Updated: Aug 26
Quality tea leaves can be steep multiple times. They can also be eaten, some more than others.
After steeping them several times and enjoying their delicious "soup" (used to describe the steeps), I will often steep any kind of tea leaves one last time, and for several hours at room temperature. The result is a beautiful, though light yellow, green, or golden liquid, that I use to cook rice, or enhance soup stock, for example.
Often times, I will garnish my rice with all sorts of toppings like toasted sesame seeds, freshly chopped cilantro or mint, for example. Similarly, I will use delicate young tea leaves (white buds or small green ones) to garnish a bowl of plain rice. Sometimes I'll stir-fry noodles and toss in young tea leaves at the end just before serving.
During the colder months of the year when soup season is here, I'll toss freshly julienned ginger with tea leaves, and use the mixture to garnish a big bowl of piping hot congee. This is my no-waste approach to cooking and living; but more than that, tea leaves are pretty to look and can be tasty too, adding a subtle flavor and texture to your dish.