Tsingtao Qingdao

“You know that beer you order at Sunsun’s with the Cantonese chow-mein, T-SING TAOW? Well it’s a place and you won’t like how it’s pronounced..”

Many Chinese restaurants in the US and UK have tabletop promo placards that tell us to “Just say ‘Cheeng-dow’ ” when ordering Tsingtao Beer, and that’s pretty much how it is pronounced. Having trouble with figuring out how to say Chinese words when you can’t read characters? Enter pinyin. During the freshly liberated honeymoon halo of early 50’s China, Zhou Youguang led the pinyin project which created a writing and reading system that provided a needed update on the alphabetic representation of hanzi, or Chinese characters. Pinyin is still in use today – in textbooks, on road signs, even on the currency in China, the renminbi yuan (RMB). In pinyin, the characters 青岛 are written as Qingdao.

Tsingtao is the older version still being used on bottles, kegs (and plastic bags) around the world.

Many Chinese learners agree that pinyin is a more sensible and accurate Romanization system compared to older versions like gwoyeu romatzyh and Wade-Giles. What it all translates to is quite a few different ways to write out the name for the Olympic city (the 29th Sailing Regatta of the 2008 Summer Olympics was in Qingdao). Tsingtao is the older drunken version still being used on bottles, kegs (and plastic bags) around the world, and for good measure, the Germans called it Tsingtau when they were brewing out of Qingdao. For more info on Qingdao’s many names, check out Qingdao By Any Other Name.

Relevant Links:
Qingdao By Any Another Name
Qingdao City Government
Tsingtao Beer (China)
The World’s Most Iconic Photo of Tsingtao Beer in A Bag by Marc Montebello

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  1. Simon

    I think Ching-Dow would work best!! oh war boo Zzzz dow!

  2. mei ji

    wo ai ha pi jiu !

  3. Came across this on the net around the time of the beer fest 2012

    Tsingtao or Qingdao? Either way, a beer icon


    Tsingtao Brewery’s century of history and worldwide reputation are the backbone of the Qingdao International Beer Festival.

    Though the old-fashioned spelling Tsingtao differs from the present-day rendering Qingdao, the beer is sometimes a much more recognized icon than the city itself.

    “The brand of the beer has already infiltrated into the blood of Qingdao residents. Many tourists know of Qingdao because of its beer. What’s behind the beer is the vibrant culture and rich history that grows along with the city,” Tsingtao Beer Chairman Sun Mingbo said.

    Founded in 1903 as a joint venture by German and British settlers, the Tsingtao Beer brand is now valued at more than 63 billion yuan ($9.9 billion), the top among Chinese brewers, and big enough to join the ranks of the Fortune 500.

    It is now sold in more than 70 countries and regions around the world, and ranks sixth globally in production, according to the Barth Report, an authoritative beer industry compilation.

    Sun said that Tsingtao Beer’s next goal in the not too distant future is to produce 10 million kiloliters yearly through mergers and acquisitions and expanded local output, while ramping up innovation and enhancing product quality.

    “We will continue to implement our three-in-one marketing strategy to boost market share through brand communication, product sales and consumer experience. Internally, we will strengthen quality control and stress on innovation in technology and business models,” said Sun.

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