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Home Communication & Others Chinese Drinking Etiquette
Chinese Drinking Etiquette
Communication & Others
Depending on what you are drinking, the drinking rules change. Learn about how different beverages have different etiquette.


Beer is served everywhere. Don’t be surprised when you find minors are drinking. Because it’s not prohibited in China.
If you want cold beer,  be sure you mentioned it to the waitor or waitress.

“Bai jiu” (白酒) tastes like vodka. Be sure not to sniff it before you drink or you might gag. It is made from fermented rice. It tastes pungent. Half of a glass can possible get you drank, if your capacity for liquor is not that well.
Cold drinks are not usually served at restaurants in China. 98% of the time you will have a cup of steaming hot tea. Sometimes people will order a 2-liter of soda, but it us room temperature.

Wine is not as popular in China as it is in the west.

According to an old Chinese saying:
"A thousand cups of wine is not too much when bosom friends meet

 In fact, drinking together is an essential part of socializing and camaraderie. Thus, as any code of social conduct, it adheres to strict rules:
  • One should never refuse to participate in a toast, as that could be interpreted as being Impolite. All people sitting at the same table must stand up, upon the initiative of one of the guests, and toast in succession;
  • Unlike Europeans and Americans, in China, looking someone in the eye when you toast is not imperative. It actually never happens. Don’t be offended, or wait for them to look you in the eye.
  • Elderly people and superiors should be served first. One should pay attention not to raise his/her glass higher than those of the respected elders; and
  • If “gan bei”(干杯) is called, don’t worry, “gan bei” does not mean you have to finish your drink (despite the literal translation of “dry cup”). Just take a sip and put your cup down.
  • If you are at a bar, don’t be shy about saying that you don’t want to drink anymore. The Chinese people can hold their liquor (most of the time). Don’t feel the need to keep up.


Fresh, clean, bottled water is everywhere in China. It costs between 1-2 RMB per 12 oz bottle.


  • Drink it slowly. Some types of tea cost thousands of RMB per bag. Never ask for ice or sugar for your tea.
  • If you ever pour tea for someone else, fill the cup 3/4 full. (When pouring alcohol, top it off, brim to the rim.)
  • When someone hands you a cup of tea, take it with two hands. When you give someone a cup of tea, use two hands. (One hand on the bottom, on hand on the side).
  • When drinking tea, it is polite to use two hands.
  • When someone pours you more tea, it’s polite to touch the side of the teacup as they pour it, and be sure to say “Xie xie” (谢谢), or thank you.

China Yellow Pages