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


Shincha gohan / steamed rice with first-flush green tea leaves

In late spring through early summer, you see the expression "shincha" here and there in Japan. This is the first flush of sencha -- a type of everyday green tea that most Japanese would probably think of when they hear the word "ocha." While not a premium tea like gyokuro, which is steeped at much lower temperature to bring out its mellow, velvety note and texture, shincha is still highly prized for a somewhat light, young and clean "green" taste and aroma. It is available only for a limited time each year, and to take advantage of this seasonal tea, it is often used as an ingredient in food. This is just one of many examples.

1/2 of recipe:
276 calories; 5.5 g protein; 0.8 g fat; 58.8 g carbohydrate; 57.7 g net carbs; 55 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber


180 cc* rice
Approx. 190-200 cc water (not in photo)
1/2 tbsp shincha green tea leaves
1/2 tbsp sakura ebi dried shrimp
1 3-4cm piece kombu kelp
1/2 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt

*1 rice cooker cup = 180 cc


Rinse rice, drain, and let sit for 30 minutes.


Put shiokoji and water to 1 cup mark, and mix well.
Put kombu, and cook.


Meanwhile, toast sakura ebi (without oil) on low heat in a small frying pan until somewhat crispy.

Set aside.
Briefly toast tea leaves (without oil) on low heat until aromatic.

Wrap in cloth or paper towel, and crush.
Set aside.


When rice is done, remove kombu, and wait 10 minutes.


Gently turn and fluff.

Mix in sakura ebi and tea leaves, gently turn, and wait 5-10 minutes.

  • Adding sakura ebi is optional.
  • If shiokoji is not available, use salt. 1/2 tsp salt per 180cc rice would make the rice taste quite salty: try 1/4-1/3 tsp salt as a start. Watch out for sodium content if using salt – 1/4 tsp kosher salt contains 280 mg sodium.
  • If using tea leaves that have already been used to make tea, toast tea leaves until dry and crispy on low heat (shown in photos at right), and then crush. Tea leaves that have been steeped only once (to brew only the first cup) work best. The taste and aroma have pretty much gone into the tea you made, but when more leaves are used, you can get some sense of the flavor and bouquet.
  •  If shincha is not available, any sencha works fine. In that case, the dish is called ryokucha gohan [steamed rice with green tea] or ocha no mazegohan [steamed rice mixed with green tea leaves] or something along those lines.

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