K-Pop fans may be familiar with some of South Korea’s famous drinks. Soju, for example, is quite popular in the world.
But do you also know other typical South Korean drinks?
Come, and see it the reviews!
Soju is the most famous distilled drink from Korea, it is clear and colorless in appearance.
The alcohol content in Soju varies from around 16.8% to 53%. Soju is traditionally made from rice, wheat, or barley, or modernly from potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Soju originated in the 13th century Goryeo, when the Levantine refining technique was introduced to the Korean Peninsula during the Mongol invasion, by the Mongol Yuan. They got this technique during their invasion of the Levant, Anatolian, and Persian regions.
Early Soju distilleries were established around the city of Gaegyeong, which is now called Kaesong. Meanwhile, the home-made liquor which became the forerunner of modern soju was first made in the city of Andong, which was named Andong soju.
Soju in Korean means burnt liquor. Its name probably originates from similar drinks, such as Baijiu in China and Shochu in Japan. Some of the famous Soju brands in South Korea are like Jinro, Good Day, and so on.
Soju is usually enjoyed in a small glass and not straight from the bottle. The soju is quite harsh and tends to be rough and slightly thick. But usually well-known brand soju has a soft and not harsh taste, different from cheap soju which tastes hard.
Omija-cha or magnolia berry tea is a traditional Korean infused tea made from dried magnolia fruit or Omija in Korean.
Literally, Omija means five tastes, namely sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and spicy. Omija-cha is usually served hot or cold.
To make Omija-cha, dry magnolias simmer over low heat. After that, honey or sugar is added to it. Alternatively, you can add ground magnolia berry seeds to cold water to make Omija-cha.
Omija or also known as Schisandra which is a medicinal berry found in Korean forests. Omija grows wild in August – September. Omija fruit is red in color and is so distinctive because it has five flavors with a sharp aroma.
There are various benefits resulting from Omija fruit, such as maintaining stamina, relaxation, natural antioxidants, detoxification, and containing various other important minerals. Therefore, in Korea, Omija has long been used for natural healing purposes.
Apart from brewing dried or fresh omija fruit, Omija-cha is also sold in thick or powdered form at grocery stores, supermarkets, and traditional South Korean markets. Omija-cha can also be found in traditional tea shops or restaurants in Korea.
Maesil-cha is a popular tea drink in South Korea that is made from the maesil fruit or commonly known as Asian Plum.
Apart from being used to make tea, maesil is also often used as jam, juice, soy sauce, and made into vinegar.
Maesil-cha is perfect to enjoy during the summer as a thirst quencher. In addition, Maesil-cha is also believed to be able to reduce fatigue as relaxation and increase appetite. Another benefit is as detoxification and antioxidant.
Basically, Maesil-cha is a Korean drink that is quite easy to make. First, the maesil fruit is washed clean and then dried. Then put it in the pan, sprinkle with sugar until the plums are completely covered, then cover tightly and chill it.
Usually, the material is left to stand for about three months so that the fermentation process occurs. However, the length of fermentation time can also be adjusted according to the taste of the maker. The most important thing during this process is to prevent air from entering the pan.
After the fermentation process is complete, Maesil-cha can then be made by mixing the fermented plums in hot water and stirring well. But now maesil fruit extract can also be easily found in Korean supermarkets and shops.
Sungnyung is a traditional South Korean infused drink made from boiled charred rice.
Usually, Sungnyung is made from Nurungji or rice crusts that are roasted but not until the scorch forms or is in the bottom of the pan when cooking the rice.
To make Sungnyung, water is poured over the brown rice crust and simmer until the water gets a sufficient burnt taste of rice. Sungnyung is usually made in Dolsot-bap or stone bowls, then covered during the boiling process.
Sungnyung was discovered in the late Joseon period and also in the 12th century Song Dynasty in China. This also supports the theory that Sungnyung has been enjoyed during the Goryeo period. The making of Sungnyung is also useful for cleaning the remaining rice in the pan.
The traditional making of Sungnyung is relatively reduced because the pot is rarely used and replaced with an electric rice cooker. But at the end of the 20th century, Sungnyung became famous again, because now Sungnyung can be made from an electric rice cooker.
Besides that, now Nurungji or rice crust is also commercially available so that making Sungnyung can be done practically. Sungnyung is usually served after eating because it is made after the rice is served, it tastes unique like charred rice.
Yujacha or Yuja tea is also a traditional Korean tea drink made from a mixture of hot water and Yuja-Cheong.
Yujacha is famous almost all over South Korea, especially in winter. Yujacha is made by preserving Yuja into syrup.
