Ancient China Food

Ancient China food comprised a variety of vegetables, meats and grains. The main staple of ancient China food was rice and then millet.

Rice was grown in the southern region of the country where the climate is wet and warm. Millet was harvested in the northern region of the country where the climate is dry and cool.

Over time, ancient China food progressed to include wheat, vegetables like soy beans, cucumbers and sorghum, as well as meats including pork which was native to ancient China.
Ancient China Food


Rice and millet were the most consumed staples in ancient China. Rice was either eaten alone or accompanied with an assortment of meats especially fish in the southern region of the country.

Fish would be wrapped in cooked rice and would be fermented for up to a year before being eaten. Rice dumplings were popular during the first full moon of a New Year and the ancient Chinese made wishes for good fortune while eating the dumplings.

Tea is considered to be the national drink of ancient China. The ancient Chinese believed that tea was an exquisite form of art. They introduced planting techniques, processing methods and how to drink tea properly.
Classic White Mantou
Wine was popular in Ancient China and made of rice. Yellow rice wine was the first type of wine introduced in ancient China.

Millet and sorghum were used to make porridges. Millet required less water and cooler temperatures to grow.

Sorghum needed even less fertilizer, water and could grow in colder climates. Millet was also used to make a wine which was popular.

After wheat was introduced in ancient China, production of the crop helped feed the growing country. Wheat crops take longer to grow than millet, sorghum or rice.

Wheat was used to make dough which was then made into noodles. Over time noodles became a staple of ancient Chinese diets.
Datong Fideos


Ancient China food included numerous meats for protein. Pigs were native to ancient China and provided much of the meat that was eaten. Other animals like goats, dogs, deer, oxen, and cattle.

Water fowl such as ducks and geese were regularly consumed in ancient China and chicken was part of their diets too.

Residents in southern ancient China ate lots of fish. Fishermen caught a wide variety of fish from sharks to tunas to carps. Shellfish was also a commonly consumed food in ancient China for people living along the ocean coastline.

Other foods

Other ancient China foods included cucumbers, onions and garlic. Soybeans were also cultivated and eaten in many forms. Soybean milk was used to make tofu which originated in ancient China.

Tofu provided ancient Chinese people a cheaper form of protein. Meat was expensive and only wealthy or noble families consumed large quantities of meats.

Tofu could be easily made by all ancient Chinese people wealthy or poor. Tofu was also eaten regularly by Buddhist in ancient China who did not eat meat.


Tea was an important drink in ancient China. The ancient Chinese invented tea. Tea was grown as a staple crop like rice and millet. Tea was consumed during ceremonies and daily meals.

Important facts about ancient China food

  • Rice and millet were the two most eaten ancient China foods.
  • Rice was grown in the southern portion of the country were the weather was warm and wet.
  • Millet was cultivated in the northern region where the climate was cooler and drier.
  • Pigs were native animals to ancient China.
  • Yellow rice wine was a popular drink in ancient China.
  • Tea was created, grown and processed originally in ancient China and considered to an exquisite form of art.
  • Tofu is made from soybean milk and is an excellent source of protein.
  • Fish were widely consumed in the southern portion of ancient China.


1. What is the major component to making tofu?

Soybean milk

2. What type of rice wine was widely consumed in ancient China?

Yellow rice wine

3. What animal was native to ancient China and provided most of the meat in the country?


4. What did ancient Chinese people make noodle with?

Wheat dough