Chinese Liquor Baijiu

BY CchattyArticleChinese Culture
Release time:2018-01-17
Tag: Tea and Wine
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What is baijiu? It is Chinese liquor made from grain, Chinese liquor has over 5000 years. It has many brands, and Maotai is the most famous baijiu brand in China. There are many things about Baijiu you should know before drinking.
part 1

Chinese Liquor Baijiu

Chinese Liquor Baijiu

Baijiu (白酒 pinyinbáijiǔ), also known as Shaojiu or archaically as sorghum liquor. It is a Chinese liquor beverage made from grain. Baijiu means "white (clear) liquor" or liquor, and is an active distilled spirit, generally between 40 and 60% liquor by volume.

Baijiu has a long history of thousands of years in China and plays an essential role in the Chinese daily life. Chinese people had known how to brew liquor thousands of years ago. As a particular form of culture, baijiu has occupied a specific position in traditional Chinese culture. Chinese people have deep feelings for baijiu. In China, baijiu has already permeated many fields of the society, just like salt, it almost becomes the indispensable Chinese necessity.

Baijiu has an excellent function to people. It can also promote human blood circulation. As a result, it is helpful for people to maintain the beauty and keep young according to the medical theory. It believed that drinking the moderate amount of baijiu benefit the human body. Also, Chinese medicine practitioners have used the medicinal liquor to treat some diseases for thousands of years. Baijiu is a good thing but doesn't drink too much every day.

part 2

The origin of Chinese Baijiu

Chinese Liquor Baijiu -  The origin of Chinese Baijiu

The exact origins of baijiu are unclear. There are two legends about the originals of Chinese baijiu in the history.

First: The Legend of Du Kang making baijiu. According to the historical writing records, Chinese baijiu history can be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC ), and it said that is Du Kang. He is an emperor of Xia Dynasty in ancient China, and he invented the baijiu thousands of years ago. Du Kang made significant contributions to the sorghum baijiu brewing methods, and he was honored as the liquor originator by Chinese. (it is said that Du Kang’s son invented the Chinese vinegar)

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - The origin of Chinese Baijiu

Second: The Legend of fairy making baijiu. There is a Maotai village on the riverside of Guizhou province. There is a few people live in this village. Every house may be making baijiu. One winter, the weather was freezing. After a succession of heavy snow, the town looked all white with snow. The icy wind chilled people. At this time, there was a thin girl who was walking hard in the cold valley. She went to the door of a wealthy house and knocked for a while. The owner of the house opened the door. He cried impatiently, "what are you doing on such a cold day?" The girl shook her body in the cold wind and said, "master, give me some baijiu to warm up. The rich man looked up and saw that the girl's head was dirty and her feet were bare feet. He shouted by covering his nose with his hand, "Get out of here! 

Then the poor girl went to a hut. In that cabin there lived an old woman and an old man. The old woman heard the girl's cry, she came out and opened the door,saying sadly:” Girl, quick come in, such cold weather, don't freeze badly!" Then she invited the girl into the room and brought her a bowl of hot baijiu.” Quick, drink this baijiu and make your body worm." The old woman left the girl at her house for the night. In the middle of the night, the old woman suddenly dreamed of a fairy, holding a luminous cup. The fairy had two red ribbons on her shoulder.

The fairy purling the nectar from the luminous cup to the Maotai village, and a clear stream appeared in the town. The elf said to the old woman, "this stream can make baijiu. Strangely, the old woman's husband also made a similar dream! The next day, the old woman got up and saw that there was a particular stream in the village. So the village people made baijiu from the streams in the stream. It was amazing that, after that, the baijiu made of the poor became more and more fragrant. The poor made the baijiu named Maotai Baijiu.

part 3

5 types of Baijiu

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - wuliangye

There are five types of Baijiu. It’s include Sauce fragrance, Strong fragrance, Light fragrance, Rice fragrance and mixed fragrance. Different people have different preferences.