Yuja fruit is often known as citron or yuzu in Japanese. The fruit actually doesn’t contain much juice and has a strong aroma like oranges. So Yujacha or Yuja tea itself has a bitter and sweet taste and has a strong aroma.
Although it has become a well-known drink in Korea, initially Yuja tea originated from mainland China, known as Youzi tea. It is said that there was a man who was carrying a shipment of Yuja trees from China to Korea by boat.
However, in the middle of the journey, the ship he was riding was hit by a storm and destroyed the Yuja tree shipment. Long story short, some of the seeds got into the man’s coat and upon landing in Korea, the yuja seeds fell to the ground and grew into a yuja tree.
Yujacha was originally known as homemade, the ingredients needed are Yuja fruit, honey, and sugar. Yujacha is known to have various health benefits because it is rich in minerals and vitamins. As it is useful for the immune system and infectious diseases.
Milkis is a soft drink produced by Lotte Chilsung, a beverage company from South Korea.
Milkis combines the common ingredients of traditional carbonated drinks, such as sugar and carbonated water, and creamy milk.
Milkis is available in packs with orange, strawberry, mango, melon, banana, peach, apple flavors, and original or classic flavors. Miliki is one of the popular drinks in South Korea and is available worldwide which was introduced in 1989.
Milkis’ first appearance was done through massive promotion, especially with the appearance of Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat in his television commercial. The slogan carried is “Saranghaeyo, Milkis!” with the Chow Yun-fat accent that became famous.
Milkis is part of Chilsung Cider, a carbonated drink product division of Lotte Chilsung. Since its launch in 1950, the Chilsung Cider has become the representative of Korean drinks and has sold more than one million bottles of the product.
Milkis is mildly sweet with a hint of bubbles, unlike Coke or Pepsi. One of the interesting things about Milkis is the milk content in it. That’s why the drink is called Milkis, making it different from other carbonated drinks.
Sujeonggwa is a traditional Korean punch drink made of cinnamon. The color is dark reddish-brown with other ingredients used are gotgam or dried persimmon, ginger, honey, or brown sugar and usually decorated with pine nuts.
To make Sujeonggwa, first, boil cinnamon and ginger and then discard the pulp. After that, it is boiled again with honey or brown sugar. Dried persimmons are then added to soak and soften after the drink has cooled.
Sujeonggwa was originally mentioned in 1849 in the book Dongguk Sesigi, a book about seasonal customs written by scholar Hong Seok Mo. The Sujeonggwa recipe in his writing is made from dried persimmon with added ginger and pine.
Meanwhile, in the Haedong Jukji book written in 1921, it is known that Sujeonggwa has existed since the Goryeo era, under the name Baekjeho. Sujeonggwa recipes also change over time with a variety of ingredients, such as pears, licorice root, and others.
Therefore, there are various variants of Sujeonggwa such as Geonsisujeonggwa made of cinnamon and dried persimmon, Galyeonsujeonggwa from lotus, and Jabgwasujeonggwa from various fruits. The taste is sweet and usually becomes a dessert menu.
8. Cheongju rice wine
Cheongju or literally meaning as a clear wine is pure rice wine native to South Korea.
Another name for Cheongju is Yakju which means medicinal wine, sometimes the name is also pronounced as Chungju. Cheongju is usually made in winter.
To make Cheongju, steamed rice is mixed with Nuruk as a starter for fermentation and water. Then it is left for 16-25 days so that the fermentation process occurs at a temperature of not more than 14-16 degrees Celsius. After that, the wine is filtered with Yongsu.
According to a book written by the Chinese scholar Song Sung Mu in the 12th century, the Goryeo people used non-sticky rice to make rice wine. In addition, books written in Chinese say that Cheongju has high alcohol content.
From this Chinese book, it was also discovered that clear and smooth rice wine was usually made in the palace. Meanwhile, thick, unrefined rice wine is more popular among people. Cheongju has also been widely used in various traditional rituals.
There are various variants of Cheongju, cities like Masan, Gunsan, and Nonsan are known to be the best producers. There are also varieties of Cheongju that are made with glutinous or black rice, chrysanthemums, pine sprouts, lotus leaf, ginseng, and other ingredients.
Makgeolli is a raw rice wine drink that is milky white in color and slightly shiny and slightly thick. It tastes a little sweet, sharp, bitter, and also spicy. Makgeolli contains relatively low alcohol, which is about 6 – 9% by volume.
The name Makgeolli comes from a Korean compound word, which is composed of the word Mak, meaning coarse, and Georeu which means to filter. In addition, Makgeolli is also often referred to as Takju because it looks cloudy or Nongju means agricultural grapes.
