Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, February 11 –These are pictures I’ve collected of fancy bottles of baijiu being sold during the Chinese New Year festivities. Baijiu is Chinese “white liquor,” most commonly made from sourghum. I personally have never tasted it, and don’t plan to, but it is supposedly strong stuff! I read that the Chinese drink the ones that are 60-120%proof, but those exported are more like 50% proof. It is a regular part of Chinese business dinners, where the men present (but not the women) are expected to drink it. If you want to read more about it, try here http://baijiuamerica.com/what-is-baijiu/ . I’ve been tempted to buy some at this time of year, just for the bottle! This is the only panda bottle I’ve ever seen; most are the floral ones. If you would like to add to this or correct me if I’m wrong, please do in the comments!
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, December 3 – I am back in China and ready to finish my year of “A Picture a Day” up. I’ve posted before about the fact that you don’t drink the tap water here, and that we have bottled water in our home. When I was back in the USA, I enjoyed the ability to get drinks at drinking fountains while out shopping. There are no drinking fountains in China. If you want a drink of water when you are out shopping, you buy a bottle of water. These pictures are from the Hong Kong Airport. Still not regular drinking fountains, but quite fancy “Water Zones.” Leah said the Chinese says “Drinking Water.” They have hot, cold or room temperature water available. The one on the left was from when we left HK; it also has fluid disposal because you can’t take any drinks or filled bottles on the planes, even if you have bought them at the airport! The picture on the right was after we arrived back in HK and were in the area waiting for a ferry to return to mainland China. Here, they even had ice available!
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, November 4 – You can buy soooo many kinds of tea in China! I love tea and really haven’t found many I don’t like yet! But… in the past, when I saw ‘cheese” and “tea” together, I was very hesitant. Well, we FINALLY realized that the “cheese” is a soft cream cheese topping that is added to the tea, and it is DELICIOUS! Imagine a cheesecake with your tea :-) There are different kinds, but what we have had twice now is called “Hai yan zhi shi nai gai”; That is translated as “Sea salt cheese milk cap,” and you choose if you want it on black or green tea, or others depending on the shop. The first time we tried it, there were even directions on the lid for how to drink it! You don’t put your straw in and drink like with most iced teas, you sip from the cup, tipping it just enough to get a little of the cream cheese while you drink the tea. The first time I had this, it was on the menu as “Riyuetan Pool Black Tea Milk cap,” nothing about the cheese in English, the “riyuetan” means “sun and moon pool.” Today, we tried it at a new little drink shop at our plaza, no English on their menu, thankfully I have Leah to help! The shop is called “Tea Get” :-) We agreed that the mascot looks awfully similar to an M & M character! Hmmm....yes, we live in China! Milk caps are common for iced tea, but I haven’t tried any other than this cheese kind. Has anyone else? How are they?
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, October 7 – These are some vending machines from our local shopping plaza. They have an interesting mixture of items available: drinks, snacks (raisins, nuts, seaweed, cookies, etc.), gum, ginger candy, dried fruit, tissue packs, and cigarettes! www.myownchinesebrocade.com
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, September 27 – Fruit “tea” isn’t really tea as Westerners think of tea, but it is fruit water. It is popular with either dried or fresh fruit, or a mixture. I like to make it for something slightly sweet, and it’s good hot or cold. Today I put in honey dates, red dates, longans and orange peel. I’d say it’s best to leave it sit at least 20 minutes after adding hot water. You can add water once or twice more, and depending how long you’ve left it sit, sometimes the fruit is still yummy to eat :-) www.myownchinesebrocade.com
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, September 17 – Corn Juice is a fairly common drink in China. I’ve had the basic kind, which is just sweetened corn juice, like the picture on the right, which is from our Pizza Hut menu. This one is served hot and is actually pretty good :-) The other day we saw the sign on the left in a little food court area in Dongguan, unfortunately after we had just had some tea, or I would have tried something new! It was for freshly squeezed corn juice, mixed with other ingredients: red bean, mung bean, black bean, banana, papaya and black sesame, as well as just plain corn. The advertising promotes it as fresh, healthy and natural, saying it is good for the stomach, spleen, protects against cancer, prevents aging and improves memory! Quite a list, if it’s true, I’ll try it just for the last two! You can also buy corn candy and corn ice cream bars here :-) (Thanks again to Leah for the help with translation)
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 18 – Black sesame is another food/drink that you don’t see much in the USA but it is common in China. It is often used in desserts as a soup/paste/porridge or drink, or as a filling inside rice balls. For the soup, it is usually mixed with rice, water and sugar. You can buy “instant” powder that you just add water to, or, it’s supposed to be easy to make your own, but we haven’t done that yet! We have found that the powder in the supermarkets also usually have milk and peanuts in them (a no-no for me!). The brand we buy is from Hong Kong and is peanut and dairy free and has less sugar than the others. You can also buy special flavors like red date, walnut, etc. Black sesame is also used in Traditional Chinese medicine as it is high in B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. It is used for anti-aging, a lactation aid for nursing mothers, and to treat anemia, digestion and constipation, and to reduce blood pressure! I don’t know why, but it tends to keep me awake at night, so I stick to having it in the daytime. I like to add enough water to drink it, but I think it is supposed to be thicker if you have it true Chinese-style. The supermarkets have quite a large section as you can see by the area of black packages in the picture. On one side is oatmeal and the other is walnut milk powder.
