What Is Chinese Yeast Ball?

Using yeast in baking and fermentation is one of the earliest discoveries ever made by ancient communities. It was discovered even before writing itself. The Chinese have their special formulation, the Chinese yeast ball. Read on to learn how these balls are made, how they are used, and much more!

What is Chinese Dried Yeast?

Yeast Ball
Yeast Ball

Also known as Jiugu, small dried yeast balls are used to prepare Chinese alcoholic drinks. These balls contain numerous yeast, fungi, and bacteria that aid fermentation. One of the popular Chinese drinks prepared using these yeast balls is rice wine.

Where Was Yeast Invented?

Yeast was first invented in Egypt. Ancient Egyptians used it for baking bread around 1500 BC. It was not until 6000 BC that it was used in wine-making and beer brewing in Babylon.

However, this information is based on the written records. After years of extensive research, archaeologists believe that the use of yeast in baking may have begun much earlier than indicated.

When Was Dried Yeast Invented?

Dried yeast was invented in 1771. A simple method of preparation was employed. The yeast was mixed with wood ash. It was then placed under the sun to dry. After drying, the yeast was ready for use or to be stored.

As time went by, other methods were invented. These included covering the yeast in oil, bottling it, or burying it underground. It was not until 1822 that the commercial trade of dried yeast began in Vienna.

How to Make Chinese Yeast Ball

To make the Chinese yeast balls, you need a mixture of herbs, rice flour, and water. The herb mixture varies. Some ingredients are garlic, ginger, white pepper, and cinnamon. Grind these herbs into a paste.

Transfer the paste into a bowl, and add rice flour. Add water and mix until you form a rice dough. Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes. Proceed to make small-sized yeast balls.

Leave the balls to dry at room temperature for a week. Bring them outside, and leave them under direct sunlight for a day to dry completely. Your balls are now ready for use. You may safely store them for a maximum of three years. If you choose to store them, keep them in an airtight container.

How to Use Chinese Yeast Balls

Although Chinese yeast balls have a variety of uses, they are most used to make rice wine. Soak three cups of rice in water for a few hours to make the rice wine. Drain the water and cook the rice. Once it is cooked, run it under cold water to cool it down.

Pick one of the Chinese yeast balls and grind it into powder. Put the rice in a larger bowl and mix it with the powder. Poke a hole in the middle of the mixture, and keep the bowl warm. After a day and a half, your hole will contain sweet rice wine. You can enjoy it as it is or refrigerate it for a more hydrating effect.


With Chinese yeast balls, you can make rice wine at home. They are rich in numerous microbes, making fermentation easy and fast. The yeast balls are pretty easy to make.

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