Mmmmmmm. Korean drinks, what can I say? The sweet and sour taste of a mango soju is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Soju is the national drink of Korea and it’s not just for drinking! But don’t fret if you’re looking to try other types of alcohol- because there are plenty of those as well to choose from!
Korea is a country that has an abundance of delicious and unique drinks. Whether you like sweet or salty, hot or cold, there’s something out there for everyone. It’s no secret that Koreans love their alcohol. If you’re looking for some new drinks to try, or wondering what the most popular Korean beverages are, this post is for you!
From Soju to Makgeolli and everything in between, here are 15 popular Korean drinks.
Soju is the national drink of Korea and it’s not just for drinking! Soju is a distilled beverage which originated in the Goryeo Dynasty. It’s traditionally made from rice, but nowadays it can also be made of wheat, barley, potatoes and sweet potatoes. The taste of Soju is comparable to vodka or Japanese sake- in other words, it’s light and smooth. Traditional reports say that drinking a cup of Soju will make you feel warm all over your body- perfect for cold Korean winters!
Soju is usually served mixed with beer in what Koreans call “bomb drinks” (봄맞이), or “mixed drinks.” These are popular during holidays because they are reminiscent of traditional holiday beverages called seongjeongji-cha (성정차). However these days Soju is frequently enjoyed by itself, with the help of some tasty side dishes.
Makgeolli (or Makkoli) is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It has 6-7% alcohol content and tastes very sweet! Koreans usually serve it in traditional white porcelain bowls called gukhwadan (국환단). These days, you can find makgeolli served in pretty much any kind of container. However that doesn’t take away from its delicious flavor or traditional charm!
Koreans drink makgeolli at every occasion possible- even when they’re hanging out with friends! You can drink makgeolli in the morning, afternoon, or night. There are even special clubs (called norebangs) where you can go to drink makgeolli and sing karaoke late into the night- needless to say, they’re pretty popular.
Baekse-ju is another traditional Korean liquor. It tastes sweeter than soju, and it has 5-6% alcohol content. The taste is comparable to Japanese shochu or Chinese baijiu (which also happens to be the most well-known type of alcoholic beverage in China).
Baekse-ju was originally produced in the Goryeo Dynasty, but it’s been popular for centuries now! The name Baekse-ju means “white” or “light” because it’s clear when you look at it.
In Korea, this drink is traditionally consumed on holidays and other special occasions to celebrate good fortune and happiness. If you’re feeling thirsty after all that holiday shopping we’ve got plenty of Korean drinks to choose from! You can enjoy one today and be back for more tomorrow!
Wine has become very popular in Korea over the last decade or so, and there are many options available at restaurants and bars! Wine is usually served at upscale western style bars or restaurants, although you can definitely find it elsewhere if you look hard enough. Don’t be put off by its seemingly snobby reputation- Koreans LOVE their wine. And why shouldn’t they? It’s delicious!
In Korea, people typically drink white or red wines with their meals or on special occasions. Wine is commonly served chilled during the summer or warmed during the winter, but these are only general guidelines. Koreans are very particular about their wine preferences, so it’s best to ask your server for suggestions.
Milkis is one of Korea’s most popular soft drinks. It was first introduced in the 1970s as “a milk flavored soda.” It has since become quite popular, and these days you can find it bottled or canned at all convenience stores across the country.
The drink is inspired by American root beer- it’s made from carbonated water, sweeteners, and other flavorings like star anise and licorice root. The resulting beverage tastes exactly like ginger ale mixed with cola! If you’re not a fan of either drink individually, you should still give Milkis a try- it’s not exactly like either of them.
Sujeonggwa is an herbal tea made with dried persimmons, cinnamon, ginger and Korean dates (called hwangto). It can be served hot or cold, but it’s more common to find it served warm during the winter months.
Traditionally sujeonggwa was considered good for your health because the ingredients are known to help remedy various ailments like diarrhea or body aches. Nowadays it’s mainly enjoyed as a delicious and unique drink!
Maesil-cha is a type of tea made from green plums and rice. It’s very sweet, tangy, and refreshing! Koreans drink it cold during the summertime to stay cool and refreshed. You can add sugar or honey if you want to change things up a bit, but traditionally maesil-cha is meant to be enjoyed unsweetened.