1Sauce fragrance (酱香, jiàng xiāng) Also known as MAO fragrance. Guizhou Maotai baijiu is the representative.  The scent of liquor aroma but not colorful, low and not light, elegant fragrance, not strong. Aftertaste is making people boundless.

2Strong fragrance (浓香, nòng xiāng) Also known as Luzhou laojiao in Sichuan province. Strong fragrance-flavor baijiu has the characteristics of aromatic, soft, sweet, harmonious. It is also the primary basis for judging the quality of intense fragrance style. The main body of the typical form is ethyl acetate, which has a high aroma.

3Light fragrance (清香qīng xiāng) It’s known as fen Xiang, Shanxi Xinghua village Fenjiu is the leading representative. Light fragrance baijiu tastes harmonious, and the smell is pure and soft. The main component is ethyl acetate and ethyl lactate. That is the primary aroma of the baijiu. Its characteristic is clear, cold, liquor, net.

4Rice fragrance (米香, mǐxiāng) This style of baijiu is soft, elegant and pure. It's soft to drink and taste very good. Sanhua baijiu

5Mixed fragrance (兼香, jiānxiāng) It is usually referred to the complex flavor type, both two or more central body aroma of baijiu. This kind of baijiu in the brewing process accept the light scent and receive the essence of healthy fragrance baijiu and sauce fragrance baijiu. By the inherit and carry forward the traditional brewing process, mixed flavor types had been made.

part 4

Baijiu brands

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - Maotai     

      Maotai (Chinese: 茅台;pinyin: máotái)

Liquor: 53%

It is arguably the most famous Chinese Baijiu as one of the world's top three liquors, has been 800 years of history. It produced in a town called Maotai, in the city of Renhuai of Guizhou province.

Maotai is the forefathers of sauce-fragranced, it offers an exceptionally pure, mild, and mellow soy sauce-like fragrance that lingers after consumed. Only the spring in place of Maotai village can produce the taste of Moutai baijiu. The same process, but change the water source flavor is different, so Maotai baijiu has uniqueness. That’s why it can be a luxury.

      Wu Liang Ye(Chinese: 五粮液; pinyin: Wǔliángyè)

Liquor: 52%

Wu Liang Ye is made from wheat, rice, corn, sorghum and glutinous rice grains. With a lasting fragrance and mellow and luscious taste, it is classified as "sauce-fragranced."

      Luzhou Lao Jiao(Chinese:泸州老窖;pinyin:lúzhōulǎojiào)

Liquor: 52%

One of the oldest of the four famous Chinese " Luzhou originator, dean of baijiu. It produced in Luzhou city of Sichuan province. Luzhou’s liquor making skills have reached a high degree of excellence. Especially as the birthplace of Chinese Luzhou flavor baijiu, Luzhou Laojiao pit with 400 years of history, enjoy the "China's first pit" of reputation.

      Xifeng baijiu(Chinese: 西凤酒;pinyin:xīfèngjǐu)

Liquor: 42%

It produced in the town of baijiu willows in Baoji city Feng Xiang county in Shanxi province. It is China one of the four liquors. The typical characteristics of Xifeng-flavour liquor are like rich liquor flavor, pleasant liquor taste, harmonious liquor body and long liquor aftertaste.

      Fenjiu(Chinese: 汾酒; pinyin:fénjǐu)

Liquor: 53%

It produced in Shanxi province. It has bright liquor flavor types, the exquisite artistry, of long standing as an entrance. And fell or mouth sweet, leaving after drinking with a long finish, the characteristic is known. In the domestic and overseas consumers have higher visibility, reputation, and loyalty. Historically, Fenjiu had been three times brilliant: Fenjiu has a long history of 4000 years, 1500 years ago in the northern and southern dynasties, Fenjiu as the court by the liquor WuCheng emperor enshrines, be loaded 24 chronicles, make Fenjiu instant fame.

