I love yogurt. Whenever I see a new form of this cultured treat, I have the urge to test it out and compare it to my list of all time favorites. Beijing Yogurt requires no spoon because it’s a drinkable yogurt, it’s sweet and tart at the same time – absolutely delicious! In China its often served in adorable little clay jars with paper tops that you insert straws into. Life moves pretty fast in modern China, and theres no time for sitting leisurely with a spoon—this is yogurt on the go! Actually in China, you have to drink it very quickly because you have to return the clay jars back to vendors!
I was perusing the aisles of my local Japanese Market and spotted these cute plastic cups with a vivid blue top in the refrigerated section. Turns out it was “Beijing Yogurt” or “suan nai” that was made in the U.S. Needless to say I was at the checkout stand within a few seconds! I used this Beijing Yogurt as my starter, but any plain yogurt with active cultures will work for this recipe. I found the adorable milk bottles on Amazon (link here).
The original version (nai lao) of this was first learned by the imperial chefs in the 1800s, the recipe transformed into a more mild and sweeter version that caught on in Beijing in 1950s when it became a hit among the health conscious and hip. In fact, its true debut was in the theater district where artists and actors gravitated towards this delicious drink. Each time I make this, I imagine sitting in a bustling corner of Beijing, watching all the people go by as I take comfort in this sweet & tart yogurt drink.
If you’re curious about the ingredients in the Beijing Yogurt that I used as my starter, here they are: Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Non Fat Milk, Sugar, Contains Live & Active Probiotic Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, L. Casei, L. Acidophilus, B. Bifidus, S. Thermophilus)