One of the most common questions I get from people who drink a lot of loose leaf tea is, ‘What can I do with all my tea leaves after?’ This tea salad is a treat we made all the time at the tea farm I worked on in Japan. It only takes a couple minutes to make and is packed full of all the nutrients of the tea leaves.
I make this tea salad using ‘kabuse sencha’ (かぶせ煎茶), or shaded sencha. Shaded sencha is covered with black netting just after the leaves begin to sprout. The shading reduces sunlight by up to 85%, making the leaves ‘fight’ harder to survive. This causes the roots to send more nitrogen and other nutrients to the leaves, turning them a deep blue-green. It makes the leaves become wider, thinner, and much more chlorophyll-rich.
After being picked, the leaves are steamed for 40 to 50 seconds to stop them from oxidizing and keep their fresh, green flavour. They then go through several rolling processed until they achieve the thin, needle-shaped Japanese teas are known for. If you’d like to learn more about how Japanese tea is processed, you can visit my
Quick and Easy Tea Salad Recipe with Twice-Steeped Tea and Soy Sauce
- 1 shot glass Japanese green tea
- 2 tbsp toasted brown rice to taste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce to taste
- PreparationThe first thing you’ll want to do is to make your tea. If you’re brewing kabuse sencha, I recommend you use a nice, big teapot. I’m using a traditional Japanese kyusu here, but it will work just as well in a standard North American one.Steeping InstructionsThe nice thing about this recipe is that you get to enjoy a cup of tea while making it! Prepare your teapot, and then drop in a generous portion of your tea. The measurement I use when making this is one shot glass just less than full of tea for a large teapot or 500ml kyusu.For kabuse sencha use water that is around 75˚ for your first steep and only steep your tea for about 1 minute before pouring off all your tea. Then, do a second steep with your water around 90˚ and a short steep of around 20 seconds and pour off all the tea again.AssemblyOpen your teapot! Inside you should have a nice collection of tender, twice-steeped tea leaves that are still packed with flavour and nutrients.Take the tea inside the teapot and using chopsticks, pull it out and plate it. For this amount of tea, you can get either two small salads, one large salad, or four ‘taster’ sized salads.After you’ve extracted the tea, sprinkle a bit of toasted brown rice on the top. This is actually the same toasted brown rice you can find in genmaicha, or brown rice tea. After that, add just a few drops of soy sauce. The key here is to not drown your carefully crafted salad and turn it into a salty mess. You can always add more soy sauce.And that’s it! Ready to eat in less than five minutes. Or longer, if you want to draw it out and take your time drinking the tea.
Tea salad optional add-insHere are a few other assembly items that work well in this recipe. Maybe try it with your family and have a few pinch bowls full of each so everyone can decorate their own tea salad.
- Sesame seeds
Have you made this salad? I’d love to see the results! Tag @melhadtea on Instagram so I can check out your tea salads. Have any more add-in suggestions? Put them in the comments below.