A Local Drink in Beijing 酸梅汤 (Sūan Méi Tāng)

June 7, 2016
Editor: Rong Chen
A Local Drink in Beijing 酸梅汤 (Sūan Méi Tāng)
A glass of 'suanmeitang', or plum juice, and plums [qingzhenmeisi.com]


Suanmeitang, or sour plum juice, is a renowned local beverage in Beijing, and a great choice to drink during summertime as it offers welcome relief from the heat.

Mixed with a blend of Chinese herbs, suanmeitang is slightly salty. It is also sweet and rather sour, too. The ingredients include licorice root, sweet osmanthus, and frequently rose blossoms. It is made in boiling water with soaked and prepared sour plums and sugar, much like boiling a soup. The taste is great when it is chilled or has cooled down.

This particular beverage is favored by Chinese for its health benefits as well as its fragrant aftertaste. Beneficial effects include improving digestion, building appetite and aiding diarrhea. Some even claim that it inhibits the buildup of lactic acid in the body.

In terms of its history, suanmeitang is a traditional Chinese beverage that has existed for over a thousand years, dating back to the Song Dynasty (960–1279).

Most Chinese consume too much salt and too little potassium, an eating pattern that puts them at higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. In summer especially, people sweat a lot, and will take in more salt to compensate, further increasing the burden on the heart.

A tall glass of suanmeitang can help shift the balance, as tests have revealed that smoked plum or dark plum is rich in potassium compounds.

Homemade Recipe for Suanmeitang to Help Beat the Heat


– Dried Plums 100g

– Dried Hawthorn 100g

– Licorice 10g

– Sweet Osmanthus 5g (optional)

– Rock sugar or White sugar (according to taste)

– Water 1.5l


– Pour the water into a large pot, and soak the plums, hawthorn and licorice for 30 minutes

– Bring to the boil, and simmer for 30 minutes

– Add sugar and sweet osmanthus, simmer for 2 more minutes

– Turn off the heat, leave to cool

– Strain and store in the refrigerator

– Drink it as a tea

Tips: Plum, hawthorn and licorice can be found in Chinese herbal and grocery stores.

(Source: Beijing Morning Post /Translated and edited by Women of China)

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