a form of team building when it comes to drinking culture in China.
That’s why you’ll often go drinking with your new colleagues or potential clients before closing the deals. Getting drunk with people you’re trying to forge a professional relationship with shows that you trust them enough to let your guard down around them, and trust is a critical part of any relationship.
While building trust with those around you sounds great, that also means that it is difficult to refuse a drink politely. In general, you’ll be in a hard position to say no to drinking if you find yourself in any of the following scenarios:
- You’re drinking with superiors. If you’re invited to a drinking event with coworkers and any of your superiors are there, you can count on being pressured to drink. And if you want to make a good impression, you’ll have to at the very least keep up with their drinking!
- You’re drinking with your clients. Since you’re the one chasing after the sale, you will want to one-up your clients by always being one glass ahead in terms of drinking.
- You have a higher standing than the people present. For example, if you have a high-paying job in a big city and visit a small town, the locals will toast in your honor. If you refuse it or don’t drink as much as they do, then you would be essentially implying that you don’t value them much.
So, what if you don’t want to get drunk at work events but also don’t want to lose face? If you don’t drink at all, then the easiest thing to do is to say that you have an alcohol allergy and drinking even the tiniest bit of alcohol will make you feel itchy all over. If you do drink regularly but don’t feel like drinking on a particular night for any reason, you can say that you’re getting over a cold and are taking some strong medication that would react poorly if you were to drink alcohol.
If you do want to drink and simply don’t want to get wasted while making a good impression on your guests, here are some tips to minimize your alcohol consumption in China:
- Try to talk as much as possible with your buddies. This will minimize the chances of someone calling you for a toast.
- Call the shots. If you’re the first one to call for group toasts, you will be the one dictating how much everyone’s drinking. For example, if someone toasts you by drinking the entire glass, that puts pressure on you to also drink your entire glass. But if you toast your peers by only having a sip, then nobody will feel pressured to finish the entire glass — and if someone does drink the entire glass, then you won’t have the pressure to finish yours yourself.
- Empty your cup discretely. Depending on how big the event is, you may be able to pour some of your drink into an empty bowl without anyone noticing.
In any case, once you’ve had some alcohol, you must brace for the worst. If you down a glass with someone, other guests will want you to do the same with them. And if you’ve downed a glass before, you’ll have a hard time explaining why you don’t want to do it again! So, just prepare for a fun night and try to make the most of it!
Proverbs about drinking in Chinese
Drinking has been an important part of Chinese culture for thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that there are many insightful proverbs about drinking in Chinese. Whether you’re looking for something to say next time you go out drinking or want to learn more about the importance of tea for Chinese society, here are some of the most popular Chengyu and sayings about drinking in Chinese:
|When drinking with a real friend, even a thousand cups aren’t enough.||酒逢知己千杯少||jiǔ féng zhī jǐ qiān bēi shǎo||jeou ferng jy jii chian bei shao|
|No feast without alcohol.||无酒不成宴||wú jiǔ bù chéng yàn||wu jeou buh cherng yann|
|What can relieve us of sorrow? Only Dukang wine can.||何以解忧？唯有杜康||hé yǐ jiě yōu? Wéi yǒu dù kāng||her yii jiee iou wei yeou duh kang|
|I’m sorry for the things I said when I was drunk.||酒后失言||jiǔ hòu shī yán||jeou how shy yan|
|The truth comes out after drinking wine.||酒后吐真言||jiǔ hòu tǔ zhēn yán||jeou how tuu jen yan|
|Wine and meat friends.||酒肉朋友||jiǔ ròu péng yǒu||jeou row perng yeou||Used to refer to fake friends with whom you can only drink wine and dine.|
|Wine, women, avarice, and temper.||酒色财气||jiǔ sè cái qì||jeou seh tsair chih||Used to describe immoral behavior.|
|Flower sky and alcohol earth.||花天酒地||huā tiān jiǔ dì||hua tian jeou dih||Used to describe hedonistic behavior.|
|Lakes of wine and forests of meat.||酒池肉林||jiǔ chí ròu lín||jeou chyr row lin||Refers to a life of extravagance and licentiousness.|
|Wine sack and rice bag.||酒囊饭袋||jiǔ náng fàn dài||jeou nang fann day||Used to describe someone useless who only lives to drink and eat.|
