This week's What's That? Wednesday inspiration came to me at breakfast that morning (believe it or not I don't have these things planned out weeks in advance...flying by the seat of my pants here). Some of our beverage options, and customs, are a bit different here.
National food quality standards are still developing and there is a bit of skepticism about the safety of some foods produced here. Milk is one of those products. You will find a range of opinions on this and some expats choose to drink the fresh milk and others don't. When we got here we were introduced to the concept of boxed milk, and since we've been pleased with it, we haven't switched. We buy German produced irradiated boxed milk, which means that the milk can remain at room temperature on a shelf. After the milk is opened, it has to be refrigerated and consumed in the same amount of time as regular milk before it will go bad. I don't think that irradiated food is as common in the US as in Europe and there are those that don't think it is as safe (even though you'll often spot it behind the counter of your local Starbucks). I guess we have to choose what we think is the safest from all of our options. We drink enough milk, partially because I use it to make yogurt, that I typically buy an entire case of milk at a time.
Another beverage that we've grown accustomed to, which is actually a very typical Chinese thing to drink, is hot water all year round. Even when we visited in June during our home-finding trip, which was in the 80's, we were given hot water. I shouldn't have poked so much fun then, because now I love to have a mug of hot water before bed! It has no caffeine or sugar and it warms me up on these cold nights. If you ask for water at a restaurant, they will typically give you hot water, unless they serve enough foreigners and assume that you want cold water. Drink up!