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In South and Central America, chicha is a fermented or non-fermented beverage usually derived from maize. Chicha includes corn beer known as chicha de jora and non-alcoholic beverages such as chicha morada. Archaeobotanists have found evidence for chicha made from maize, the fruit of Schinus molle and Prosopis pods. Chichas can also be made from quinoa, kañiwa, peanut, manioc root (also called yuca or cassava), palm fruit, potato, Oxalis tuberosa, chañar or various other fruits.

While chicha is most commonly associated with maize, the word is used in the Andes for almost any homemade fermented drink, and many unfermented drinks. Many different maize landraces, grains or fruits have been and can be used to make chicha in different regions. The way in which chicha is made and defined is likely to change depending on the region.