Green Tea Broth with Udon Noodles

In Japan, one often eats udon noodles with the liquid they were cooked in, to enjoy both the flavor and the nutrition left behind by the noodles. Sometimes the starting point is water, sometimes stock or broth (often, vegetables are cooked in the broth before the noodles are added, so it becomes even tastier), and sometimes the starting “broth” is green tea. With its somewhat savory taste, the resulting soup is elegant in both simplicity and speed.–Mark Bittman

LC Exactly Your Choice of Embellishment Note

Mark Bittman shares some common and not-so-common additions to green tea broth with udon noodles. Some of these are garnishes to serve over the noodles, he explains, while others are cooked in the broth to give it more character. And some can go either way. Suit yourself so you can get exactly your choice of embellishment:

1 cup finely chopped tomato, added to the broth as it simmers

A pinch or two of cayenne or other ground chile, added to the broth as it simmers

1/2 cup cubed tofu, added to the broth when the udon noodles are nearly finished cooking

1 cup precooked small beans, like soybeans, adzuki, edamame, or mung, added to the broth when the udon noodles are nearly finished cooking

4 scrambled eggs, added to the broth when the udon noodles are nearly finished cooking

1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger, added to the broth as it simmers

2 sheets nori, lightly toasted and cut into 1-inch strips, for garnish

1 tablespoon white or black sesame seeds, used as a garnish

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds for garnish

2 tablespoons nuts, like pistachios, cashews, or hazelnuts, toasted and used as a garnish

A dab of wasabi paste for garnish

A thinly sliced onion, added to the broth as it simmers or as a garnish

A handful of julienned cucumber, added to the broth as it simmers or as a garnish

A cup or two of shredded lettuce or cabbage, added to the broth as it simmers or as a garnish

1 cup mung bean sprouts, added to the broth as it simmers or used as a garnish

2 tablespoons candied ginger (omit the mirin or sugar), added to the broth as it simmers or as a garnish

Green Tea Broth with Udon Noodles Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 4 first-course or 2 lunch servings


  • 1/4 cup green tea leaves
  • Salt
  • 8 ounces udon noodles
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mirin or sugar (optional)


  • 1. Put 7 cups water in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let rest for a couple minutes. Stir in the tea leaves (or use a tea ball, cheesecloth, or some other mesh contraption), cover, and steep until fragrant and richly colored, 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the “tea broth” through a strainer and put the tea in a large saucepan. Discard the tea leaves.
  • 2. Bring the tea broth to a boil and sprinkle with salt. Stir in the udon. When the broth returns to a boil, add 2 cups of cold water. When the liquid returns to a boil, turn the heat down so that it bubbles gently without overflowing. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just tender, usually 5 to 7 minutes, but it could be more depending upon the brand you use. Taste and add more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the mirin or sugar, if you like, and serve.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Robert McCune

Feb 07, 2007

Mark Bittman does it again and proves that less can be more. I kept this fairly simple, adding only ginger, garlic, cayenne, and scallions to the basic recipe. The result is a creamy-looking, very flavorful broth with a taste almost like miso soup. This dish can be put together at the last minute and depending what you have on hand, can be a simple first course or a full meal. Perfect for a snowy or foggy day. The ultimate comfort food.

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