Makgeolli is the oldest alcoholic drink in Korea. Rice wine is thought to have been brewed since the Three Kingdoms era from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD Makgeolli or rice wine is mentioned in the story of the founding of the Goguryeo kingdom around the 13th century AD.
Makgeolli was made for centuries in family households and was popular with farmers or rural workers. Therefore, Makgeolli is known as the farmer’s wine. Makgeolli was replaced by imported alcohol in the 1970s.
But in the 21st century, Makgeolli is starting to revive in urban areas and among young Koreans. Makgeolli is usually served cold, in a bottle, or in a pottery bowl. Makgeolli can also be mixed with fruit like a fruit cocktail.
Sikhye, also often referred to as Dansul or Gamju, is a traditional Korean sweet rice drink.
Sikhye contains rice grains and sometimes pine nuts. Sikhye at a glance is similar to Jiuniang in China and Amazake in Japan.
To make Sikhye, malt water is poured over the rice, usually at 65 degrees Celsius, until it is completely absorbed and rice grains appear on the surface. The liquid is then poured slowly until leaving a rough part, then boiled until sweet.
Sikhye in South Korea and abroad is available in cans or plastic bottles. Most canned Sikhye will usually have leftover rice at the bottom of the package. The largest Sikhye producers in South Korea are the Vilac and Busan companies.
There are several regional variations of Sikhye drinks, such as Andong Sikhye and Yeon Yeop Sikhye or Yeonyeopju, as well as various Sikhye made in Gangwon province. Sikhye Andong is a soft textured fermentation of radish, carrots, and red chili powder.
Sikhye products on the market are usually flavored with sugar, unlike the real Sikhye. The unique taste of Sikhye actually comes from the use of sesame oil in its manufacture. Sikhye is generally served as a cold dessert.
Hwachae is the general term for a traditional Korean punch drink, made from various fruits or edible flower petals.
To make Hwachae, fruits or flower petals soak in honey or magnolia berry juice.
It is said that there are about thirty types of traditional Hwachae in Korea. Among them are Subak-Hwachae made from watermelon, Yuja-Hwachae from Yuja fruit, Jangmi-Hwachae made from rose petals, Omija-Hwachae made from Omija fruit, and others.
One of the most popular Hwachae and considered the original punch is Subak-Hwachae. The ingredients are very common, to make the first watermelon made like a bowl. Then pour seltzer water or soda and sugar or honey.
Apart from Subak-Hwachae, Omija-Hwachae and Yuja-Hwachae are also famous in South Korea for using Korean fruit. Omija is known for its five distinctive flavors. Meanwhile, Yuja-Hwachae used to be enjoyed in Korean royal palaces.
Hwachae can be traced back to ancient Korean times and were popular with the public during the summer. Now in the modern era, Hwachae can also be given a unique touch, such as by mixing carbonated drinks or in the form of fruit juices.
Munbaeju is a traditional South Korean distilled liquor that is considered to be one of the best liqueurs and has a wild pear aroma. Its name consists of two words in Korean, namely munbae which means “wild pear” and ju which means alcohol.
In fact, the drink doesn’t actually contain wild pears in the ingredients. The name was given because the grapes used in its production have the aroma of wild pears. Other ingredients include wheat, millet, as well as a fermentation starter, or nuruk.
Although Munbaeju is famous and widely produced in South Korea, but originally from Pyongyang, North Korea. This can be traced back to the history of the Goryeo Dynasty, namely King Taejo. In addition, the water used in its production comes from the Taedong River.
Munbaeju was first created by Wang Geon and his family for generations. Even Wang Geon really liked the taste of Munbaeju and made it a special drink in the government. Since then, Munbaeju used to be served to royal officials.
The main characteristic of Munbaeju is its fresh and clean taste and strong aroma. When drunk, the soft texture is also quite felt in the mouth and tongue. No wonder Munbaeju is called the best alcoholic drink in Korea and is designated as a cultural heritage.
Mogwa-cha or quince tea is a traditional Korean tea drink made from the fruit of Chinese quince. To make Mogwa-cha, it is usually quince fruit preserved with honey or sugar or what is commonly called mogwa-cheong, mixed with hot water.
Apart from this method, Mogwa-cha can also be made by boiling dry quince fruit in water or by mixing quince powder together with hot water. Mogwa-cha is included in the herbal tea category so it is believed to have many benefits for the body.
The quince fruit is a yellow fruit that resembles a pear. Quince fruit does contain lots of minerals and vitamins, such as Vitamins A, C, B3, B6, or minerals such as iron, calcium, and others.
