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Roasted Black Soybean Tea

Reviewed by Elliot Essman

If a product comes to me from Japan, I may not wolf it down, but I always investigate it with a thorough interest. DHC Fine Foods recently sent me their Roasted Black Soybean Tea, a product I could never have imagined existed. DHC markets its Kuromame Cha in a resealable bag which in turn contains ten single-serving packets of black soybeans, each enough for a cup of the brew. You steep the beans, drink the resulting infusion, then chew on the now-softened black soybeans. They are crunchy and nutty and just the right snack to complement the beverage. The package suggests throwing a packet of the beans into the water you use for cooking rice. I haven't tried this yet, but I have used the brewed infusion, with the softened beans, in a braised tofu dish I whipped together, with excellent results. (I'm always looking for ways to add a "roasted" taste to foods without actually roasting anything.)

Of course, black soybeans have the advantage of being—how can I put this gracefully—good for you. According to DHC, “Anthocyanin, the pigment contained in the skin of black soybeans, is a beneficial polyphenol with strong antioxidant capabilities.” I wouldn't really need this assurance, since this infusion tastes healthy, in a yummy, stomach-soothing way. I drink a number of herbal infusions on a regular basis, and I welcome this unusual product for the variety it provides. The cooking and flavoring possibilities are an excellent plus.

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