Chagayu (Tea Gruel)
Chagayu (Tea Gruel) refers to the Japanese popular food for Yamato people since ancient times. Chagayu is a rice porridge which has long been the most familiar food for the people of Nara (Yamato). It is one of Nara Prefecture's delicacies. Chagayu is one of Nara's famous homemade meals; as the saying goes "Mornings in Nara starts with tea gruel." Now, Chagayu is used in a variety of cooking, such as Chagayu Kaiseki and Chagayu Bento. It is quite a simple dish, made of rice, water and tea, such as Hojicha or roast tea. As simple as it is, Chagayu is quite popular in Nara due to its refreshing flavor and the way it slips easily down the throat. The history of Chagayu begins very early, as is proven by documents concerning the menu for a traditional event called "Omizutori." Omizutori (formally called "Shunie") has been held annually for over 1,200 years without exception at the Nigatsudo hall of Todaiji Temple. For this event, Buddhist disciples lead a highly religious life in the hall over a month during the coldest season starting in mid-February. An old menu for this period includes "Gobo," rice water taken from Chagayu, and "Ageyu," the remaining after taking Gobo out of Chagayu. Chagayu is originally eaten at Buddhist temples. Rice is cooked with Bancha tea leaves. A popular local dish for breakfast. Chayagu is still available in some restaurants in Nara City in Nara Prefecture in Japan.