The quince fruit used in Mogwa-cha comes from the Chinese quince plant (Pseudo Cydonia Sinensis) and not from the popular quince fruit in Turkey or Persia, Cydonia oblonga. The Chinese quince is the only plant of the genus Pseudo Cydonia.
The Chinese quince fruits have few thorns, the leaves are serrated, and the flowers do not grow in groups. This plant in Korea is known as mogwa-namu and the fruit is called mogwa. The Chinese quince fruit is sweet and has a strong aroma when ripe.
Daechu-cha is a traditional Korean tea drink made from the Jujube plant. The tea has a brown to dark maroon color.
In addition, Daechu-cha is also full of minerals and vitamins. Usually served with pine nut garnish.
Daechu is Korean which means Jujube fruit, which is commonly known as Korean dates, Chinese dates, or Indian dates. The fruit is oval in shape when unripe is a smooth green and tastes like an apple with lower acidity.
There are two ways to make Daechu-cha, namely by boiling dried Jujube fruit or by diluting the preserved Jujube fruit in boiling water. The preserved jujube to make Daechu-cha is best left out in the sun.
To add flavor to Daechu-cha, especially to make it sweet, usually, honey or sugar is added. There are also those who usually make Daechu-cha with the addition of sliced ginger. In addition to adding to the aroma of tea, ginger is also useful and can add to body warmth.
Daechu-cha is believed to have many benefits for the body, especially in increasing appetite. Many tea houses in Korea sell Daechu-cha in various corners of the city. Like other types of Korean tea, Daechu-cha is also inseparable from the sprinkling of pine cones.
Boricha or barley tea is a traditional tea drink that is popular in East Asia, including Korea.
Boricha is made from barley or barley like wheat by the infusion method. Boricha is generally savory and slightly bitter in taste and served hot or cold.
Just like the name, Boricha in Korean means barley tea or barley tea. Boricha can be made by boiling roasted unshelled barley seeds in hot water or by steeping roasted barley and ground barley in hot water.
Boricha or Korean barley tea is often combined with roasted corn because the sweetness of the corn can compensate for the bitter taste of barley. A tea mixture made from roasted corn and roasted barley, in South Korea it is commonly called oxusu-bori-cha.
In addition, South Korea also has several similar drinks made from roasted grains. Examples include hyeonmi-cha or brown rice tea, gyeolmyeongja-cha which is a sickle seed tea, and also memil-cha or soba tea.
Boricha is usually sold as an herbal drink instead of coffee. Boricha in South Korea is mostly sold in PET bottles at vending machines, such as those in Japan. Heat resistant PET bottles are also commonly used as Boricha packaging in Korea.
Yulmu-cha is a traditional South Korean tea made from the yulmu or adlay, in English also called Job’s tears. Yulmu is a plant of the grass family native to Southeast Asia which has a scientific name, namely Coix Lacryma-Jobi.
Initially adlay was planted in high-altitude areas and cold temperatures where rice and maize did not grow optimally. Adlay is then cultivated as an annual plant in various parts of the world, including East Asia, such as China and also the Korean peninsula.
Adlay in east Asia has existed since 3000 BC in China. Currently, it is usually widely available in dry form. Generally, the seeds of jali-jali or adlay are round in shape with an indentation at one end and are usually mashed until they are white.
Adlay seeds are known to be healthy and contain more protein and fat than rice. Yulmucha is made by brewing roasted or powdered yulmu in hot water. Sometimes it is also mixed with nuts such as walnuts and other types.
Yulmu-cha has a distinctively spicy taste, the color is a bit opaque and thick, and the texture tends to be thick. Yulmucha is usually served hot and is available in packs, or sometimes sold automatically as packages on vending machines.
Oksusu-cha or corn tea is a typical South Korean tea made from corn. There is also another name for corn silk tea, namely oxusu-suyeom-cha which means corn silk tea and in Gangwon province it is commonly called gangnaengi-cha in the Gangwon dialect.
Corn tea is a popular hot drink in winter and is known to be caffeine free. The basic ingredients are corn, corn silk, or a combination of the two. Oksusu-cha and Boricha are commonly served free in many South Korean restaurants as a substitute for water.
To make traditional Oksusu-cha, first, the corn kernels are dried and roasted first. After that, the corn kernels are then boiled in water until the tea turns yellow. The tea is then filtered and the boiled corn is filtered and then discarded.
Roasted seeds or corn tea bags for making Oksusu-cha are widely available in grocery stores, traditional markets, supermarkets in Korea. Oksusu-cha has a naturally sweet taste but sometimes added sugar if you want a sweeter taste.
Oksusu-cha is often combined with Boricha, mainly because the natural sweetness of Oksusu-cha is able to offset the bitter taste of barley. Oksusu-cha is one of the favorite drinks during the late fall and winter.
