Archaeologists and researchers found a room in China that dates back to between 3400-2900BC. The room was unearthed below ground, providing for a cool location. In this room, pots, funnels and jugs were found and tested for residue. And what was found would make most of us Bendites beam with pride. The residue was found to be that of millet, Job’s tears (which is also called Chinese Pearl Barley), and, if you haven’t guessed yet, barley! This 5,000 year old room is thought to be China’s earliest brewery and the earliest example of barley being used in China (barley itself was not indigenous to the area, and though it was thought to have been brought over from parts of western Asia, when exactly isn’t known). The testing also showed that they were using different tubers for sweetening and flavor.
When asked what the brew would have tasted like, the Stanford researcher Jiajing Wang, espoused “it would taste a bit sour and a bit sweet”......which almost sounds like a bad stereotypical answer. As the Chinese, and especially the ancient Chinese, put a great stock into food and the 5 tastes (sour, bitter, sweet, acrid, salty), I would bet, not having seen the entire recipe, they would have incorporated all the flavors. What makes the sweet and sour a common theme, is that these are the tastes of the Spleen and the Liver, two of the body’s organ systems, which in Chinese Medicine, can be put easily out of balance by diet and emotions; the combined use of their flavors helps maintain balance.