|Tea and zen are the same flavors.||禅茶一味||chán chá yī wèi||charn char i wey||Understand life through tasting tea and pursuing a higher level of spiritual cultivation.|
|Seven essentials required for life: firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea.||开门七件事：柴米油盐酱醋茶||kāi mén qī jiàn shì: chái mǐ yóu yán jiàng cù chá||kai men chi jiann shyh chair mii you yan jianq tsuh char||These are commonly referred to as the seven necessities of life.|
|Over a cup of tea or after dinner.||茶余饭后||chá yú fàn hòu||char yu fann how||Used to reference conversation topics that may be better suited for a leisurely occasion.|
|Once people walk away, tea becomes cold.||人走茶凉||rén zǒu chá liáng||ren tzoou char liang||Used to describe how emotions fade away when people walk out of your life.|
|Doesn’t even have the heart to drink tea or eat rice.||茶饭无心||chá fàn wú xīn||char fann wu shin||Used to describe someone being overly anxious.|
|To prepare three types of tea and six types of food.||三茶六饭||sān chá liù fàn||san char liow fann||Used to describe very attentive hospitality.|
|When you drink water, think of its source.||饮水思源||yǐn shuǐ sī yuán||yiin shoei sy yuan||One should be grateful for favors from others.|
|When drinking water out of a well, one should never forget those who dug it.||吃水不忘挖井人||chī shuǐ bú wàng wā jǐng rén||chy shoei bwu wanq ua jiing ren||Never forget those who helped you along the way.|
FAQs about drinks and beverages in Chinese
1. What are the measure words for drinks in Chinese?
If you’ve been taking Mandarin Chinese classes for a while now, then you already know the importance of measure words. Luckily, there aren’t too many measure words to keep track of for ordering drinks, as most beverages come in cups. Here are the measure words for beverages in Chinese:
|A glass of draft beer||扎||zhā||ja|
2. How do you order drinks in Chinese?
The most basic structure for ordering drinks is the following:
- 我要 + number + measure word + drink
This is the standard procedure for ordering drinks in Chinese and can be customized based on the number of drinks that you want, the type of container you want your drink in, and, of course, the type of drink you want. All you have to do is fill in the blanks with whatever your heart desires and, voilà! You’ve got yourself your perfect drink.
As you can see, the basic structure starts with 我要 (wǒ yào), which means I want. Another common way of ordering food or beverages in Chinese is to say 给我来 (gěi wǒ lái), which literally translates into “provide me with” or you can simply say 来 (lái).
If need be, you can customize your drink order even further. Here are some common customizations:
If you’d like to choose a cup size, you can choose from one of the following:
- 小杯 (xiǎo bēi) — small cup
- 中杯 (zhōng bēi) — medium cup
- 大杯 (dà bēi) — large cup
- 超大杯 (chāo dà bēi) — very large cup
Where it gets a bit confusing is that you have to mention this after mentioning the measure word for the first time. So, for example, if you want to order two large coffees, you would say “我要两杯大杯咖啡” (wǒ yào liǎng bēi dà bēi kā fēi), which literally translates into “I want two cups of large cup coffee.”
You can also specify if you want to add anything extra to your beverage by using the verb 加 (jiā), which means to add. You can also simply say 要 (yào) again to add any special requests or toppings. For example, you can tack it on at the end of your order if you want to add sugar to your coffee.
You can ask for your beverages hot, cold, or room temperature:
|Cold||冰的||bīng de||bing de|
|Hot||热的||rè de||reh de|
|Room temperature||常温||cháng wēn||charng uen|
If you do end up getting a cold drink, you will very likely be asked about ice. Ice in China is not as ubiquitous as in the US, and most convenience stores and even grocery stores don’t sell bags of ice as they do in the States. The reason is — you guessed it — the preference for hot water over iced water. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that most people prefer iced drinks with just a little ice. Here’s how to ask for the right amount of ice:
|Add ice||加冰||jiā bīng||jia bing|
|Less ice||少冰||shǎo bīng||shao bing|
|More ice||多冰||duō bīng||duo bing|
|No ice||去冰||qù bīng||chiuh bing|
For drinks like coffee and milk tea, you’ll also want to specify just how sweet you want your drink. Here’s how to get the sweetness level right every time:
|Regular sugar||常规糖||cháng guī táng||charng guei tarng|
|70% sugar||七分糖||qī fēn táng||chi fen tarng|
|Half sugar||半糖||bàn táng||bann tarng|
|30% sugar||三分糖||sān fēn táng||san fen tarng|
|No sugar||无糖||wú táng||wu tarng|
For here or to go?
