Updated: November 06, 2018
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Japanese Kombu Cha: A Delicious Tea Made From Seaweed!

Seaweed is an important element of Japanese cuisine. However, outside of Japan, few people know what kinds of seaweeds are consumed and how they are consumed. Many foreigners are surprised to know that seaweed can be the basic flavor of a simple tea infusion called kombu cha. Here is an introduction to the Japanese seaweed tea!

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Kombu Cha

Kombu Cha, which can be literally translated to "kombu kelp tea" is, as that translation implies, a tea made from the kombu seaweed. The kombu is dried, then it is often cut into small pieces or crushed into a powder. In it's most basic form, hot water is poured on the prepared kombu, a sprinkle of salt is added to the concoction and it is drank as a tea. The white powder on the seaweed is what is released in the water and gives the tea its umami (some kind of deep flavor often found in Japanese cuisine).
Also, it is caffeine-free, suitable for vegans, people with gluten-free and Halal diets!

Variations In Flavors

An often-found addition to the basic broth are dried plums. The drink is then called ume (plum) kombu. The plums give a pinkish color to the tea and a more acidic taste.
Gyokuro, a kind of high quality green tea is also often added to the drink. This makes the flavor and color naturally closer to green tea. The green tea leaves add a light bitterness that blends well with the umami. This tea can be enjoyed with simple Japanese foods such as the rice balls shown above.

Where To Buy Kombucha in Japan

You can have kombucha at certain Japanese-style restaurants but it isn't on every menu. A simple way to try it is by buying some at a super market.
Gyokuroen makes a popular umekombu cha (picture above) at a standard price of 330 yen, and Itoen makes a nice standard one (picture below) that sells for 300 yen.

Health Benefits

Kombu improves thyroid function because of its high iodine content, in fact, it has the highest iodine content among seaweeds. Glutamic acid is naturally present in Kombu, which gives it an "umami" flavor. Kombu is also well-known for aiding digestion and reducing gas. It also contains calcium and iron, the latter helps to fight anemia. Kombu also helps to purify the blood, detoxify and with weight-loss, and most importantly, it is famous for being an anti-cancer food!

How To Use It?

Ume kombucha soup recipe

This plum-flavored kombucha egg soup is the easiest thing to make, and it's a great accompaniment to rice!

-150 ml of water
-1 tsp of ume kombucha
-1 egg
-1 cabbage leaf

1.Add water and cabbage to a pot and bring it to a boil.
2.Add the ume kombucha and mix.
3.Beat the egg and mix it into the soup.

And there you have it a deliciously simple soup.

To Clear Some Confusion: "Kombu Cha" In Other Parts Of The World

In western countries, what is often referred to as "kombu cha" teas have really grown in popularity. However, what is most of the time being referred to as "kombu cha" abroad has nothing to do with the Japanese one. For one thing, it has no kombu seaweed, so the term is broadly being misused. The popular western version of kombu cha is an acidic fermented tea that is made from yeast (see picture below).
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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