Can Green Tea be used to brine meat?


Corned Beef cured with green tea

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with DIY corned beef this year. We added green tea to the brine solution to cure the beef. We got the recipe from Lynne Curry’s whole food blog: “Forage ~whole food, well made”.  I adore her blog not just becaue she is our local friend, but also her website is insightful and inspiring, not to mention it’s one of the best sources of good recipes.  In fact, her blog was awarded “Top 50 Whole Foods blogs”. I’m always excited when I receive Lynne’s new article in my email.


So, back to corned beef.  We have never cured meat on our own before.  My first motivation to cure our own meat is so I can use locally sourced “natural” beef. As a green tea fanatic and explorer, I thought I would use green tea. I use “matcha salt” to season BBQ meat and steaks.  I thought “why not green tea for corned beef.”  Besides, the ‘green combo’ sounded like a good match for a celebration of the Emerald Isle.


I thought about which green tea I should use. My specialty is Japanese green tea, and Japanese green tea has many different types. Each type has its own character.  I decided to use “Kukicha” green tea instead of bay leaf in the recipe for two reasons:

 1. Kukicha is pronounced “koo-key-cha”, and “Kuki” means stems.  As it suggests, the tea is made with stems of green tea bush (Camellia sinensis).  Stems contain less bitter substances, so 

 2. Kukicha is known as “a sweeter and lower caffeine option of green tea”.

The curing process takes 4 to 5 days. As Kukicha uses stems, Kukicha keeps the solution clean, but the Umami of green tea is there.  Umami is pronounced “ooh-ma-mee”, and it is meaty savory flavor.  Green tea is one of the Umami rich foods.

This is how the meat looked soaking in the green tea bath.

green tea with spices curing beef

On St. Patrick’s Day, I followed the recipe and cooked the meat.  The meat was tender, flavorful, and delicious!!

green tea corned beef

In the recipe, I used 1 Tbsp. Kukicha as a replacement for Bay Leaf. We savored the best corned beef ever–“grass-fed beef cured with green tea for green day.” Somehow the cabbage, carrots, and sliced red potatoes I cooked with our special green tea cured corned beef tasted much better too.


Now that we know how delicious and easy it is, we know we will be making this again–soon. Won’t wait for next St. Patrick’s Day! Here is Lynne’s recipe I used with “green tea modification”. Always use fresh, good quality Kukicha for the best result.


How to Cure Your Own Corned Beef (with Green Tea)

Modified from “Lynne Curry’s whole food blog: “Forage ~whole food, well made




½ cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon pink salt (sodium nitrite) optional

¼ cup brown sugar

3 whole garlic cloves

2 tablespoons pickling spice

1 Tabsp. Karigane (kukicha) leaves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

1 3½ to 4 pound bottom round roast or sirloin tip roast, chuck roast or brisket

2 medium onions peeled and quartered

4 medium carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch-long rounds



 1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Remove it from the heat, add the kosher salt, pink salt (if using) and sugar, and stir until they dissolve. Pour the salt mixture into a 4-quart or larger glass, ceramic, or plastic container.

 2. Add 4 cups ice-cold water along with the garlic, pickling spices, Karigane (Kukicha), black pepper and cinnamon stick. Add 1 cup ice cubes and stir to chill the brine rapidly or put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

 3. Pierce the beef all over with a wooden skewer to help the brine penetrate, submerge the beef into the brine, and refrigerate for 4 to 5 days.

 4. Drain the beef along with the garlic and spices in a large strainer and rinse it briefly in cool running water, reserving the garlic and spices. Discard the brine. Put the beef in a pot that fits it snuggly and fill the pot with cool water to cover the beef by 1 inch. Add the reserved garlic and spices.

 5. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat then reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently, partially covered. After about 2½ hours, add the onions and carrots, and continue to simmer until a skewer slides in and out of the beef with ease, 3 to 3½ hours total.

 6. Serve the corned beef warm in thick slices moistened with some of the cooking liquid and with the vegetables on the side. To store, transfer the corned beef into a container, add enough cooking liquid to cover it, and refrigerate it for up to 4 days.


Find our Kukicha here.

Find different types of green tea here.

Find green tea pairing chart here.

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Meet the Author:  Kiyomi