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Does anyone "eat" the steeped green tea leaves?

I have been enjoying rather large tied green tea balls that open up when steeped into green tea flowers. Most of the tea leaves stay in their tie, but some of the leaves break off into the tea and float to the surface. I find that chewing on them is quite tasty. Can I safely swallow them?

Is there any reason NOT to consume these green tea leaves? Is there any benefit?

We stuffed our Thanksgiving turkey with steeped green tea leaves and it was quite good, although perhaps somewhat subtle. Are there other uses for the steeped or unsteeped leaves, aside from cooking with matcha (finely powdered ceremonial green tea)?

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  1. When the Burmese make tea salads, they use leaves that have been soaked in cool, running water for days and days. It's delicious, by the way. But other than the occasional matcha-flavored sweet, I haven't heard much else about tea leaves as food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: condiment

      Does it taste like a seaweed salad, perhaps in texture?

    2. I was told to eat my green tea leaves for added health effect. Its the equivalent of having 2 oranges, the tea expert told me, when I was buying "long jeng" green tea.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jennjen18

        Interesting...I was hoping for some information like this -- unless it is too good to be true????

        1. re: liu

          Well, if you think about it ... the tea is just water that has diluted some of the flavour from tea leaves. The leaves will still have most of its nutrients in it, and if you think the tea itself is good, the tea leaves should have more than what the tea offers.

      2. Does decaf work as well? Otherwise, I think eating tea leaves would keep me awake for the next decade.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Glencora

          Yeah, I'm not so sure with other teas.. 'coz green teas have lots of nutrients and good stuff in it, so I was told the above. Just make sure what youre eating is good for you!

          1. re: Glencora

            well, I suppose it'd be the equivalent of eating the leaves after a good steeping or two--flushing is, after all, all that producers do to "decaffeinate" a product.

            So, probably yes, but I'd hazard a guess and say it wouldn't be as beneficial as drinking and eating normal leaves.

          2. Well, there are three issues possible when eating something "weird".

            1. Is it poisonous?
            2. Is it unchewable?
            3. Is it sharp/pointy?

            So, for example, you don't want to eat toadstools because of #1; you don't eat lime leaves, even sliced, because of #2; and you don't eat whole artichoke leaves principally because of #3.

            Tea leaves have none of these issues, and in point of fact anyone who's ever been to a Chinese restaurant has had tea leaves because some of them make it through the strainer.

            I don't know that I'd chow down on them, but maybe... or you could make like coca leaf, put it in the pocket of your mouth, and chaw.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              And HELLO, Das Ubergeek!

              I love your way of looking at this...so simple and so perfect! And I wonder if it could be "chawed" like tobacco?????

              Thanks for your great response! And I will keep your litmus test of poisonous?-unchewable?-pointy? in my pocket for my future Chowing adventures!

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                I eat very thinly-sliced lime leaves all the time in certain Thai dishes in restaurants and prepared at home as well. Am I missing something here?

                1. re: allegro805

                  Me too, so far I'm fine. But they're home grown and the tender newish ones. And I also eat the thin-sliced lemon grass, which isn't really chewable. They really can't be any worse than broccoli.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I eat lime leaves, sliced in things like Thai pork lettuce wraps. I don't eat them in soup, I fish them out like bay leaves, but I don't have a problem eating them in stirfrys and stuff....

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Ok help me.. I watched No Reservations more times than anybody should... and she has him smell the Kaffir lime leaves.. So I became obbssed with making that scallop saffron sauce... My dad bought me a Kaffir lime tree....it is small.. because I could never find kaffir lime leaves... ANNNNNNNYWAY How would you cook with lime leaves? do you use them like bay leaves?

                    1. re: girloftheworld

                      I use them in Thai curries. Add them when you add the vegetables. Example recipe:
                      http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/reci...

                      1. re: Scrofula

                        YUM!
                        With the addition of these tea leaves, you get some bulk, color, texture and fragrance. I would imagine that the flavor is lost with the other strong flavors in this dish.

                        Scrofula, what type of tea leaves do you use?

                        1. re: liu

                          I was responding to girloftheworld's question about kaffir lime leaves, not tea leaves. But now that you mention it, maybe green tea leaves would work in Thai curry.

                          1. re: Scrofula

                            The kaffir lime leaves are so integral to the Thai curry, so I would not substitute...but perhaps both! I might suggest a fragrant green tea, if any.

                            Scrofula, if you do try it, please report back!

                  2. You know I eat leaves, right, A?

                    I figure it'd be, if nothing else, akin to having another leafy green in my diet ^^

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: PseudoNerd

                      Howdy and Hi, PseudoNerd!

                      I hope you are serious, because my thinking runs along the same line. It just seems like they would be healthy. I love seaweed in all its permutations, so I equate tea leaves in this same category.

                      Soooo, J, how do you eat them...as a salad, with a little soy dressing or sesame oil, a little grated ginger and some sesame seeds, perhaps? I might then squeeze a fresh orange over the entire dish.

                      1. re: liu

                        Am I J? :)

                        I just eat the leaves just straight out when I'm done my tea, really. Eat them in its purist form to get the most nutrients out of it. But I've heard of Chinese dishes using tea leaves to make. I cant recall any off the top of my head, maybe the home cooking board can help you out on that one.

                        1. re: jennjen18

                          nah, I'm the abovementioned J ^^

                          I eat it the same way as jennjen does, without any additions, after finishing my tea.