Nuchigafu: Afternoon Bukubuku tea set

Another bukubuku-cha post! Sorry, I cannot help myself, I love tea culture.

So one afternoon I set out on a mission, and asked if my husband would join me. We headed for the Tsuboya yachimun (pottery) district of Naha. Specifically to the popular Ryukyu-style restaurant, Nuchigafu ぬちがふう(命果報).

This place gained much popularity after the Jimami Tofu movie came out; the owner collaborated with the movie showing and prepared a special lunch set that included all the foods that were found in the movie. Many of my friends raved about it (I forgo due to the copious amounts of pork in most Okinawan cuisine). However, recently, they started offering an afternoon tea set with bukubuku cha, so… of course I most check it out.

The restaurant is located off a quiet back street, but it is easy to find. The architecture is beautiful, and one of the resident cats greeted us. The atmosphere inside is quite nice and relaxing. We ordered one “simple tea set” which included 8 treats (savory and sweet), 3 traditional cookies, and bukubuku tea, and one bukubuku tea set (which comes with 3 traditional cookies). The bukubuku cha was prepared at the table so you could watch the magic happen. Everything on the plate was delicious of course. Overall I highly recommend this place for an afternoon stopover while you are visited the pottery district!



Bukubuku-cha, at home

ぶくぶく茶 bukubuku-cha: “buku buku” tea, a type of Ryukyuan foamy tea using genmai-cha 玄米茶 (toasted rice tea) and sanpin-cha さんぴん茶 (jasmine tea). I wrote about bukubuku-cha and some of the cafes where you can experience this in Okinawa here.

Today, I decided to try to make it at home, using a little packet I purchased on Kokusai-dori. It actually turned out great! What a nice omiyage (souvenir) this would make for a tea lover.


Well, when I opened it up, there were several individual little packets (green tea, sanpin tea, roasted rice, and crushed peanuts) inside, as well as a list of instructions… so I got together the things I needed: 500 mL hard water (mineral water, purchased at SanA), a whisk (or 3 chopsticks works, too), and some bowls/teacups.

Step 1 & 2: take the 500 mL of hard water and boil, add in the roasted rice, and let simmer (~medium heat) for 10-15 minutes).


Step 3: Steep the sanpin tea and green tea in 500 mL of regular hot water (nearly boiling, we have a Japanese electric water kettle). As far as time, use the strength you prefer (probably ~ 3-5 minutes).


Step 4: In a bowl, add 200 mL of the sanpin tea/green tea mixture and 100 mL of the roasted rice/hard water mixture.

Step 5: Using your bamboo whisk (or chopsticks), whisk to make foamy bubbles. As you make more bubbles, you can scoop them up and set them aside in another bowl if you desire.


Step 6: In a teacup add some of just the sanpin tea/green tea mixture from Step 3. Add just a TINY amount of the roasted rice/hard water mixture.

Step 7: Add your foam on top of the tea in the teacups and top with the crushed peanuts. Now time to enjoy… I served it with the chiirunkou I purchased yesterday. Yum, a regular Ryukyuan tea party. This package is supposedly “individual” serving, but it was just enough for my husband and I to each enjoy a cup.

**The only thing in the packages were 1) green tea (sencha 煎茶), 2) jasmine tea, 3) roasted rice (煎り米 irigome, or sometimes known as genmai 玄米 and though this can also mean brown rice, here the meaning can also be roasted rice), and 4) crushed peanuts, so if you can get these plus mineral water you can make this yourself at home by following the above instructions.

Bukubuku-cha: ぶくぶく茶

Bukubuku cha ぶくぶく茶 is a type of tea in Okinawa that is frothed. You use a bamboo whisk and froth the tea, creating foamy bubbles.

At this particular location, for the tea, I chose the traditional sanpin-cha さんぴん茶 (Jasmine tea) as the base, but there are several other flavors you can try at Kariisanfan in Shuri (I have tried ucchin/turmeric and hibiscus flavors previously as well). The tea for foaming is typically jasmine tea roasted with rice, making it a type of genmai-cha 玄米茶, one of the secrets to its foamy-ness. In addition, the minerals in the hard water found in the southern part of Okinawa help make it foam.

The set came with various little snacks, some traditional Ryukyu sweets (such as kunpen and chinsuko), some just general Japanese sweets. It is sort of the Okinawan equivalent to mainland Japan tea ceremony, as it was used during the Ryukyu era to entertain accredited Chinese envoys when they visited. This set also came with brown sugar and crushed island peanuts to sprinkle on top.

There are a few locations to experience a nice tea set, which usually comes with some traditional cookies as well. Some places you whisk/froth your own and others it is brought out to you all ready to go. There is even one place where they will dress you in kimono/yukata and have a small tea ceremony (again, another place located in Shuri area); I have not tried this place yet though it looks like a really nice experience.

The culture center on Kokusai-dori also offers it at certain times, so stop by there and check their schedule.

You can even buy a little (but expensive… 400yen for just 1 serving!) package at some omiyage shops on Kokusai-dori. It works! You need to make sure to use “hard water” such as mineral water. Read about how to make bukubuku-cha at home here; there is a “recipe” attached so you can skip buying the package and just collect the materials yourself, or if you purchase the package but do not read Japanese, you can follow my translated instructions. For a tea-lover, this is a must!


Some other places offer it on the menu, but not very many come with  nice set like this. Some will even make it with a coffee base.

Uchinaa chaya Bukubukuうちなー茶屋ぶくぶく: Tsuboya yachimun (pottery) street, they make it for you.

Kariisanfan 嘉例山房: near Shuri-jo, you whisk it yourself for the full experience.

Cafe Okinawa Shiki カフェ沖縄式: near Naminoue Shrine, serves bukubuku coffee.

Nuchigafu 琉球料理ぬちがふう(命果報): Along Tsuboya district’s Yachimun Street.

During the Nanmin festival at Naminoue Shrine in May, you can try FREE bukubuku-cha made by some expert ladies!