In Korea, maesil-cha is sold bottled in most convenience stores next to other soft drinks. However this isn’t exactly the best place for it- you’ll find higher quality teas sold at specialty tea shops.
Mogwa-cha is another type of tea made from Korean pears. It’s usually served hot during the winter, although it can also be found bottled in convenience stores across the country just like maesil-cha.
The pear flavor is very distinct and strong, so if you’re not into that then this isn’t the drink for you! However, mogwa-cha is one of Korea’s most popular teas because many people are pear lovers. As long as you don’t mind having to chew your beverage, give it a try!
Boricha is made from barley, and it’s most popular during the winter months. It usually tastes slightly sweet and nutty, which makes it very pleasant to drink on chilly afternoons or evenings.
In Korea you can find boricha bottled in convenience stores everywhere next to other hot drinks like coffee or cocoa. You can also buy it at many restaurants or bars, but since it’s so common you should be able to find it almost anywhere!
Hwachae is Korea’s answer to punch or Kool-Aid. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess, making it an irresistible thirst quencher in the summertime.
Traditionally hwachae was made with fresh fruit like strawberries or red dates, but bottled versions are available at convenience stores across the country. They’re even sold brand new in boxes still wrapped up! If you can’t get your hands on any bottled hwachae, traditional recipes for making it exist online too so you could try that yourself.
Daechucha is made from dried persimmons, also known as hongsi in Korean. The fruit is harvested in the fall and then left out to dry for several weeks or even months.
The resulting daechucha tastes very sweet and tangy, almost like unsweetened cranberry juice! It’s often enjoyed hot during the wintertime with rock sugar added to taste, although it can be served cold (without the sugar) when you can’t take another bite of spicy kimchi or ramen. You may notice that many Korean restaurants sell daechucha drinks in their beverage section, but you can buy it in bottles at convenience stores too.
Sikhye is one of Korea’s most popular drinks. It’s made from rice and malt syrup, so it’s naturally very sweet. In fact, it can be so sweet that many people enjoy adding a bit of salt or fruit to cut the sweetness!
Traditionally sikhye was served as a dessert drink after finishing a meal with your family, but nowadays you can buy it bottled in convenience stores across the country year round. Don’t worry though- even though it’s bottled it contains no preservatives or colorants so they haven’t changed the recipe at all.
Oksusu-cha / Corn Tea
The name oksusu-cha may sound weird, but it’s simply made from dried sweet corn kernels. The kernels are roasted in a pot until they’re golden brown, then water is added and boiled for 30-40 minutes.
You can find oksusu-cha bottled at convenience stores everywhere during the wintertime because the drink helps keep you warm! It’s also served hot with toast or savory side dishes like kimchi to balance out its sweetness.
Yulmu-cha is a very traditional drink that’s been around for hundreds of years. After the yulmu, or Job’s tears, are boiled in water then sweetened with malt syrup you’ll end up with a golden yellow beverage that tastes slightly sweet and nutty.
Traditionally this was brewed for special occasions like weddings, birthday parties, and holidays because of its long brewing process which could be time-consuming. Today it can be found bottled at convenience stores next to other hot drinks like boricha and coffee! Anytime is a good time for a cup of yulmu-cha so give it a try!
Probably the last drink on our list is misugaru, made from 100% ground up sorghum.
Traditionally misugaru was brewed in large batches then used to slake wine or spirits that were being served at Korean royal events. Today it’s sold bottled, often with added barley malt powder for more sweetness and flavor. Sometimes you may even find it mixed with other drinks like oksusu-cha which is very common during fall! If you look hard enough you’ll find bottles of misugaru everywhere throughout the year, although it’s more common in winter since it keeps you warm.
That’s it! We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something about these popular Korean drinks that you didn’t know before. If you’re still thirsty for more knowledge there are plenty of websites out there written by Koreans who can tell us even more about these popular beverages! If you’re ever stumped on what to order at your favorite Korean restaurant, try looking for their menu online and checking out what drinks they offer! You’ll probably be surprised by how many unique beverages there are.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there, drink some sul-tea , and let us know which drinks were your favorite!
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to leave a comment!
Read more: 15 Popular Japanese Drinks