もったいない!How to Eat Your Tea

もったいない!How to Eat Your Tea

Are you throwing away your used tea leaves? If so, you might be missing out!

Why People Drink Green Tea

Ocha is of East Asian origin, but many people in the West people are now drinking green tea for its abundant health properties. Green tea is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and full to brimming with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Some people drink it for its anti-aging and skin-beautifying effects. Others drink it as a coffee substitute for its caffeine content. Some even take it as part of a cancer treatment regimen. Of course, that’s not to mention its clean and refreshing taste (which goes perfectly with wagashi)!

Photo Credit: PexelsQuang Nguyen Vinhによる写真

That being said if you are drinking several cups of ocha a day but you are  throwing away the used tea leaves afterwards, you might be missing out on the greatest health benefits.

Why You Should Eat Your Tea

In fact, many of the nutrients in green tea are water insoluble and don’t dissolve into your drink. Instead they remain trapped in the leaves that are left in your teapot. In order to get the full benefits of ocha, you need to eat the leaves themselves! You might find the idea of eating your tea a bit odd, but just think about matcha. These days, there is matcha everything–from matcha latte to matcha ice cream to matcha Kit Kat. Matcha is made by grinding dry tea leaves into a fine powder, and we can do the same with regular green tea. It’s easy! Here’s how:

How To Dry Your Tea Leaves

First, microwave your tea leaves for 30 seconds to 1 minute at 600W. Once cool, spread them out on a newspaper, a cookie sheet, parchment paper, or anything that the leaves won’t stick to. Do note that if you dry them on a bamboo “zaru” (ざる, sieve) as in the photo above, it is rather tricky to shake out all the small pieces and you may end up mixing some dust with your tea. Whatever you lay them out on, the leaves should be dry in a day or so, and you can store them in an airtight container and add them to any of your favorite recipes for a health boost. Here are a few ideas:

How to Eat Your Tea

Green Tea Pancakes

Photo Credit: PexelsEva Elijasによる写真
  • 2 TBS Dried green tea leaves
  • 100g Pancake mix
  • 100ml Milk or milk substitute
  1. Use paper towel to squeeze out moisture from used tea leaves.
  2. Toast in frying pan until all moisture has evaporated, or microwave for 6 minutes (600W).
  3. Use blender to combine with milk, and add to pancake mix.
  4. Cook pancakes as usual.
  5. Add any toppings of your choice.

(Original Recipe)

Green Tea Furikake

Photo Credit: PhotoAC
  • 50g Dried green tea leaves
  • 15g Hard, dried baby sardines
  • 1 TBS Soy sauce
  • 1 TBS Sake
  • 15g Bonito flakes
  • 1 TBS Toasted sesame seeds
  1. Add dried green tea leaves to frying pan and turn on heat.
  2. Add baby sardines, soy sauce, and sake and cook until moisture has evaporated.
  3. Turn off heat, add bonito flakes and toasted sesame seeds, and mix.
  4. Enjoy over a piping hot bowl of rice or sprinkle over pasta.

(Original recipe)

Wet Tea Leaf Recipes

In the previous recipes we dried the tea leaves, because wet leaves mold easily. However, if you plan to use them immediately, no problem! Add them to your omelette or scrambled eggs, use them to garnish your natto, or combine with umeboshi and bonito flakes for a simple side dish. 超簡単!Super easy!

If you grew up in Japan, did your mom, grandma, or auntie ever add tea leaves to their cooking? If not, how do you feel about eating your tea? Let us know in the comments, or post a photo of your favorite tea-leaf recipes on Instagram. (Don’t forget to tag @wafuuinthewest.com if you do!)

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