Suanmeitang, Cool and Refreshing, Like a Summer Breeze
2008/07/01 13:00:00 US/Central
text by Rocky Li
Pleasantly sweet and delightfully different from run-of-the-mill soft drinks suanmeitang (sweet-sour plum juice) is a treasured traditional beverage in
Suanmeitang is considered very good for the people’s health. It is rich in organic acids, such as malic and citric acids, the latter of which can efficiently inhibit the growth of lactic acid in the body which leads to human fatigue. Drinking suanmeitang is an effective counter to fatigue and is quite refreshing in a real way.
Suanmeitang is made mainly from smoked plums, hawthorn, sweet-scented osmanthus flowers, liquorice and brown sugar. Although suanmeitang is sour, it is alkaline drink. It can balance acidity that results from eating too much acidic food such as meat. While soothing the temper, suanmeitang can also aid digestion.
From that point on, suanmeitang’s fame was cemented, and it only grew after a man from
Early in 1910, the sweet-scented osmanthus flower suanmeitang and sweet-scented osmanthus flower suanmeijing (solid suanmeitang product) made by Xinyuanzhai won a silver medal in the South Asian Fair, and in 1919, the two products of Xinyuanzhai won gold medals in the Panama International Fair.
Over the centuries, Xinyuanzhai won solid fame within society. In 1986, the Beijing Xinyuanzhai Beverage Company Limited was established, becoming a Zhonghua Laozihao (China Time Honoured Brand). It opened a new age for the industrialized production of suanmeitang. Some modern equipment was introduced to the product line. Bacteria-free production and vacuum packaging added to the safety of the product.
But, despite the transformation from traditional manual production to industrialized production, Xinyuanzhai never lost or relaxed its standards for ingredients and products. According to the traditional recipe, smoked plums are the major ingredient of suanmeitang. Xinyuanzhai still closely follows this scheme.
Every year, suppliers ship smoked plums from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and
The requirements of Xinyuanzhai for collecting osmanthus flowers are special. The flowers should not come into contact with the air. While this may sound strange, and it is, it’s necessary because oxygen in the air results in oxidization of the flowers, ruining them. So when gathering their flowers workers keep a basin of water on hand to receive the fallen flowers. After their gathering, the flowers are placed in a mixture of sugar and acid to steep and dry. These procedures help retain the fresh and fragrant flavour of the flowers.
It is the same with other ingredients used to make suanmeitang: all are required to observe restrictions as to their origin and quality, such as with the hawthorn used. Only hawthorn grown in the northwestern mountains of
“Different materials will generate different tastes for our products, and the customers can tell the difference,” said Chang Jianqiu, president of the Beijing Xinyuanzhai Beverage Company Limited.
“We seldom change the origin of our materials. As our suppliers are also fixed, they know our requirements very clearly. We don’t even need to send our staff to participate in gathering these ingredients; the suppliers know what we need and what our standards are. This is very usual.”
Unusual? Yes, but it reflects the confidence of this Zhonghua Laozihao in its suppliers.
Chang, about 60, is said to be the only person who knows the prescriptions of Xinyuanzhai products, including the suanmeitang, suanmeijing and the company's antitussive pear cream. As for the skills for making other products of Xinyuanzhai, such as the preserved fruit, which are among other famous products of Xinyuanzhai, Chang said he is anxious, because demand is outstripping the company’s ability to meet it. It’s also becoming more difficult to find people who want to learn this business.
But at present, people should distinguish the trademark carefully when they buy the products of Xinyuanzhai in the market. The real products of Xinyuanzhai are not marked with the trademark of “Xinyuanzhai.” As this trademark was registered by another businessman, Xiao Hongxian, who asserts he is the real inheritor of the Xinyuanzhai brand. He doesn’t produce any beverage products, but he has the trademark. Beijing Xinyuanzhai Beverage Company Limited has the techniques and products, but they failed to register the Xinyuanzhai trademark. The parties are now working to resolve this problem.
However, if you find the producer name of Beijing Xinyuanzhai Beverage Company Limited, you can rest assured you have the right product.
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