This particular mature vinegar (chengcu) is North China's best-known vinegar, with a long history that is said to date back 3,000 years. And, as the technology improved across the ages, a mature development process was developed by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), by which time Shanxi’s vinegar, especially the Taiyuan brand (Taiyuan Tequ) was known across China.
The vinegar is brewed from sorghum at a high temperature and, after more than a year of fermentation, the water is evaporated by the sun in summer and ice in winter, to produce its fragrance and density. It is produced primarily in Qingxu county, near the provincial capital, Taiyuan, with Yiyuanqing, a Taiyuan company, being the best-known brand.
Shanxi has more than 100 factories involved in the business and has other famous brands, including Lingchuanyuquan and Huguanxinzhai. The vinegar comes in very-mature, mature, Shanxi, flavored, and smoked brands, depending on the materials and process.