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Eating Tea Leaves!

I finished the book Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, and there was a little essay that she wrote at the end of the Oxford World Classics edition called “The Last Generation in England.” It describes the town of Knutsford, where she lived as a child. I thought you all would be amused by this passage:

“At her house there was a little silver basket-strainer, and once remarking on this, she showed me a silver saucer pierced through with holes, and told me it was a relic of the times when tea was first introduced in England; after it has been infused and the beverage drank, the leaves were taken out of the teapot and placed on this strainer, and then eaten by those who liked with sugar and butter, and ‘very good they were,’ she added.”

Has anyone else heard of eating tea leaves? Has anyone else EATEN tea leaves? I double dog dare ya!

44 Replies

Well, it’s a leaf…it could be done…lol…
Seriously tho…there was a guy on steepster (can’t remember who) who used to eat Adagio’s green loose leaf leaves and raved about them!

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Cofftea said

I cook w/ tea. Infact I have all 3 of Dr. Tea’s Tea Garden’s spice blends. My local tea shop has them too but I haven’t tried them. That being said I don’t like hard crunchy things on my food so I do put the spice blend into a spice mill before applying them. And then there’s my favorite way to eat tea leaves (or drink)… matcha! But full leaf? No.

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my fiancee ate some already steeped jasmine tea leaves just to try it out. but they were steeped so they were soft. he hasn’t done it seance lol

Cofftea said

Haha I tried one of my Jasmine #12 too. Even after 5 (albeit short) steeps, it was tough.

thats prob y he didnt say anything when i asked how it was lol

Pekoe said

my dad ate a jasmine pearl by accident once. we were in the care and i held the box up fpr him to smell and he picked on e out and ate it, ad spit it out the window soon after.

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TeaParT said

I’m not sure about eating tea leaves unless they are used like herbs. I do fix a sweet tisane called Children’s Circus that my kid eats up like a fruit cup. It sounds weird but makes sense I cook with fruit bits all the time. He even likes the soggy little popcorn chunks. For myself, I stick with enjoying it as a tea.

Cofftea said

Yeah, eating fruit is vastly different than eating tea. I’ve been known to pick out the apple bits when I’m done steeping a tea that contains them;)

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spohkh said

There have been a few times I’ve eaten green leaves after having been steeped. I’m still alive and they were pretty good, of course I really like vegetables. The texture was like the heart end of an artichoke leaf. Waste not…

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Teaspoon said

My puppy when Im not looking will slurp up the last of my tea and leaves, but if her face is any indication of how good leaves are, well…I wont be trying any.

Cofftea said

Watch her carefully, tea leaves are dangerous for dogs.

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Yeah, I’ve eaten leaves. Never felt sick or anything, but I ate them in small amounts – just a few leaves after I finished steeping.
In my experience, yellow tea produces the best ones.
It’s an interesting thing to try – you get more in touch with different leaves, and get more of an idea of the quality of the leaves, from different teas and sizes (Pekoe, Souchong, etc). Smaller leaves are more tender, while bigger leaves, as you’ll find in oolongs, tend to be more chewy.

Another interesting note, in a Korean tea shop nearby, I remember one of the workers, from Korea I believe, and really knew his tea, (I think a co-manager) on several occasions offering me dry leaf, while popping some in his own mouth. He told me it wasn’t an uncommon thing to do.
Frankly, I prefer steeped leaf, but dry isn’t all that bad really – give it a try sometime.

Cofftea said

Dry leaf ick lol. That’s the very reason I grind my tea rubs.

Perhaps I might like them sauteed in garlic and soy sauce, like I had my kale tonight! I don’t think I would like them with sugar and butter, even if they were on a pretty silver thingum.

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DukeGus said

I’ll resurrect this thread because I’m interested in eating tea leaves.

I tried a good amount only once, it was a semi-fermented oolong tea leaves with just some sesame oil and it wasn’t bad…but the sesame oil overpowered everything :) I have tried occasionally eating just one or two leaves but I wouldn’t mind if I did that more often and I need someone to guide me!

Doesn’t anyone do it more often? Do you add anything to them or just eat them plain?

Shadowleaf said

The Japanese sometimes make tempura out of used tea leaves. I suppose you can eat a lot of leaves that way.

DukeGus said

Yeah sounds like a nice way, but what kind of tea do they usually do it with?
I guess matcha is out of the question :)

I would think the bigger and more whole the steeped leaves are, the better.
There has been quite the trend lately of deep frying all types of salad and herb greens. Kale, parsley, sage, arugula. It is very good. We’ve done several. I will definately try the tea.
Go with a nice oolong leaf. Save after steeping. try it without a tempura batter first.

DukeGus said

Really deep fried herbs and salad leaves??? Sound crunchy but I wouldn’t do it very often :)

I would love to read some tea-crazy human dressing the tea leaves like a salad and eating them after steeping…

Shadowleaf said

Sencha would be the most normal tea, I think. Considering the amount of leaves one uses when making gyokuro, it should also suffice. Matcha is, like Excelsior says, already made out of whole tea leaves that have been grinded into fine powder, so while you may have problems using it for tempura, you can still drink the whole leaves or include it as a seasoning to something else. :)

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Google Pickled or Marinated Tea Leaves. I enjoyed these in a private tea garden in Hawaii. The were the whole two leaves and bud that had been saved after steeping, then pickled. These were home grown and hand processed leaves.

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s720x720/382836_2490934107542_1078424202_32195989_1935161941_n.jpg

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I’ve used revolution tea’s early grey lavender in a spice mill and added the blend to earl grey infused cupcakes with lavender lemon frosting :)

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