A Feast for the Mind: Chinese Food and Drink Vocabulary

When we talk about food and drinks, what comes to your mind first? Is it a hot bowl of rice or noodles? Or is it some delicious food in our daily life? 

Foods are universal because they can represent the local condition and the characteristics of a country or an area. We have a desire and appetite to have food and drinks every day. 

In this post, we will share about the food and drinks vocabularies in China. Let’s get started!

Food 食物(shí wù)

Food is vital in providing energy and promoting body health. Whenever we take any food or nutritious fluid, our bodies digest and absorb simple but essential nutrients. For instance, minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water. It will convert into the bloodstream and energy that help our body to stimulate growth and keep it healthy.

Here are some common foods that we consume every day:

1. 饭 (fàn) Rice

Rice is the main dish every day, especially for Asians. A bowl of rice is rich in carbohydrates, which provides energy to keep you energized and satisfied. Besides, there are a lot of vitamins and minerals that can help maintain body health. 

Rice is a necessary dish for Asians. If you watch Chinese dramas, you’ll realize that they take rice as their breakfast before going to work or school. 

Example use: 

  • 我想要一碗米饭。
    (wǒ xiǎng yào yī wǎn mǐfàn)
    I would like to have a bowl of rice.

2. 水果 (shuǐ guǒ) Fruits

One of the most popular fruits worldwide is apples. There is a famous phrase, “An apple a day, keep a doctor away.” It means that apples as fruit contain various vitamins and nutrition, which is vital to maintaining body health. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of diseases and cancer. 

Every place has its seasonal fruit based on its geographical location. For example, fruits representing tropical countries are mango, durian, mangosteen, and jackfruit. 

On the other hand, other fruits like oranges, grapes, and apples are mainly grown in some cold-weather countries. This is because the country with cold weather and their geographical location is suitable for this kind of fruit.

Example use:

  • 我喜欢吃水果。
    (wǒ xǐ huān chī shuǐ guǒ)
    I like to eat fruits.
  • 榴莲是水果之王。
    (liú lián shì shuǐ guǒ zhī wáng)
    Durian is the king of fruits.

3. 肉 (ròu)Meats

There are many kinds of meats such as chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and fish. Meat is one of the primary sources of vitamin B12 and protein in the diet. Food hygiene is crucial when storing, preparing, and cooking meat as its shelf life is low if we are not keeping it properly. 

Protein in meat is good, especially for children’s and teenagers’ health. It is because protein promotes growth and brain development. 

But, we should keep a healthy diet for consuming vegetables, fruits, and meat every day. Each of them cannot be ignored as different types of food will have different kinds of nutrition. These minerals and vitamins are essential to maintain body health.

In Chinese tradition, fish play a significant role in festive celebrations. The Chinese word for “fish” 鱼(yú)sounds like the words for both “wish” and “abundance.” 

As a result, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, it is customary to serve a fish at the end of the dinner, symbolizing a wish for abundance during the coming year. For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and end for the coming year.

For example:

  • 鱼很好吃。
    (yú hěn hào chī)
    The fish is delicious.
  • 大家一起来吃鱼吧。
    (Dàjiā yì qǐlái chī yú ba)
    Let’s eat the fish together.

Drinks 饮料( yǐn liào)

On the other hand, apart from food, getting enough water every day is vital for our health. 

1. 水 (shuǐ)Water

Drinking enough water is crucial to prevent dehydration and constipation. The body always needs lots of water to carry out many essential functions, such as balancing the internal body temperature. Water supports cell functions and helps excrete waste from our bodies. 


  • 记得要每天多喝水。
    (jì dé měi tiān yào duō hē shuǐ)
    Remember to drink plenty of water every day.

2. 茶 (chá)Tea

Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot boiling water over cured or fresh tea leaves. For example, black tea, oolong tea, and herbal tea. 

Everyone has their favorite tea, but not everyone likes to drink tea. Drinking a cup of tea every day can help you stay healthy and feel satisfied. It is a beverage with different flavors and varieties due to cultivation regions and production methods.

Example use: 

  • 每天早上我都爱喝一杯热茶。
    (měi tiān zǎo shang wǒ doū ài hè yī bēi rè chá)
    I like to drink a cup of hot tea every morning.

3. 咖啡 (kā fēi)Coffee

Coffee has been praised due to the caffeine inside that can help people focus on their whole daily activities. There are many benefits of coffee:

  • Boots your physical performance
  • Allows you to focus and stay alert
  • Lowers risk of death
  • Brighten your mood

But, it is recommended that you shouldn’t take more than 2 cups of coffee in a day which can cause insomnia and restlessness. Pregnant ladies should reduce their coffee intake to one cup a day. If caffeine uptake is excessive, it might harm the baby. 

Example use:

  • Q: 你喜欢喝咖啡吗?
    (nǐ xǐhuān hē kā fēi ma)
    Do you like to drink coffee?
  • A: 是的,我喜欢喝咖啡。
    (shì de, wǒ xǐ huān hē kā fēi )
    Yes, I like to drink coffee.

4. 酒精饮料(jiǔjīngyǐnliào) Alcoholic drinks  

An alcoholic drink is a drink that contains ethanol, produced by the fermentation of grains or fruits. There are many different alcoholic drinks with different alcohol percentages, such as beer, wine, whiskey, etc. 

Light to moderate alcohol consumption will help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. However, heavy alcohol users can increase serious health issues, including cancers, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart failure.


  • 喝太多酒对身体不好。
    (Hē tài duō jiǔ duì shēntǐ bù hǎo)
    Drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health.


Final Thoughts

I hope this article shares valuable and simple ways to enhance your Chinese language. If you want to learn more, subscribe to Maayot for more interesting bite-sized Chinese stories!

You can also visit the links below to learn more interesting Chinese languages: