Chagayu (茶粥) is a tea rice porridge that is made in western Japan, but it is in Nara prefecture where it is most famous.
The oldest written account about chagayu comes from the year 752 in Todaiji Temple in Nara, making this dish more than 1,200 years old.
Rice porridges such as congee are very common in Asia. Hence, the idea of making one with tea is probably older than that, even before tea was introduced into Japan.
How to prepare chagayu
The tea used for chagayu is often houjicha, but it can be any Japanese tea.
Recipes vary, but I’ll give you a sample one.
Ingredients: 0.5 cup short grain rice, 3.5 cups of water, and 12 grams of houjicha leaves.
Rinse the rice first, otherwise the chagayu might become too dense.
Add the water, rice, and finally the houjicha in either a teabag, or an infuser.
With the stove at medium heat, wait until the water boils. At this point you can remove the tea leaves.
Foam may accumulate at the surface. You should also remove it.
Lower the heat and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Make sure that you don’t stir the rice, since it may thicken the chagayu too much.
You can also add some salt if you want.
The difference between chagayu and ochazuke
In both cases the basic ingredients are the same.
However, the rice is cooked while preparing the chagayu, while in the ochazuke the rice was cooked beforehand.
Rice in the chagayu is much softer for the same reason.
Finally, I’m sharing a short video about preparing chagayu.