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Chinese Alcohol, Chinese Spirits


What is the history of Chinese alcohol?

In China, alcohol is also called the "Water of History" because stories of liquor can traced back to almost every period in Chinese history. It is believed that China has about 4,000 years of history. A legend said that Yi Di, the wife of the first dynasty's King Yu (about 2100 BC) invented the method to make alcohol.

In ancient China, since alcohol was regarded as a sacred liquid only when people made sacrificial offerings to Heaven and the Earth or ancestors was it used. After the Zhou dynasty, alcohol was deemed as one of the Nine Rites, and every dynasty put great emphasis on alcohol administration to set up special ministries to manage alcohol production and banqueting. Later, along with the development of zymotechnics and brewery, alcohol became an ordinary drink. Thus, many customs concerning alcohol formed and evolved which had and have various relationships with Chinese daily life.

Liquor and its brewing technology were once introduced from neighboring regions during the Han, Tang and Yuan Dynasties. During the Tang dynasty, liquor was popular and was highly praised by many famous poets. It was served as a designated offering for the Royal Ancestral Temple during the Yuan Dynasty.

In the beginning, millet was the main grain to make alcohol, the so-called “yellow wine.” Then rice became more popular. It was not until the 19th century that distilled drinks became more popular. After the fermentation process, Chinese alcohol has a balmy fragrance and is sweet-tasting, with no sharpness. Traditionally, Chinese distilled liquors are consumed together with food rather than drunk on their own. Alcohol always accompanies delicious dishes, either when people first meet or when old friends have a reunion.

Alcohol is part of Chinese folklore. In modern China, alcohol retains its important role in folklore despite many social vicissitudes. It still appears in almost all social activities, and the most common circumstances are birthday parties for seniors, wedding feasts and sacrificial ceremonies in which liquor is the main drink to show happiness or respect.

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