Drinking and drinks in South Korean culture

Korean non-alcoholic drinks

Drinking and eating are both a big part of Korean culture with many business deals discussed over a glass of Soju for example and with drinking in the many bars and cafes a popular social part of Korean life.

The most popular non-alcoholic drink in Korea is tea, called cha in Korean. The main type of tea that Koreans drink is green tea (nok cha), but there are also many varieties of tea made with fruit, roots or cereals. Some popular Korean teas are:

  • Insam Cha, tea made with ginseng
  • Daechucha, tea made from jujuba
  • Bori cha, tea made from barley, that Korean restaurants often offer to drink with main meals, instead of water, as it is very light

Korean Alcoholic drinks

Koreans like drinking alcohol, they drink alcohol to socialise, but Koreans drink especially during business dinners. Koreans think that only when somebody has been Koreans drinking sojudrinking they reveal their true self and therefore you know if you can trust a potential business partner.

Koreans drink alcohol in bars or in tents, called soju tents. Koreans often eat something while they drink and the snacks usually served with alcohol are called anju. Anju can be things such as peanuts, dry fruit, or dry fish, although almost any Korean dish can be served as anju.

Below there is a list with some of the most common Korean alcoholic drinks:

  • Korean Beer - There are some beer brands brewed in Korea. They are mainly lagers and the most popular are Cass, OB, Hite and Cafri
  • Soju - is the most popular Korean alcoholic drink, especially among businessmen. Soju is made from grain or from sweet potatoes, it is similar to vodka and it has high alcohol content.
  • Korean wines - Most Korean wines are made from fermented rice, sometimes with the addition of herbs or fruit, to give more flavour. There are many varieties of Korean wines and some of them also have medicinal properties. One of the most popular Korean medicinal wines is Bek Se Ju, made with fermented rice, ginseng and eleven herbs, including cinnamon and liquorice. Another popular Korean wine is made with plums mixed with soju and is called maesilju.

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