Chagayu

chagayu
photo credit: wallyg Nara – Naramachi: Hiraso – Chagayu via photopin (license)

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.

6 Comments

  1. Regan
    September 20, 2017

    This looks good, and I love houjicha!

    Reply
    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      September 20, 2017

      Hi Regan

      It’s an easy recipe, you should give it a try 🙂

      Reply
  2. Gihan
    January 21, 2020

    Hi Ricardo..thanks for sharing..I’ll definitely try it..just wondering about the amout of liquid left after 30 minutes cooking as there were plenty in the video.. have a good day 😊

    Reply
    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      January 21, 2020

      Hi Gihan. If it were normal rice, then cooking it just requires a little bit more water than the volume of rice.

      But this rice is cooked so that it is a porridge, so you need much more water and the rice itself will become much softer. Note that the tea leaves also absorb some of the water.

      Of course, you can use less water if you want.

      Reply
  3. lee
    April 21, 2020

    Thank you for this! My grandma used to make it when I was a kid, and it really took me back.

    I actually made it with a bunch of leftover rice that was in the fridge. Submerged the old, cold rice and brought it to a boil with some genmaicha. Didn’t give it the simmer. Next time though, ima do it your way. Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      April 21, 2020

      Hi Lee

      If you used leftover rice, then it’s more of an ochazuke than a chagayu.

      Hope you enjoyed it.

      Reply

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