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Chinese Woman with Heartbreak Passes Away after Drinking Bottle of Baijiu

Three friends are held partially responsible for not intervening when the woman consumed 500ml of baijiu.

Manya Koetse

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An incident that happened on the night of May 21, 2023, has become a trending topic on Chinese social media today after a local court examined the case.

A woman named ‘Xiao Qiu’ (alias), a resident of Jiangxi’s Nanchang, apparently attempted to drink her sorrows away after a heartbreaking breakup.

She spent the night at a friend’s house, where she drank about 50cl of baijiu (白酒), a popular Chinese spirit distilled from fermented sorghum that contains between 35% and 60% alcohol. One entire bottle of baijiu, such as Moutai, is usually 50cl.

She was together with three female friends. One of them also consumed baijiu, although not as much, and the two other friends did not drink at all.

As reported by Jiupai News, the intoxicated Xiao Qu ended up sleeping in her car, while one of her sober friends stayed with her. However, at about 5 AM, her friend discovered that Xiao Qiu was no longer breathing. Just about an hour later, she was declared dead at the local Emergency Center. The cause of death was ruled as cardiac and respiratory failure due to alcohol poisoning.

The court found that Xiao Qu’s friends were partly responsible for her death, citing their failure to prevent her excessive drinking and inadequate assistance following her baijiu binge drink session. Each friend was directed to contribute to the compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering incurred by Qiu’s family.

The friend who also consumed baijiu was assigned a 6% compensation responsibility, while the other two were assigned 3% each.

On Weibo, many commenters do not agree with the court’s decision, asserting that adult individuals should not be held accountable when a friend goes on a drinking spree. Some commenters wrote: “You can tell someone not to drink, but what if they don’t listen?” “Should we record ourselves telling friends not to drink too much from now on?”

This is not the first time for friends to be held liable for an alcohol-related death in China. In 2018, multiple stories went viral involving people who died after excessive drinking at social gatherings.

One case involved a 30-year-old Chinese man who was found dead in his hotel room bathtub in Yangzhou after a formal dinner with friends where he allegedly drank heavily. The man reportedly died of a heart attack. His friends reached a 1 million yuan (±US$157,000) settlement with his family, with the cost shared among the friends who were present during the night.

Surveillance cameras in Jinhua captured how the man was unable to stand or walk after drinking with his friends.

Another case involved a man who died when he was left by his friends at a hotel in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, after heavily drinking at a banquet. Surveillance cameras captured how the man was unable to stand or walk after drinking with his friends. Those friends also paid a compensation together of 610,000 yuan (US$96,000) to the man’s family.

Organisers of an alcohol drinking contest in Henan province were also ordered to pay a compensation of over US$70,000 after one participant died due to excessive alcohol intake in July of 2017.

These cases also triggered online discussions about how Chinese traditional drinking culture often encourages people at the table to drink as much as they can or to exceed their limits; the goal sometimes is to literally “take someone to the ground by drinking.” When someone proposes a toast, everyone at the table is required to finish their glasses, sometimes at a very high pace.

In light of the latest news, some commenters write on Weibo: “No matter what kind of drinking gathering it is, for someone who is already drunk, others should intervene to prevent them from continuing to drink. Even if they invite, provoke, or insist on drinking themselves, they should not be allowed to continue. Otherwise, it not only harms them, you might end up facing legal responsibility yourself.”

Others remind people that overindulging in alcohol when you’re in a state of distress is never a good idea, and that no heartbreak is worth getting drunk over: “There are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

By Manya Koetse

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Tsingtao Brewery ‘Pee-Gate’: Factory Worker Caught Urinating in Raw Material Warehouse

The pee incident, that occurred at a subsidiary Tsingtao Beer factory, has caused concerns among consumers.

Manya Koetse

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A video that has circulated on Chinese social media since October 19 shows how an alleged worker at a Tsingtao Beer factory climbs over a wall at the raw material production site and starts to urinate.

The incident reportedly occurred at the Tsingtao Beer Factory No. 3, a subsidiary of the Tsingtao Brewing Company, located in Qingdao, Shandong.

After the video went viral, the Tsingtao Brewery Company issued a statement that they took the incident very seriously and immediately report it to the authorities, who have started an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the specific batch in production has been halted and shut off.

The incident has caused concern among consumers, and some commenters on social media wonder if this was the first time something like this has happened. “How do we know this hasn’t happened many times before?”

Others speculate about what might have motivated the man to urinate at the production site. There are those who believe that the man is part of an undercover operation orchestrated by a rivaling company, aimed at discrediting Tsingtao. It’s even suggested that there were two ‘moles’ leaking in this incident: one doing the urinating, and the other doing the video ‘leak.’

