China's largest beer maker has been handed a reprimand and told to withdraw its latest beer brand by the government, because its ingredients include traditional Chinese medicines - a practice banned in the country.

Tsingtao had hoped the beer would appeal to consumers looking for means to protect themselves against the SARS virus.

Tsingtao's Banlangen brand was launched in March. Many Chinese believe a dried root of the same name can help protect those who consume it from the SARS virus.

However, government authorities said that rules disallowed companies from adding traditional Chinese medicines to food and drink products or from using their names within brand names.

"We are preparing to recall all of our 'Banlangen' beer, which reached about 100 tonnes," Tsingtao spokesman Zhang Ruixiang said, a Reuters report stated. He did not say how much the recall would cost.

"We began developing beer with various flavours since last year. We not only have Banlangen beer, we also have developed green tea beer, bitter melon beer and chrysanthemum beer ... and most of them are available at stores now though sales volume is still very thin," Zhang said.