Japanese Kombucha: Umami-Rich Kombu Seaweed Tea
Unlike the one known as tea mushroom or tea fungus, Japanese kombucha (昆布茶, こんぶ茶: kombu tea)” is a seaweed tea made from powdered kombu or kelp.
Japanese Kombucha Tea
The truth is that most Japanese people don’t even know there is another kombucha that is fermented, lightly effervescent, and sweetened with sugar.
The kombucha loved in Japan is not sweet at all. The tea is lightly salted and packed with umami from the seaweed kombu that is often used in Japanese cuisine to make soup stock or dashi.
Specifically, according to the ingredients label on the back of the package from Ito-En,
the base powder of the Japanese kombucha tea consists of salt, sugar, pulverized kombu (kelp), starch, and amino acid seasoning.
Although the tea contains some sugar, it isn’t sweet. It tastes like a dashi-rich seaweed soup.
Japanese kombucha tea is usually drunk hot as an afternoon tea or during a meal. But you can also serve it cold.
The preparation is straightforward; put half a teaspoon (about 2 grams) of the base powder in a cup and pour 100 ml of boiling or cold water. Stir well, and it’s ready to drink.
By the way, the seaweed particles contain 1.2 g salt equivalents per 2 grams.
As another usage, the base powder is often used as a seasoning, like a dashi broth mix.
For example, just with the granules, you can easily make Asazuke pickles like this,
- Cut vegetables, like cucumber, carrot, Chinese cabbage, or cabbage, into bite-size pieces.
- Put the vegetable pieces (100 g), kelp tea powder (1 tablespoon), and some red chili peppers together in a zip lock bag and rub them lightly.
- Remove air out of the bag and close it.
- Let the bag rest for about half an hour in the fridge.
- Then, drain the exudate and serve the pickled vegetables on a plate.