Meanwhile, there are voices who are critical of Tsingtao, suggesting that the renowned beer brand has not effectively addressed the ‘pee gate’ scandal. It remains uncertain how this incident will impact the brand, but some netizens are already expressing reservations about ordering a Tsingtao beer as a result.

But there are also those who joke about the “pissing incident,” wondering if Tsingtao Beer might soon launch a special “urine flavored beer.”

By Manya Koetse

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Featured photo by Jay Ang (link).

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

From Baijiu Latte to DIY Liquor Coffee: China’s Coffee Culture Takes a Shot at Coffee + Alcohol Fusion

The recent buzz surrounding the Luckin x Maotai collaboration shows that blending coffee + alcohol might just become the next major trend in Chinese coffee culture.

Manya Koetse

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China’s coffee culture is brewing up something new as it embraces the fusion of coffee and alcohol. This blossoming trend, currently a hot topic online thanks to the Luckin x Maotai collaboration, is sparking curiosity and discussions about its lasting impact on coffee culture in China.

Would you like a shot with that? Recently, a trend involving the fusion of alcohol and coffee seems to be taking off in China, blending established liquor brands with popular domestic coffee labels.

The concept of mixing alcohol with coffee is relatively new in China, where classics like Irish Coffee never achieved the same recognition as they did in Western countries.

But also, the way in which ‘coffee + alcohol’ is introduced to consumers is different, with brands such as 7-Eleven and Luckin promoting their ‘coffee + liquor shot’ or ‘alcohol lattes.’

As a tea drinking nation, coffee culture is not part of Chinese traditional culture. However, over the past decade, China has witnessed the remarkable growth of a distinct and immensely popular Chinese coffee culture. In this evolving landscape, companies and consumers are continuously finding innovative ways to incorporate coffee into daily city life.

Coffee in China is typically an out-of-home purchase, particularly favored by the middle class (Ferreira & Ferreira 2018, 785). It has become intrinsically linked with modern urban life in China, taking on new cultural meanings related to status, lifestyle, aesthetics, urban communities, and the acquisition of new tastes. Millennials and Gen Z are at the forefront of shaping China’s coffee culture.

The pursuit of unique flavors is a defining aspect of China’s coffee culture, with a strong emphasis on specialty coffee. In fact, Shanghai alone boasts over 7,000 independent coffee houses, surpassing coffee hubs like London or New York (Xu & Ng 2022, 2349). Chinese coffee shops are known for introducing innovative concepts such as fruit-infused coffee, spicy chili coffee, garlic coffee, and liquor-flavored coffees.

Rather than introducing coffee into China’s drinking culture, alcohol is now being integrated into China’s coffee culture, providing consumers with yet another way to enjoy their coffee and explore new flavor experiences.

 
7-Eleven Blending Coffee with Alcohol
 

At various 7-Eleven convenience stores in China, you can now purchase a shot of alcohol to go with your coffee. For just 5 yuan ($0.70), customers can add a shot of their preferred liquor, such as Havana or Malibu, to their take-away coffee. It’s also possible to add it to your soda.

7-Eleven DIY counter: adding a shot of Malibu to takeaway coffee. (Image via Xiaohongshu user 今天怎么还没睡).

While we first noticed this option at a Beijing 7-eleven somewhere during the summer of 2023, Radii and Phoenix News reported that the first DYI counter was piloted at a Beijing store in October of 2022.

The counter, that specifically promotes the coffee + alcohol combo, is meant to serve customers who would previously purchase their coffee and then separately buy a full-priced mini bottle of liquor for anywhere in between 20-40 yuan ($2.75-$5.50) for 50ml.

DIY liquor counter at 7-Eleven in Beijing, promoting its “coffee + shot of alcohol” option (Photo by What’s on Weibo).

In late 2022, 7-Eleven in Taiwan also promoted the liquor + coffee combo as it exclusively offered the Hennessy cognac x City Prima coffee “Liquor Latte Set.”

City Prima x Hennessy at 7-Eleven Taiwan (Image via tw.com).

 
Luckin x Maotai Collab: Introducing Baijiu Latte
 

While the trend of adding alcohol to coffee seems to be taking off in China, Luckin coffee became all the talk on Chinese social media this week for its collaboration with Maotai (茅台), also known as Moutai, a renowned Chinese brand of baijiu – a type of strong distilled liquor.

Luckin launched the drink on Monday for 38 yuan ($5.20) under the name “酱香拿铁” (jiàng xiāng ná tiě) or “Sauce-Flavored Latte,” soon selling out at various stores and becoming a trending topic online. The ‘sauce’ reference is because of the distinct flavor profile associated with Maotai, often described as having a soy sauce-like aroma (“酱香型”).

The collaboration has become super popular for various reasons, one major one being the unexpected yet exciting combination of two such well-known Chinese brands coming together.

