Rice Seasoning (Furikake) in a bowl
Recipes | | C. Yu

Recipe: How To Make Rice Seasoning (Furikake) With Used Green Tea Leaves

Do you sometimes crave an extra something to compliment a plain bowl of rice? In this case, try Furikake tea leaves rice seasoning! Our recipe below offers a creative and healthy way for you to turn your spent tea leaves into a delicious condiment for your next Japanese inspired meal.

What is Furikake?

Furikake” is Japanese rice seasoning, a versatile condiment that is commonly used on rice bowls or in rice balls. Typically, Furikake consists of nori (dried seaweed), salt, dried fish, and toasted sesame seeds. As an all-purpose seasoning, Furikake can be used on any food as you please, including seafood and vegetables.  


Close view of Rice Seasoning Furikake tea leaves in a bowl

History of Furikake

The idea of Furikake was something that had existed in Japan 12 to 13 centuries ago, where Japanese people had created a version of Furikake using dried fish flakes.

Later on in the Taisho period (1921-1926), a pharmacist invented the modern version of Furikake out of concern for the lack of calcium in the Japanese diet. So not only was Furikake made as a seasoning but it was also made to support general health and nutrition in Japan. If you go to your everyday Asian market, you may find a premade version on the shelves, often in a variety of flavor offerings.

But did you know that you can easily make Furikake by repurposing your used green tea leaves? The green tea leaves enhance the umami flavor of Furikake while providing additional health benefits.

Upcycle your used Gyokuro, Sencha or Genmaicha leaves to make your Furikake. We recommend using higher quality tea green tea such as Sencha or Gyokuro because it will give you maximum umami flavor and an energy boost!


Mottainai” Culture

In Japan, you may hear the phrase “Mottainai!” which translates to “What a waste!” Japanese environmentalists have used this phrase to loosely express the regret of being wasteful, paired with the appreciation for the gifts of nature. The eco-friendly philosophy of protecting what we have, using something to the end of its life, and continuously repurposing is typical throughout Japanese culture and can be seen as a trait in many Japanese people. In the spirit of “Mottainai” culture, follow our Furikake recipe below to make homemade Furikake by repurposing used green tea leaves!  

onigiri Japanese rice balls with Senbird organic Japanese green tea


Green Tea Furikake (Rice Seasoning) Recipe

You Will Need:

Additional Toppings:

  • Dried fish (Recommended: Bonito flakes, Chirimenjako)
  • Dried shrimp (Recommended: Sakuraebi)
  • Kombu powder  
  • Dashi powder
  • Shiso leaf

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat up a non-stick frying pan on low heat, and toss in your used green tea leaves. Toast on low heat until all the moisture has left the leaves and the leaves become crispy, but not burnt. Remove and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the tea leaves into a powder. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle or would prefer your leaves in larger pieces, you can opt for a simple knife and cutting board for this part as well.
  3. Using the same pan from before, toast the sesame seeds on high heat. Constantly shake the pan. Once there is a toasty fragrance, remove the sesame seeds and transfer them into a bowl to prevent them from burning and let them cool.
  4. Crumble your nori into a larger bowl and add your toasted sesame seeds, green tea leaves, as well as any additional toppings. Season your mixture with salt and mix thoroughly. Remember to store your Furikake in an airtight container!

Sobacha Furikake

As an alternative, you can also use used Sobacha grains, or buckwheat tea for your Furikake following the same steps as the recipe above. Toast the Sobacha grains in a light coating of sesame oil and toss them into your Furikake mixture for a different flavor and texture! 

How You Can Use Furikake Seasoning

Furikake is a versatile seasoning, much like the trending Everything But the Bagel Seasoning! Try it on noodles, pasta, eggs, avocado, toast, and popcorn. Get creative and try it on anything you desire.


🍵 Did you make this recipe? Snap a pic and tag us on Instagram at @senbirdtea or #senbirdtea. We’d love to see your creation!   

If you want to read more articles on green tea guides and recipes check them out here:


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