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 15 – Last week, when we were at the supermarket in the next town, we bought this drink to try, but it’s not something we see a lot, it is different from the usual supermarket stock. Leah and I like studying the unusual drinks in the Chinese supermarkets :-)This one is white fungus and bird’s nest. Both ingredients are popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine, however, bird’s nests are extremely expensive, so for the low price we paid for this drink, I doubt there is more than a minute trace, if any, actually in this can! It was listed last in the ingredients. Edible bird’s nests are made by swiftlets and are made from the bird’s saliva! Quoting this from online: “At as much as $4,500 per pound, edible birds' nests are among the most expensive foods on the planet.” There are different varieties, so it runs between about $1,000-5,000 usd per pound. Other information called white fungus “the poor man’s bird’s nest” because it supposedly has many of the same healing properties for a small fraction of the cost. After opening the drink and tasting it today, it was mostly sugar! Basically sugar water with white fungus! You could see the pieces of white fungus in it. It didn’t taste bad, but it was much too sweet for me!
Honeysuckle is called Jinyin hua in Chinese. “Jinyin hua” literally translates as “gold silver flower,” because when the flowers first bloom, they are white (silver) then turn yellow (gold). Last week when we went to Walmart, we saw the dried flowers for honeysuckle tea, which is popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Then yesterday, we saw these cans and bottles of a honeysuckle drink. Leah said that the Chinese character after honeysuckle means “alcohol” (Hmmm, honeysuckle wine? Not for 3.5rmb a can!) ….but there is no alcohol in it! Another example of how Chinese words can have multiple meanings. It sounded interesting so I got some to try and had it this afternoon. It was too sweet for my liking, but the honeysuckle flavor was nice. The taste reminded me of the Wang lao ji drink I wrote about on January 23, which also has honeysuckle in it. It is best known for fighting bacterial and viral infections, helping reduce inflammation, reducing toxins, and good for use in the summer heat. The flowers, which is what the tea is made from, are considered very safe, but when using the stems and leaves you have to be careful not to use too much. There are supposed to be about 200 species of honeysuckle and three are known for their healing properties. I guess I don’t have to feel so bad when I think of all the honeysuckle I’ve pulled from my flower beds in the past in the USA, it did smell good, but probably wasn’t the right kind for tea :-)
Many countries around the world drink raw sugar cane juice and China is one of them. Most often, we see vendors who you can buy a piece of sugar cane from. They cut the outer part off, then you chew the pulp, suck the juice out, and spit the pulp back out once you’ve gotten all of the juice. I tried it years ago and wasn’t crazy about the pulp chewing. Sometimes, you see stands where they have machines to extract the juice, then you can buy a cup or bottle and just drink it. It’s really not bad, and is actually lower than Coca-Cola on the glycemic index! Coke is in the 60’s, raw sugar cane juice in the 30’s -40’s. This stand is at a Food Festival at the shopping plaza near us. We bought a small bottle for 5rmb ( 75 cents usd). Just took a few sips, but I’m going to try it as a sweetener in some baking.