Though Japan is infamous (and rightly so) for its weird and bizarre soft drinks, China is quickly narrowing the gag gap with its own unique canned & bottled horrors. These ten terrifying tipples may not be available in your local supermarket unless you've been Shanghai'd, so to speak, but that's a GOOD thing. Just consider yourself lucky China doesn't export everything they make.
Bizarre Drink #10) Bird's Nest Drink: The OTHER Nest Tea
You've heard of Bird's Nest Soup, that age-old Chinese delicacy made from the nests of cave-dwelling swiftlet birds... which are made from the bird's hardened saliva?
Now you can enjoy the inviting, invigorating and involuntarily gag-inducing taste of this glutinous gastronomic “delight” anywhere you roam, including caves. Canned Bird's Nest Drink like the “Super” brand above is said to be “succulent”. That's what it says on the can, and that's about as close as I'm getting to tasting it. (bizarre Chinese drink image via Virtual Tourist)
Bizarre Drink #9) Crunchy Water Chestnut Drink: You're Nuts!
“These water chestnuts are making me thirsty,” and Crunchy Water Chestnut Drink seems to be a classically Kramer-esque solution to that problem. You've probably enjoyed the crunchy, watery, rather bland flavor of water chestnuts in take-out Chinese food staples like Cantonese Chow Mein.
Good to know that there's a canned, drinkable version for fans of all things crunchy, watery and rather bland. By the way, another name for a water chestnuts is Bat Nuts, which hardly makes Crunchy Water Chestnut Drink more appealing... unless your name is Robin. (bizarre Chinese drink image via John Pasden)
Bizarre Drink #8) Dry Ice Bubble Tea: The Horror!
Don't try this at home, kids, leave it to the proprietors of a Beijing outdoor cafe since they know what they're doing... yeah, right!
Consider the fact that the frozen nodules of carbon dioxide merrily bubbling away in your tea are about as cold as the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth: -109.3 °F or -78.5 °C to be exact. At that temp, swallow a cube inadvertently and “frozen nodules” will be the least of your worries (though a significant one at that). Those brave or ignorant enough to try Dry Ice Bubble Tea are advised to sip, not slurp, through the thoughtfully provided extra-wide straw. (bizarre Chinese drink image via Rocketnews24)
Bizarre Drink #7) Yida Sports Guo Cu: “PMS in a Can”
Getting info on Sports Guo Cu in a can isn't easy, especially since the company website of Hebei Yida Food Group Co. went 404... presumably the company itself followed suit.
How then to describe this colorfully packaged beverage? “More than 200 symptoms and worries conveniently packaged in a portable form for moodswings on the go,” raves one reviewer who managed to snap up a can before it was too late. “The drink itself smells like most girls do: a musky combination of cherry and strawberry. Same goes for the taste - it's a non-carbonated watery emulsion containing the taste of various fruits that end in “berry”. Lovely, can't wait until they re-open again in Pakistan. (bizarre Chinese drink image via Foxxyz)
Bizarre Drink #6) Yunnan Olive Juice: It's the Pits
If you could turn a martini inside out, what would you get? Why would you even try? Things didn't work out too well for the disgusting Pig-Lizard from Galaxy Quest (it exploded) so it's recommended you satisfy your weird obsession by buying a can of Yunnan Olive Juice.
The Pig-Lizard is your responsibility so put those beer-goggles on, it's almost closing time! Yunnan Olive Juice is said to “taste bitter and sour first and then fresh and sweet.” Well OK, so do a LOT of things most folks would much rather drink. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm trying to stuff a pimento into an airline mini-bottle of gin. (bizarre Chinese drink image via 21Food)
Bizarre Drink #5) Orthodox Coconut Juice: So Un-Unorthodox!
Ah, the many mysteries of Orthodox Coconut Juice... starting with what the heck is it called?? From the top down we see “Orthodox Coconut Palm Brand”, “State Banquet Beverage”, “Coconut Palm” and “Coconut Juice”. Isn't that helpful? They might as well add “Put de lime in de coconut and drink dem both together;” maybe that's on the other side of the can.
The curious “State Banquet Beverage” stands out like a sore thumb. Did State Banquet make this beverage or are the makers recommending it be served AT state banquets? Somehow I just can see Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II clinking glasses with some foreign mountebank and chugging down a champagne flute filled with canned coconut juice... unless, perhaps, Her Royal Highness isn't liked very much in China what with that whole Opium War and Burning of Peking incident way back when. (bizarre Chinese drink image via Foxxyz)
Bizarre Drink #4) Baby Mice Wine: Slip Me a Mickey!