Misugaru or Misu is a drink made from traditional Korean grain powder. Literally, Misugaru which means Misu powder in Korean is made from a combination of 7 to 10 different grains. Misu is usually served in the summer.
In ancient Korean cookbooks during the Joseon Dynasty, Misu was referred to as fried barley or gu. At that time Gu was delicious food that was easy to serve when people were traveling. Misugaru is then usually added to water or milk which is stirred into a drink.
Broadly speaking, Misu is made from glutinous rice and various other ingredients, such as barley, yulmu or adlay, brown rice, black rice, black soybeans, corn, white beans, millet, and sesame. All of these ingredients are ground, roasted, or steamed, then stirred together.
As a sweetener, Misugaru is usually added with sweetened condensed milk or sugar. Misu is believed to be beneficial for health because it is rich in vitamins and minerals such as protein, calcium, magnesium, and others. No wonder Misu is used as a diet drink.
Misugaru is generally served cold and becomes a thirst quencher. However, it can also be served hot if desired. As a drink that is rich in nutrients and nutrients, Misugaru can be an instant drink for breakfast or it can be a healthy snack.
Baekse-Ju or sold under the brand Bek Se Ju is a fermented alcoholic drink made from Korean glutinous rice and flavored with herbs, such as ginseng. There is a legend that Baekese-ju is able to make a person live up to 100 years.
This drink has a lot of herbal content. Apart from ginseng there are eleven other herbs, including licorice, omija (Schisandra Chinensis), gugija or Chinese wolfberry, Astragalus propinquus root, ginger, cinnamon, and other ingredients.
Baekse-Ju has a delicate taste with a predominance of ginseng flavor and aroma. It is often consumed together with gui or roasts and other Korean spicy dishes. Baekse-Ju is considered to be an older type of alcoholic drink than soju and beer.
As the name implies, Baekse-Ju itself means ‘100 years old wine’ in Korean. The first reference to Bekse-Ju is in a 17th-century book called Jibong’yuseol, a type of encyclopedia written by a scholar named Yi Sun-Gwang.
Baekse-Ju is made by a company called Kooksoondang Brewery Co., which is a company that focuses on making traditional wines. Baekse-Ju is made with materials that are adapted to sell well in the market since its first launch in 1992.
Bacchus is a modern, non-carbonated South Korean energy drink manufactured by Dong-A Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the Dong-A Socio Group.
Bacchus was first launched in 1963 which was originally made into a tablet.
The history of Bacchus is closely related to Kang Shinho, a medical student in Germany. He invented an energy drink product and named it Bacchus. Its name is inspired by the statue of the Roman god, Bacchus, inside the city hall of Hamburg.
Bacchus has been popular in South Korea for many years. Initially, Bacchus was sold in pharmacies as herbal medicine to prevent colds and cure hangovers. The types of Bacchus products that are well known today are Bacchus-D and Bacchus-F.
Both types of Bacchus products contain Taurine as the main ingredient. It’s just that Bacchus-F has more Taurine content than Bacchus-D. Other ingredients contained in it such as sugar, royal jelly, ethanol, inositol, and other ingredients.
Recently Bacchus became famous in the United States and drank with alcohol. Common bacon is made into a “Bacchus Bomb” which is made by pouring a 3.3 oz Bacchus into a cup and then mixing it together with a glass of vodka.
21. Banana flavored milk
The famous modern drink from South Korea besides Bacchus is Banana Flavored Milk or Banana Mat Milk. The drink was introduced in 1974 and produced by the Binggrae company, with a special characteristic in the form of a light yellow packaging.
Since its introduction in 1974, Banana Mat Milk has sold more than 6 billion bottles in South Korea. When first introduced, bananas were considered expensive and a luxury item. Apart from that, the bottles are also unique, inspired by traditional Korean jars.
The lips of the bottle are also protruded to prevent the milk from spilling or dripping onto the face. According to the manufacturer, the packaging bottles used for the first time use polystyrene to differentiate their products from glass and plastic bottles.
Banana Mat Milk is made from 80 percent natural milk which makes it soft and savory. The banana taste is only used to enrich the taste. Moreover, the South Korean government also recommended that its citizens drink lots of milk.
The banana-flavored milk drink has been exported to various countries such as the United States, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, and so on. Even in Thailand Banana Mat Milk is very popular, especially during the Bangkok Food Fair.
Wow, it turns out that there are many traditional drinks from the Land of Morning Calm, South Korea.
Besides being refreshing, it turns out that there are also many drinks that have certain health properties. So besides trying soju, it’s good if you try other drinks.