Cooking with tea お茶の調理

  • Published on : 11/02/2019
  • by : S.V.
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Tea on your plate

Whether it's consumed ceremonially, or simply bought in a can from a vending machine or konbini, tea is an essential part of daily life in Japan. But Japanese tea isn't just used for drinking...

This tea-flavored porridge was created in the temples of the former imperial capital. It's preparation at Todaiji Temple is mentioned in writings dated from the year 752. The dish was originally reserved for religious occasions, but quickly gained the rest of the population.

In the recipe, rice is cooked in an infusion of bancha or houjicha. But in reality it's quite possible to use another variety of tea. In the islands of Seto Inland Sea and Shikoku Island, chagayu is made from goishi-cha, an unusual tea with a two-stage fermentation process, which is dried in the form of small black balls.

  • Discover: Setouchi, in the Seto Inland Sea


Ochazuke would be just like the chagayu from a temple in the former province of Yamato (now Nara region). Although it was known about from the Heian period (794-1185), the dish only became really popular during the Edo period (1603-1868).

People back then particularly appreciated its practicality. Nothing is more convenient to put together than cooked rice and hot tea! In 1952, ochazuke went through a small revolution which made it even more convenient. A company developed an instant version of ochazuke, that's still marketed throughout Japan today; small sachets containing dried ingredients and tea powder, that you simply sprinkle over your cooked rice before adding hot water.


Of these, it's worth mentioning ocha no me tempura, or "tea bud tempura". In Shizuoka prefecture, they grow shincha, the first tea harvest of the year, made using young leaves and their buds. These young shoots are harvested at the beginning of May, during the very first harvest.

These soft young leaves are dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried. These tempura bites give off an unusual spring-like aroma. Shincha is only available for a few weeks each year, make this tempura a rare and sought-after dish.

ocha-no-me tempura

Shincha, young tea leaves

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  • Sat, 12/21/2019 - 00:00

    Cooking with Tea Beautiful temples. Definitely worth a visit to Kamakura!

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