Black vinegar is a traditional condiment in Chinese cuisine. According to existing written records, the ancient Chinese laborers used wine as a leavening agent to ferment and brew vinegar. East Asian vinegar originated in China, and there are at least three thousand years of documented history of making vinegar. In ancient China, "vinegar" was called "bitter wine," which also indicates that "vinegar" originated from "wine." 
Black vinegar is an inky-black vinegar aged for a malty, woody, and smoky flavor. It was first popularized in East Asia, particularly southern China, where in the city of Zhenjiang it became known as Chinkiang vinegar. It is made from rice (usually glutinous), or sorghum, or in some combination of those, sometimes including wheat and millet.
A very different black vinegar is made on the central plains of China and is most associated with Shanxi province. Known as mature vinegar (simplified Chinese: 老陈醋; traditional Chinese: 老陳醋; pinyin: laochencu), it is made from sorghum, peas, barley, bran and chaff and has a much stronger smoky flavor than rice-based black vinegar. It is popular in the north of China as a dipping sauce, particularly for dumplings.
Some[who?] claim that black vinegar has numerous medicinal properties, such as a tonic which may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In Japan, kurozu is a somewhat lighter form of black vinegar, made just from rice. It has been marketed as a healthful drink.
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