Finally, you’ll want to specify if you want your drink for here or to go. Fortunately, you just have to learn two things: 在这喝 (zài zhè hē), which is “to drink here” and “打包带走” (dǎ bāo dài zǒu), which means for takeaway.
Now, it’s time to put it all together. Here are some examples of drink orders in Chinese to help you get started with your first few drinks in China.
|Waiter, please bring me a cup of water.||服务员，给我来一杯水。||fú wù yuán, gěi wǒ lái yī bēi shuǐ||fwu wuh yuan geei woo lai i bei shoei|
|I want a cup of green tea.||给我来一杯绿茶。||gěi wǒ lái yī bēi lǜ chá||geei woo lai i bei liuh char|
|Waiter, give me two bottles of beer.||服务员，给我来两瓶啤酒。||fú wù yuán, gěi wǒ lái liǎng píng pí jiǔ||fwu wuh yuan geei woo lai leang pyng pyi jeou|
|I want a cup of matcha latte.||我要一杯抹茶拿铁。||wǒ yào yī bēi mǒ chá ná tiě||woo yaw i bei moo char na tiee|
|Give me three cups of milk tea.||来三杯奶茶。||lái sān bēi nǎi chá||lai san bei nae char|
|Waiter, I want a glass of coke with ice.||服务员，我要一杯可乐加冰。||fú wù yuán, wǒ yào yī bēi kě lè jiā bīng||fwu wuh yuan woo yaw i bei kee leh jia bing|
|I would like a medium-sized latte with two shots of espresso and low-fat milk.||我要一杯中杯拿铁，要双倍浓缩，低脂牛奶。||wǒ yào yī bēi zhōng bēi ná tiě, yào shuāng bèi nóng suō, dī zhī niú nǎi||woo yaw i bei jong bei na tiee yaw shuang bey nong suo di jy niou nae|
|I’ll have a cup of milk tea, medium sized, with pearls, with ice, and no sugar.||给我来一杯珍珠奶茶，中杯，加珍珠，加冰，无糖。||gěi wǒ lái yī bēi zhēn zhū nǎi chá, zhōng bēi, jiā zhēn zhū, jiā bīng, wú táng||geei woo lai i bei jen ju nae char jong bei jia jen ju jia bing wu tarng|
Fun facts about beverages in China
As you can tell by now, drinks are extremely important in China, so there are many fun facts you should know about. Here are some of our favorites:
- Legend of the god of wine. In China, Yidi is regarded as the god who invented wine during the reign of Yu the Great. According to the legend, Yidi made wine as a present for Yu the Great, who appointed him to the task of winemaking. Today, The Yidi Award is a prestigious award given out to exceptional winemakers in China every two years.
- Earliest alcoholic drink in history. A group of researchers from the Penn Museum was recently able to use chemical analyses to prove that the earliest alcoholic drink was created in the Neolithic village of Jiahu about 9,000 years ago!
- Maotai awards. China’s national spirit brand, Kweichow Moutai, is one of the most internationally awarded brands in the world, being recognized with gold medals at the Paris International Exposition in 1985 and 1986. Since its adoption as the national liquor in 1951, Maotai has routinely been used to greet foreign heads of state and in high-level business negotiations.
- Medicinal liquor. Traditional Chinese medicine relies on special liquor blends to treat all kinds of diseases. Herbs and sometimes animals are soaked in wine to create infusions that will help correct the internal Yin and Yang ratio of a person, which is said to improve physical health.
Don’t leave until you’ve had the very last drop
This was a long article, yes, but that’s a good thing! Although it may be overwhelming at first to be faced with so many drinks in Chinese, the beauty of it all is that it just means that there are plenty of drinks for you to enjoy! From ice-cold beers to yummy milk teas, there’s no shortage of delicious beverages for you to try next time you visit China.
For more expert tips on learning Chinese and navigating life in China, be sure to check out our Mandarin Chinese blog. Some of our most popular articles include our guide to telling time in Chinese and our blog with 186 ways to say I love you in Chinese. Go check them out now and keep your learning going!