Recipe: Fermented Green Tea Leaf Salad
Gasp. I have not had a blog post in several months!!!
Well, pandemic, and writing assignments, and preparing Seven Pots of Tea for publication this month. It has been busy these past few month – so while I have a teeny break before Seven Pots of Tea releases in a few weeks… I’m sharing a recipe that uses tea leaves – not to make tea but as a salad.
Fun fact: Tea bushes used to grow wild in North Eastern India and tribes would to drink a beverage made from its leaves. They have been known to ferment tea leaves in bamboo poles (and bury them and smoke the bamboo) long before any Europeans or other settlers set foot in the country.
I had heard about a Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, and never had made it let alone tasted it. I imagine that since Burma / Myanmar is so close to India, it is likely that the recipe travelled across this region – and may be made in India too in some form. Regardless, it sounded like it would be a tasty way to use up green tea leaves. With the amount of research going into tea, and the number of times I was making green-tea, there were plenty of extra tea leaves. We have made this in the height of the pandemic when grocery runs were very limited.
This recipe missed the book, ‘Seven Pots of Tea’ because it is not explicitly Indian (that I know of), has no direct connection to Ayurveda and because it not vegetarian. However, use paneer to make it vegetarian, or tofu if you wish to make it vegan. The great part is that you only need small quantities of ingredients to build the salad.
Fermented Green Tea Leaf Salad
Makes 3-4 small sides or salad for one
Fermented green tea leaves
2 tbsp. premium gunpowder green tea leaves 1 cup boiling water plus extra for rinsing 1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame oil 1 tsp nigella seeds ¼ cup broccoli slaw ¼ red onion, sliced 1 tsp ponzu sauce, optional
1 tsp sesame oil ¼ tsp Thai red curry paste 1 tsp Tamari 6-8 shrimp, cleaned / deveined or Paneer, or Tofu ¼ cup grated carrots 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Fried garlic slices, optional but recommended
To prepare the fermented green tea leaves: Bring one cup of water to boil and remove from heat. Add green tea leaves to this, cover and allow to steep for 2 minutes. Strain out the tea (this can be consumed). Rinse the leaves with ¼ cup warm water until the water does not appear gritty. Squeeze out water and place it in a small covered bowl. Toss the leaves in sesame oil, cover, and set aside in refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Broccoli slaw: Warm up 1 tsp sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add nigella seeds, broccoli slaw, sliced onions and ponzu sauce and sauté until the slaw is a little soft. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.
Shrimp: Warm up 1 tsp sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add Thai red curry paste, Tamari and cleaned shrimp (or protein of choice). Cook for 5-6 minutes until the shrimp is curled and pink (cooked), or the protein has seared and taken on the flavors. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.
Carrots & Onions: Toss the grated carrots and onion slices in rice wine vinegar. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.
The salad can be assembled in two ways: either all the ingredients can be tossed together just before serving, or the separate pieces can be arranged on a platter, to allow diners to choose their ideal ‘balance’ of flavors.
I sprinkled some garlic chives over the shrimp but shredded Thai basil or Red Basil would be perfect too.