When summer arrives China can get pretty hot and humid (depending on what part you’re in) so here are four Chinese “specialties” to help you cool down.
酸梅汤 suān méi tāng
This is literally “sour plum soup” although it’s not really a soup, it’s just a cold drink made from sour plums. A lot of places will make it from an instant mix that looks a bit syrupy, but if you go to small dessert shops and restaurants that aren’t chains you can sometimes find fresh stuff that they have made themselves. Look for the dregs, bits of plum floating around at the bottom, to make sure you’re getting the good stuff.
绿豆 lǜ dòu 红豆 hóng dòu
In China green beans (lǜ dòu) and red beans (hóng dòu) are used for so many things. You often find them in your loaf of bread, floating around in tea, or even in your ice cream. Okay, I know what you’re thinking “what the hell, ice cream made from beans?” but hear me out, people go to China because they want to experience something different. This is something different, so experience it! Try it with an open mind and I promise you this stuff will grow on you. All the “normal” ice cream in China is pretty bad anyway, unless you buy expensive imported Häagen-Dazs. But if that’s your thing then why bother going to China?
奶盖茶 nǎi gài chá
This is tea, usually very bitter iced green tea or oolong tea with a super sweet cream head. nǎi means milk, gài means cap or lid, and chá is tea. So it’s “milk capped tea”. In china many drinks shops will add lots of sugar so if you like your tea bitter like me you can request 半糖 (half sugar) or 无糖 (no sugar) Whether with or without sugar this stuff is icy cold and refreshing in the summer. Besides tasting great it’s also mysterious just how the milk cap sits so perfectly on top. Give it a try and see for yourself.
西瓜汁 xī guā zhī
xī guā is watermelon and zhī is juice. Like the English word juice the Chinese zhī can be placed after the name of any fruit to mean a drink made from the juice of that fruit. Watermelon is particularly popular in China. Unfortunately lots of places water their juice down, so speak to the locals to find out where you can get fresh pure watermelon juice to help you cool off in the summer.