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - jiannanchun baijiu

       Jiannanchun(Chinese: 剑南春; pinyin:jiánnánchūn)

Liquor: 52%

The Mianzhu Jiannanchun produced in Mianzhu County, Sichuan. Famed as "the Hometown of Liquors," Mianzhu County was so named because of its engagement in bamboo planting and liquor making. The famous baijiu "Jian Nan Shao Chun" (early Jian Nan Chun) known far and near produced as early as in Tang Dynasty. It classified as “strong fragrance” type.

      Gujing Tribute Liquor(Chinese:古井贡酒; pinyin:gǔjǐnggóngjǐu)

Liquor: 45%

Gujing Tribute Liquor, produced by the Gujing Distillery in Bozhou City, Anhui Province, was first produced more than 1,800 years ago. It is named "peony baijiu," known as one of the eight famous Chinese liquor. It classified as” Strong fragrance” type. The drink smells like a secluded orchid, and its taste is mellow but lingers.

      Dongjiu(Chinese:董酒; pinyin:dǒngjǐu)

Liquor: 46%

Dongjiu is one of the eight famous Baijiu in China, which produced in Zunyi City of Guizhou province. Dongjiu has a particular production technology, the specific ratio of the trace ingredients and unique style. Its fragrance is weak and doesn't match the Maotai flavor. It’s perfect to drink.

part 5

Baijiu Drinking Manners

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - Baijiu Drinking Manners

Chinese brewing baijiu can be traced back to ancient times, and the drinking culture or the culture of advising licorice has a long history. In officialdom, a banquet is a place for officials to communicate with each other. So Baijiu becomes "political liquid." People use the etiquette of 敬酒 (propose a toast) and hui jing(offer a toast in return) officially.

In China, as with any culture, there are rules and customs surrounded what is appropriate. Learning the proper way to act and what to say will not only help you feel like a native, but will also make those around you more comfortable, and able to focus on you.

      Where to Sit

In general, in a Chinese dinner, the seat at the left side or in the east is the most honorable place, and the position facing the door is the most respected. Since a roundtable is the most popular using in a Chinese dinner, the prime guest should sit facing the door, and the person sitting by the door is the one who is going to pay the bill.

      How to Propose a Toast

The host should propose a toast to prime guests at first. Then the others offer a toast to top guests, followed by the high guests’ answering toast. At last, the other people should propose a toast to each other. Also, when two people clink their glasses, one should put his glass lower than the other as a sign of respect for him.

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - Baijiu Drinking Manners -cheers


Let's begin with the word "cheers." Cheers first introduced to Japan from Europe and America. In Japan, people drink liquor at a dinner party. It is the sake or beer. The leader or the elders raise the glass and say, "everyone is working hard. Cheers!"

Then take a drink, no need to drink up the liquor, just a ritual that pays attention to the atmosphere. In China, the ceremony is different. Chinese people like to say at the liquor table: "deep relationship, drink up; shallow relationship, lick a bit." How do you choose when you face a glass from an elder or a leader at a table?

 The Chinese culture of persuasion is that you have to do this, and even pour the glass back, to show that you have finished. This behavior has nothing to do with politeness or personality, which is an expression of obedience.

For the majority of a businessman, who talk business at a liquor table, drinking is a shortcut.If they make a deal, that depending on what they capability of drinking. The liquor table is also a battlefield, and there are too many rules for the liquor to be drunk, which can serve the interests and purposes of the proselytizer.

part 6

Chinese drinking rules

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - Chinese drinking rules

Many problems that can't be solved, but those can be solved when drinking, it the drinking table culture in China. Drinking is not just about alcohol; it's more about solving many problems that can't be solved at work, and talking about issues that can't be agreed at the formal negotiating table. What rules should we know?

