This Chinese Plum Juice will transport you to a Chinese hot pot restaurant! It's cool, refreshing, and has the signature hint of smokiness.
Can't get enough Chinese drinks? Try my Hong Kong Lemon Iced Tea next!
🥡 About This Recipe
Known as Chinese Sour Plum Drink (or Suanmeitang), this traditional Chinese drink is made from smoked plums, rock sugar, and sometimes sweet osmanthus.
I first learned how to make it by reading a recipe from Woks Of Life. The main ingredients are dried plums and hawthorn, but you can add other herbal ingredients like dried orange peel or licorice root.
Their recipe has a range of measurements, so it takes some trial and error to get the right taste. I'll show you how I prefer to make it.
I like adding a bit of salt to bring out the flavors and letting the plums soak indefinitely in the juice to make it smokier.
- Dried Smoked Plums: You can find these in the dried/herbal section of Chinese grocery stores. Sometimes, they're labeled simply as dried plums or prunes.
- Dried Hawthorn: This fruit is extremely sour, similar to cranberries. This is what gives the drink its refreshing and bright flavor.
- White sugar: Traditionally, the drink is prepared with rock sugar, but I prefer using white sugar because it's easier to measure.
- Salt: Just a little bit enhances the flavor of the plums.
STEP 1: In a medium pot, soak the dried plums and hawthorn in cold water for one hour.
STEP 2: After soaking, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and let it simmer for one hour.
STEP 3: Once simmered, dissolve the sugar and salt into the mixture.
STEP 4: Strain the juice through a fine-meshed strainer, separating the liquid from the solids.
STEP 5: Using a pair of tongs, pick out the plums from the hawthorns and return them to the juice. Refrigerate until cold, then serve with ice. Transfer them to glass jars, if desired.
💭 Recipe Notes + Tips
- You can add optional ingredients like dried orange peel, licorice root, and dried osmanthus flowers. There's no need to measure; simply dropping a few pieces of each will add some depth.
- This drink tastes the best after the plums soak overnight. It gives the drink a smokier and more pronounced plum flavor.
- While the amount of sugar may seem excessive, it's necessary to balance the hawthorn's tartness. If sugar is a concern, you can dilute the drink when serving. For example, my wife likes to fill her cup about one-fourth of the way with juice and then top it off with water. Surprisingly, it's still very strong.
🥡 Storage & Leftovers
Storing: Store leftover Chinese plum juice in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
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Chinese Plum Juice
- 100 g dried smoked plums (about 1 cup)
- 50 g dried hawthorns (about ½ a heaping cup)
- 10 cups water
- ½ cup sugar (add up to a ¼ cup more if you like it sweet)
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- In a medium pot, soak the dried plums and hawthorn in cold water for one hour.
- After soaking, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and let it simmer for one hour.
- Once simmered, dissolve the sugar and salt into the juice.
- Strain the juice through a fine-meshed strainer, separating the liquid from the solids.
- Using a pair of tongs, pick out the plums from the hawthorns and return them to the juice. Refrigerate until cold, then serve with ice.