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LAST WORDS: Why Chinese Firewater Beats Tequila!
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Why Chinese Firewater Beats Tequila!
By Rose Salas

BT 201808 Last 01白酒又名烧酒,是中国的传统饮料酒。我国祖先在商朝时代已有饮酒的习惯,并以酒祭神。当时称为社会主流的是“杜康”,是一种低酒精含量的酿制而成的米酒。我国的白酒以其丰富多彩的香型风格闻名于世,而其特殊的生产工艺在世界酿造业中更独树一帜。白酒以粮谷为主要原料,以大曲、小曲或麸曲及酒母等为糖化发酵剂,经蒸煮、糖化、发酵、蒸馏而制成的蒸馏酒。酒质无色(或微黄)透明,气味芳香纯正,入口绵甜爽净,酒精含量较高,经贮存老熟后,具有以酯类为主体的复合香味。

白酒不同于黄酒、啤酒和果酒,除了含有极少量的钠、铜、锌,几乎不含维生素和钙、磷、铁等,所含有的仅是水和乙醇(酒精)。传统认为白酒有活血通脉、消除疲劳,陶冶情操,使人轻快并有御寒提神的功能。饮用少量低度白酒可以促进血液循环,对循环系统及心脑血管有利。

酒文化作为一种特殊的文化形式,在传统的中国文化中有其独特的地位。在几千年的文明史中,酒几乎渗透到社会生活中的各个领域。因醉酒而获得艺术的自由状态,是古老中国的艺术家解脱束缚获得艺术创造力的重要途径。“李白一斗诗百篇”,“流觞曲水”等等酒醉而成传世诗作的例子在中国诗史中俯拾皆是。中华民族的大家庭中的五十六个民族中,除了信奉伊斯兰教的回族一般不饮酒外,其它民族都是饮酒的。

但外国朋友大多喝不惯白酒,甚至称其为“火酒”(Firewater)。目前白酒国际化水平比较低,其最主要的阻力是中国的文化在世界范围内不够强势,导致外国人对白酒文化不认同。除文化因素外,白酒辛辣的口感和较高的酒精度也是困扰白酒“走出去”的重要原因。中国是世界酒生产大国、酒消费大国、酒文化大国,而白酒的年出口量不到2万千升,各大酒企在国外布局主要针对的还是海外华人市场和商旅客户。不过白酒在拥有与华相似风俗习惯的韩、日市场认可度相对高一些。

如果你想了解中国,了解华夏文化,那么白酒是你的必尝饮品。在它甘冽的酒香中蕴含着中国古老的文化和悠长的历史。来到中国的朋友,不妨加入你的中国朋友的宴会,一同畅饮干杯吧!

BT 201808 Last 03“Let’s do tequila shots!”
 

Parties are not complete without a shot of your favourite tequila. A sip of pure tequila or blended in cocktails is a choice of many. Remember those teenage years when you visited a bar to take tequila shots? It sets you on a high but waking up the next day gives you a terrible hangover. That experience alone makes you say that tequila is unforgettable!
 

What can beat this indomitable liquor today?

The Chinese Baiju, also known as Shaojiu, is a white and clear alcoholic beverage made from grain and considered to have the highest concentration since it is 52% alcohol by volume. Also known as Chinese Firewater, it is the world’s most consumed form of liquor. You’ve probably never heard of this but taking a shot of this highly potent drink gives you that rapid fire and spasm-inducing feeling!
 

Chinese Firewater has popular names such as “White Lightning” and “Liquid Razor Blades”. A common site in all Chinese wedding receptions and business banquets, this famous drink has a strong and moldy favour. It is best taken with food rather than on its own. It can be purchased in glass or ceramic bottles.

BT 201808 Last 02

Bottles of Sichuan Swellfun baijiu at promotional event, Beijing

In comparison, both are distilled alcoholic beverages. Tequila has 38-40% alcohol content and is made from agave plant while Baiju can be made of grains and varieties of glutinous rice, wheat, barley, millet or sorghum. While tequila can be pure or mixed in cocktails, Baiju is sold in plain (unflavoured) or flavoured variants. Tequila has clear to dark amber brown colours which depends on the aging process and has strong aroma. Baiju, on the other hand can have 4 types of aroma- rice, light, strong, and sauce.
 

Baiju is not popular in Western countries yet. Due to its strong taste and suffocating odour, Western people would find it unpleasant and unpalatable. Business people coming over in China have somehow become accustomed to it since drinking culture is an important part of business ethics among the Chinese. Drinking Baiju can bridge cultural gaps so when you are served with it or having a “toast”, it should be downed in one gulp.
 

Taking Tequila can lower your blood pressure, aid digestion to help lose weight, and lower the chances of having dementia. Baiju health benefits are not clearly stated but drinking it will strongly remind someone of a great drinking culture in Chinese history. For example, a custom bottle will remind one of his childhood memories when his mother would mix Chinese strawberries, sugar, and grains. Other mixes would include medicinal herbs and bamboo. As you smell and take a sip, the aroma will take you to a trip down the memory lane. What a good way to relax!
 

“If you are a person who is interested in China, here’s a piece of Chinese Culture that can go right on to your Chinese table…” said James Rice, the managing director of a Baiju maker in Western China. Some US entrepreneurs are seeking to import this liquor ad rebrand to be sold locally. Though it will be challenging to get the Western people to like Baiju, many believe that this could soon become a hit in the industry. According to Derek Sandhaus, an author of a book about Baiju, “Tequila has a very unusual flavour as compared to more popular spirits; but through clever marketing, good cocktails, and good management, it’s earned a place on the bar shelf.”
 

For seekers of new spirit flavors, Baiju can surely give you a thrill. Soon, this famous beverage will be a pleasant site in all bar counters of a party trend. Move over Tequila, Baiju is on the rise!

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