      9 drinking rules you must know

1Drink at least one glass of liquor with at least every person at a table

2Never refuse to participate in a toast; it is considered extremely rude

3In China it is not necessary to look someone in the eye while toasting

4Elderly people and superiors should always drink first, and (干杯) ganbei in most cases still mean “drink up” if you don’t want to drink the whole cup just say “随意,” which means ”as one pleases.”

5Do does not toast before the boss or host.

6There is no need for an elaborate toast before each drink, but when a dressing someone for a toast you should say 敬你一杯 (Propose a toast to you); a respectful way of offering a toast

7If someone stands up and proposes a toast with you; you should stand up to show respect and courtesy.At the same time, politely ask the person to sit down before you sit down.

8The one who proposes a toast must drink more than the person toasted

9When proposing a toast, one should raise the glass below the glass of the person toasted, unless one is the host or boss.

      5 hidden drinking rules you should know

1Who foot the bill, which seating the guests

In China, don't be the first one to sit down before eating dinner. If your identity is distinguished or if you are Party A or if others want to seek your help, others naturally give you the main seat. Even so, you should also get the owner's permission first. Others must wait for the host to arrange a position.

2Who pay the bill, who have a higher say

If you're just a guy coming over for dinner, don't speak more than the host. Unless you are a comedy actor, show us a performance.

3 Put food on the plates of others, we must think carefully

If you are a man, don’t put food onto the plates of others, especially for a woman. Sometimes a woman dislikes others use their chopsticks take the food to her plate. She could say she is diet weight to refuse the food politely.

4 Figure out the situation before you doing something

Figure out the relationship between people around you. If a woman is sitting next to you, you should know her relationships with other people at the dinner table. When you finger out the situation, you can speak to others.

5 Pay attention to occasions

You should pay attention to circumstances when you talk to others.

part 7

Chinese poet Libai and Baijiu

Chinese Liquor Baijiu - Chinese poet Libai and Baijiu

The great poet Li Bai in the Tang Dynasty (762ad), could “write 100 poems after drinking liquor”, the more baijiu he drunk, the better the poem would be. He is one of the greatest poets in China’s Tang period. There is an exciting story about Libai after drinking, talk to the emperor.

After drinking baijiu, he said to the emperor:" The emperor, I have a small request, will you allow?" Because the emperor was eager to ask Libai to write letters, he said:" You can speak out whether you have any requirements." Li Bai said: "I just drank some liquor, so can I dress less respectfully to write the article? I hope the emperor can allow me to wear casual so that I can write the letters to meet your requirements."

After considering, the emperor said: "In this case, I will grant you make yourself at home." Li Bai said: " The shoes I'm wearing is too tight, I want to change a pair of lighter shoes." The waiters immediately took a pair of shoes for him . Having this opportunity. Li Bai glanced at Gao Lishi and said: "Take off my shoes for me!"(Gao Lishi is a famous eunuch of the Tang dynasty) Gao has never thought that Li Bai will come to a sudden attack. In the case of no psychological preparation, Gao Lishi kneeled down naturally, unexpectedly to help Li bai take off his boots.

Libai ‘s poem about Baijiu

Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases

And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!

人生得意须尽欢, 莫使金樽空对月

Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed.

Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back!

天生我材必有用, 千金散尽还复来 

Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,   

And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!   

烹羊宰牛且为乐, 会须一饮三百杯

Flowers among one jar liquor

Alone carouse without mutual intimate


Raise up cup to greet bright moon

Facing shadow become three persons


part 8


Chinese Liquor Baijiu -  Significance

However, every coin has two sides; liquor also can cause some negative influence on the society in China. Chinese love drinking liquor very much. Entirely drinking a moderate amount of liquor is good.

However, excessive drinking is not only bad for health but sometimes can also cause severe consequences, like drunken driving. In China, each year there were many people have been killed in car accident, and drunk driving causes a significant rate of the accidents. Therefore, to express the feelings of love for liquor more reasonably is very necessary. Only in this way can we make Chinese liquor culture to be healthier.