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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Lipid Analyses Provide Valuable Clues About the Ingredients in Beverages from Ancient China

item Moreau, Robert
item Nunez, Alberto

Submitted to: Inform
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2005
Publication Date: March 20, 2005
Citation: Moreau, R.A., Nunez, A. 2005. Fermented beverages from ancient china. Inform 16:326-327.

Technical Abstract: Prehistoric (7000 BC) samples of powders that were the remains of beverages were discovered and collected in several locations in China. These samples were analyzed using modern methods for analysis of food lipids. Two types of food lipids were found: ferulate phytosteryl esters (probably derived from rice) and beeswax (probably derived from honey). The prehistoric samples also contained constituents that were derived from fruit. Proto-historic (1000 BC) samples that were fragrant liquids in bronze vessels were similarly collected and analyzed. The proto-historic samples contained constituents that identified them as unique grain-based beverages that were made without honey or fruit. A class of lipids called triterpenoids were detected in these samples. The triterpenoids were perhaps derived from the leaves of fragrant trees, and they contributed to the aromatic properties of these beverages. These analyses provide the first direct evidence of fermented beverages in ancient Chinese culture, and they help to understand later advancements in Chinese archeological food chemistry.

Last Modified: 4/19/2015
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