All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Akajiso shiroppu, juusu & kakuteru / purple perilla leaf syrup, juice & cocktail

A ruby-colored summer tonic from the garden. Makes a tasty aperitif!


For syrup
(yield 200-300 cc syrup)
100 g akajiso purple perilla leaves (40 large katamenjiso in photo)
500 cc water
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 small lemons (approx. 3-4 tbsp lemon juice)

For juice & cocktail (not in photo)
Club soda or tonic water
Lemon (slices)
Vodka or gin (for cocktails)


Wash perilla leaves, and squeeze out excess water.


Bring water to boil, and put all perilla leaves.

Purple color is immediately released to hot water.

Reduce heat to medium, and boil for 5-6 minutes.


Strain into another pot (use acid-resistant pot, as you add lemon juice later).

Press perilla leaves with spatula to get most of liquid.


Put the pot on heat, add honey and sugar, and stir until honey and sugar are dissolved.

Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half or so.
Remove white foam that appears on surface while simmering.

Remove from heat. 


Squeeze lemon juice, and add to pot.

Let cool, strain, and keep refrigerated in a sealed container.


To use as a soft drink, dilute the syrup with water or soda (1 part syrup and 2-3 parts water/soda).
Serve with a lemon slice.

Add vodka or gin for a ruby-colored aperitif.

  • Katamenjiso leaves have a green top surface and purple bottom surface. I grow this mainly for hanaho perilla flowers, but it works like akajiso in terms of providing color.
  • Syrup keeps in the fridge for 2 months. Reduce further for longer storage.
  • Akajiso syrup is often made with rice vinegar or apple vinegar. Vinegar (citrus juice) turns the liquid color brighter. Before adding vinegar (citrus juice), color of liquid color is dark red purple.
  • Any sugar works. Above, granulated sugar is for a clean, light aftertaste, and honey is for mellowness and depth while cutting overall calories (77% of granulated sugar by weight). 
  • One tbsp honey gives about the same sweetness as 3 tbsp sugar.

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