Hey bartender, can I have another glass of that delicious Ice Wine, but without the tequila worm this ti... what? WHAT??? After they had cleared the bar and hosed down the walls (and patrons), I paid a small fine and took a closer look at Baby Mice Wine, the drink that comes in on tiny little feet and leaves you feeling not quite all rat.
Supposedly, newborn mice are dropped into a bottle of wine where they quickly drown – actually, I can think of a few worse ways to go. The drink is made and sold in China and Korea where it's said to be a miraculous cure-all for all sorts of ailments. Try selling it here and you'll have Bob & Doug McKenzie wannabes taking bottles back to the LCBO in an attempt to score a whole non-mouse-infused case. Take off, eh! (bizarre Chinese drink image via Junch.com)
Bizarre Drink #3) Asparagus Juice Drink: Smell Ya Later!
Asparagus has a somewhat unsavory reputation for infusing one's urine with a distinctive aroma, and that's putting it mildly. All the more reason for canning the juice of the vile veggie... uh wait, they're doing it wrong?
On top of that, asparagus is a natural diuretic which means it makes you go more often. Yep, just what you want when you want to make a lasting first impression that will linger longer. Asparagus Juice Drink sold in bottles and cans usually comes from Taiwan, where it seems no other fruits or vegetables worthy of juicing get, er, juiced. Oh well, just gotta go with the flow I guess. (bizarre Chinese drink image via Soni2006)
Bizarre Drink #2) Gasoline: The OTHER Firewater
Gasoline isn't some new comestible competitor for Red Bull, it's the inflammable combustible you fill your fuel tank with... unless you're a 71-year-old Chinese dude who we sincerely hope is a non-smoker. Chen Dejun has been guzzling gas for 42 years – most of us regular folks employ hot coffee to get our motors running in the morning. Chen drinks from 3 to 3.5 kilograms of gasoline every month and he estimates that over the past four decades he's consumed about 1.5 tons gasoline.
He's got his reasons... what, you thought he was just some nutcase? Chen says he first started drinking gasoline in an effort to cure his chest pains, after his prescribed medicine didn't work and some “other folks” suggested he try drinking gas. Little did Chen know that the expression “Go drink gas!” is a variation of the old STFU & GTFO. Who's laughing now, evil Other Folks? By the way, I'm assuming the gas Chen drinks is of the unleaded variety but this is China, so you never know. (bizarre Chinese drink image via M.I.C Gadget)
Bizarre Drink #1) The Jew's Ear Juice: That's Not Kosher!
How thirsty would one have to be to drink The Jew's Ear Juice? Pretty, pretty thirsty I'm guessing – like, uh, 40 years in the desert thirsty. The can reads “Quality Jew's ear selected from Changbai Mountain,” which I suppose is slightly reassuring though maybe Mount Sinai would have been preferable.
The Jew's Ear in question here actually is a form of mushroom also known as Black Wood Ear. Odd that the marketing genius who named The Jew's Ear Juice didn't suggest it be called The Black Wood Ear's Juice instead, but who are we to question the choices of China's marketers? They did a fine job with the other drinks on this list, amiright?
In any case, reading the side of a can of The Jew's Ear Juice reveals it contains pure water, black wood ear (Jew's ear), haw (Chinese hawthorn), big Chinese date, sugar, honey, sodium of citric acid, and stabilizer. Fine, but is it kosher?
Last but not least, lucky buyers of The Jew's Ear Juice will be pleased to find a bonus The Jew's Ear Juice bottle opener (left) included with every can. By that logic we're assuming a can opener is included with every bottle. (bizarre Chinese drink image via Mike Saechang)
Now let it said that narrowing a list of bizarre Chinese drinks down to just 10 requires that dozens, perhaps hundreds of odd, weird, unusual and unpalatable drinks be left by the wayside.
Take “Grass Jelly Drink” for example – it's commonly sold in cans and bottles both in and around China and in Asian markets around the world but it's not really made from grass of the lawn variety and by all accounts, tastes pretty good... and besides, we've gotta leave something to lead off a follow-up list, hmm? (bizarre Chinese drink image via Daily Mail UK, top title image via IBTimes)
* * *
For more fun articles, you may like Fun Stuff for Animal Lovers.