Sometimes, a few westerners forget that “foreigner in China” does not exactly mean “westerner.” The word is more general than that. Typically, if I am tasked to describe the foreign experience in the Middle Kingdom, I divide all expats into two groups at first: Asian and non-Asian. Simply put, the Japanese, Koreans, Malaysians, and more also do a lot of business here, too. Those cultures actually have a lot more in common than one might think.
Take, for example, plum wine — it’s a huge deal in both Korea and Japan. Some Americans — like myself — like to go on and on about the steady growth of Chinese craft beer. However, beer isn’t the only non-traditional alcohol the Chinese are trying to make domestic versions of. A good example of this would be 芳歌青梅酒 aka Fang Ge Green Plum Liqueur.
Fang Ge is made in Danyang, Jiangsu province. Personally speaking, it’s a small county-level city to the west of Changzhou — where I live — that is part of the Zhenjiang. The Danyang Yihe Food Company makes this, and they also do Chinese domestic versions of sake. Roasted sesame seed salad dressings too! But, who really cares about the tasty gloop you put on lettuce and raw vegetables? What does this plum booze taste like?
Well, it’s extremely sweet to point you can feel it in the corners of your mouth. However, it never gets overbearing. Some highly sweet liqueurs have you not wanting more after a glass or two. So,at least, Fang Ge is not too rich. This is about 15%, and while you can’t taste the alcohol, you can feel it hitting your stomach. As drinks go, this is a sipper. Yihe’s website mentions that this can be diluted with warm water, or you can do a spritzer. Both cold, room temperature, and hotter servings are also okay. When you’re drinking it straight, though, it’s best to just be slow. There is another version available.
This looks very much like Japanese umeshu like Choya. Umeshu is a type of liqueur where unripened fruit is steeped into alcohol with some added sugar. The packaging confused me at first. The pull-tab top had me wondering if was supposed to sample it directly from the jar. I poured it into a glass anyway.
It’s lighter in flavor than its counterpart. You might be able to notice in the above photo — it’s lighter in color as well. It’s still sweet, but sipping this doesn’t have that corners of your mouth intensity. Also, this tends to have a raw, unfinished bite to it. I would assume that would be from the unripened plums the alcohol has been marinating. And oh, about that those …
You can eat them! As for which Fang Ge plum liqueur is better, I have to lean towards jar with actual plums. It doesn’t feel as thick in your mouth, and it feels less intense when it comes to its sugar levels.
On a closing note, fruity liqueurs are not my thing. I tend to be more of a beer, whiskey, or baijiu sort of guy. However, I enjoyed slowly drinking both of these enough to want to seek out the other products in Yihe Foods line of alcohol. They have something pomelo based that I am now actively curious about.