My Favourite Korean “Diet” Drink – Drinking Vinegar

Can you imagine how happy I was when I not only found it in Toronto but my fav flavour
Can you imagine how happy I was when I not only found it in Toronto but one of my fav flavours

I drink a lot. No, not alcohol, that’s not what I’m talking about. But simply a lot of liquids… all kinds of liquids, from my tea first thing in the morning to the juice I drink while sleeping (don’t ask), I’m constantly drinking something. Of course, many of those things are full of calories like pop (or soda or soft drink depending on where in North American you’re from) which I try not to drink often, and even juice so I’m always looking to find something to drink that tastes yummy but isn’t chock full of calories. This article is the tale of how I found such a drink.

Drinking Vinegar

When I was living in Korea, in Seoul to be exact as I don’t remember drinking it in Ulsan, I used to wander around grocery stores (and still do). Actually, I used to wander around everywhere as I’m super curious but this tale is about my window shopping habits in grocery stores. You see, I love to cook and I’m curious, so of course, I wanted to see what was available – and not available – in my local grocery store. This led to some adventures – like the time I bought MSG instead of salt – but also led me to find some cool (and often delicious) ingredients.

I also had made friends with some of the employees in my local grocery store (as well as other shops in Bangi-dong but that’s another story) and one of them noticed I was trying to figure out what this bottle I was holding was. You see I had noticed the word Korean word for vinegar (식초, shikcho) but there were pictures of apples. So I trying to decide if it was apple cider vinegar. Of course, apple cider vinegar is quite common in Canada (I made salsa with it, as well as cook with it) but the bottle looked different, so I wasn’t sure.

Thankfully, the grocery store clerk was happy to tell me I was holding drinking vinegar. Um, what? Don’t laugh but that was my first thought. I was fascinated by the concept, especially as I love vinegar in all its forms. I currently have white vinegar, malt vinegar, apple cider vinegar and five different kinds of balsamic vinegar in my kitchen – and yes, I use them all, as well as drinking vinegar in my fridge.

It's simple to make, just pour some drinking vinegar in a glass, fill the rest of the glass with water (and maybe a couple of ice cubes) and you're good to go.
It’s simple to make, just pour some drinking vinegar in a glass, fill the rest of the glass with water (and maybe a couple of ice cubes) and you’re good to go.

So a vinegar I was supposed to drink… I had to try it.

And try it I did. Buying first the apple flavoured one and then going back and trying all the others in my local shop. I was hooked. Of course the low-calorie count was a bonus but really, it was the taste (and the bit of a bite that one expects from vinegar) that hooked me.

Fast forward a few years and I’m wandering around a Korean grocery store in Toronto and I stumble upon black raspberry (복분자, bokbunja) drinking vinegar. Yay! Now if only I could find bokbunja-ju (복분자주, Korean black raspberry wine) in Toronto but I digress… again. I was happy to be able to add it back into my stable of drinks.

So now you know the story, why do I like it?

Well, I’ve already mentioned some of the reasons but the main reason is the flavours, of course. It’s delicious. My favourite varieties so far are the apple, pomegranate and black raspberry but I have liked all those I’ve tried. I drink a lot of water with either freshly squeezed lime or lemon (I prefer lime but like both) so the tang in drinking vinegar suits my palate nicely.

Plus, while I’m not sure about all of the health benefits touted, it does seem to keep me from feeling hungry so I tend to drink it after coming home from work or after dinner so I don’t snack in the evenings.

Voila! It's ready to drink
Voila! It’s ready to drink

How do you drink it?

Buy a bottle, pour some into a glass, add water or seltzer (and perhaps some ice), stir and enjoy. Easy, right? The ratio of drinking vinegar to water depends on your taste. I’ve heard of some people who drink it straight – I’ve taken a tablespoon that way in place of doing so with apple cider vinegar but not an entire glass – but most mix it. I personally like it more diluted so tend to use a 1:3 ratio (1 part drinking vinegar, 3 parts water or seltzer) but I think 1:2 is the most common. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for your palate.