Promotion of the Maotai coffee on Luckin’s Weibo page.

Luckin Coffee (瑞幸咖啡) was founded in Beijing in 2017, opened its first shops in early 2018, and it has seen incredible growth over the past five years. The brand’s primary emphasis lies in providing top-notch coffee at accessible prices in convenient locations. Due to its ubiquity and dominant position in the market, it’s sometimes also referred to as “China’s Starbucks” (“中国星巴克”).

Maotai, made in Maotai in Guizhou Province, prides itself for its 2000-year history and it became the first Chinese liquor to be produced in large-scale production. The strong luxury spirit (53%), known as China’s national liquor, is especially popular among middle-aged and elderly men.

With Luckin being particular popular among China’s younger generations, while Maotai is especially loved among the elder generations, one popular Weibo post about the recent collaboration said: “For young people, it’s their first cup of Maotai, for the elderly, it’s their first cup of Luckin.”

It is also one of the reasons why the trend has become so big this week: many consumers are just curious to try this novel combination, although not everyone likes its special taste.

Trying out the new Luckin x Maotai combo (photos via @互联网欢乐指南).

The blend of coffee with alcohol is really more about the flavor than the buzz; the baijiu-flavored Luckin coffee only has an alcohol content of about 0.5%. One Weibo hashtag related to the question of whether or not people should drive after consuming the drink amassed an astonishing 640 million views (#瑞幸回应喝茅台联名咖啡能否开车#). Despite the very low alcohol content, Luckin still advises that minors, pregnant women, and drivers should avoid consuming the beverage.

The “Chinese version of Irish Coffee,” image on Xiaohongshu via @謝琦鈦.

Some social media users add some extra Maotai to their coffee themselves, calling it the “Chinese version of Irish coffe” (“中国版的爱尔兰咖啡”).

 
“Milk Tea for Grown-Ups”
 

Luckin is not the only Chinese coffee house offering a Maotai-flavored latte. Other Chinese coffee shops have independently introduced their own versions of Maotai coffee, without official partnerships.

In addition to company-driven innovations, consumers are also experimenting with their own coffee + liquor blends. On the social media platform Xiaohongshu, numerous users are enthusiastically sharing their personalized methods infusing coffee with Maotai and various other types of alcohol, including adding miniature bottles of Baileys to Starbucks takeaway coffee.

Image via Xiaohongshu user @潮流情报官.

Others are going beyond the coffee trend, and mix their milk tea or fruit tea with Jameson, Kahlua, or other liquors, turning them into “grown-up milk tea” beverages (成年人的奶茶).

While such practices might receive disapproval in many countries, where daytime drinking and adding spirits to coffee could be seen as indicative of alcoholism and irresponsible behavior, in China, these actions generally lack these negative connotations. Many young people just view it as an innovative way to enjoy new tastes, describing it as “a new trendy way to drink coffee” (or tea).

Is the coffee + alcohol mix a temporary trend, or will it become a permanent part of China’s out-of-home coffee culture? On social media, most people are curious to try it out but they are also not convinced the combination is one to stay.

“I don’t really know the flavor of coffee + alcohol, but judging from their effects – alcohol makes me sleepy and coffee wakes me up – I’m afraid it would mix up my nerves, so I don’t dare to try” one commenter (@无边桃炎) wrote.

“It’s just the taste [of mixing coffee with alcohol] that’s really good – apart from the Maotai Luckin one,” one person responded.

They are not alone; numerous young Chinese internet users are speculating that the recent Luckin collaboration is Maotai’s strategy to appeal to China’s younger generations, who do not necessarily appreciate its distinct flavor. These younger demographics have moved away from the traditional drinking culture in which baijiu plays a significant role.

“It’s just so unpleasant to drink,” others write. “Is it alcohol or is it coffee?” another person wonders: “In the end, it’s actually neither.”

While Luckin’s “Sauce-Flavored Latte” might not secure a permanent place on its menu, it’s clear that the trend of adding alcohol to coffee has gained popularity among China’s younger consumers. With 7-Eleven’s DIY counter offering a variety of sweeter liquors for customers to blend with their coffee, it appears they’ve found the perfect “shot” in this coffee and liquor trend.

By Manya Koetse

with contributions by Miranda Barnes

References

Ferreira, Jennifer, and Carlos Ferreira. 2018. “Challenges and Opportunities of New Retail Horizons in Emerging Markets: The Case of a Rising Coffee Culture in China.” Business Horizons 61, no. 5: 783-796.

Xu, Xinyue, and Aaron Yikai Ng. 2023. “Cultivation of New Taste: Taste Makers and New Forms of Distinction in China’s Coffee Culture.” Information, Communication & Society 26, no. 11: 2345-2362.

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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