When I lived in Korea, I also used it for salad dressing as I usually use balsamic vinegar here and it was a nice alternative. Apparently, you can make your own – the recipes I’ve seen look quite easy but I haven’t tried yet. Hm…

Plus it’s apparently good for you

Many believe that it’s good for dieting, perhaps because it stimulates digestion, makes one feel ‘full’ so you don’t overeat and is fairly low-calorie. According to some of the articles I’ve read about it, it’s good for lowering one’s blood pressure and can balance the pH levels in your stomach but be careful of drinking too much on an empty stomach as may cause acid reflux or gastritis (vinegar is acidic after all). But like most things, it’s good in moderation so don’t be afraid to try it.

Final Thoughts

I love the slight fruit flavoured tang of drinking vinegar and the fact that I can control the strength of the flavours (remember it’s diluted by you). Whether it’s truly going to help me lose weight… who knows, but I certainly enjoy drinking it.

Have you tried Korean drinking vinegar? What did you think of it?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

20 thoughts on “My Favourite Korean “Diet” Drink – Drinking Vinegar

  • July 28, 2015 at 12:18 pm
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    Will start today ! Thanks and as I dont mind losing weight either…

    Reply
      • June 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm
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        Here at Virginia Gold Orchard, we ferment our black raspberries into a pure vinegar instead of flavoring vinegar with berry juice.

        We sell this concentrated Black raspberry vinegar $35 for a 8 oz bottle.

        To drink this you would need to dilute it by at least 4:1

        we use this for our own salad dressing.

      • June 21, 2017 at 7:02 pm
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        Iam just venturing into Korean cuisine good articale

  • September 28, 2015 at 12:16 am
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    Hi, thanks for this nice information. My friend gave me a bottle of italian salad dressing which has 백포도주 (baegpodoju) in its label. Do you have any clue whether it is a pure white wine or just the white wine vinegar commonly used in the salad dressing? I don’t drink any kind of alcohol but if it is only the vinegar, I think I’ll give it a try… Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • September 28, 2015 at 12:39 am
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      Hi Nathara, without seeing the salad dressing ingredients I can’t be sure but 백포도주 (baegpodoju) translates to white wine not white wine vinegar. If you don’t consume alcohol for health or religious reasons, I’d err on the side of caution unless someone can give you a more definite answer. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Reply
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  • July 26, 2016 at 1:27 am
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    Thanks for your insight; most informative!👌🏽I went to a Korean store and purchased Petitzel ( Lemon and Grape) Delicious !!!

    Reply
  • August 7, 2016 at 11:08 pm
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    Can you substitute lemon or lime for the acid over vinegar? I tried it but I don’t like vinegar to begin with and I really can’t do it.

    Reply
    • August 8, 2016 at 9:18 am
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      Hi Lorrie. Sure, I drink lime water frequently, and lemon water too. I’m not sure if it would have the same effect but it’s definitely refreshing in the summer.

      Reply
  • January 16, 2017 at 6:04 am
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    Hi! I’m just curious. It’s not alcoholic right? I have one of them which is petitzel’s green grape.

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  • June 1, 2017 at 10:17 am
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    Hi Cindy, I’m also in Toronto. Can you tell me which Korean supermarket you got these from? TIA 🙂

    Reply
    • June 1, 2017 at 10:43 am
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      Hi Michelle, I buy mine at P.A.T Mart because there’s one close to where I live but you can also get it at Galleria Supermarket. Not sure about any of the other Korean supermarkets but it’s a pretty common product so you may be able to get it at any of them.

      Reply
  • June 6, 2017 at 4:26 am
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    Hi, Cindy. My husband and I just returned from Japan where we drank small glasses (a bit bigger than a jigger) of what was described as ‘black raspberry juice and black vinegar. we didn’t inquire about the details, but have been trying to research it after returning. It was fabulous and both of us loved it. Any ideas about such a combo?

    Reply
    • June 6, 2017 at 6:38 am
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      Hi Maureen. Unfortunately, I don’t. My knowledge of Japanese drinks isn’t very good as I’ve only ever visited. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Reply

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