- Main lore areas
All over the prefecture
- Main ingredients used
Rice, Bancha (green tea) or Hojicha (roasted green tea)
- History/origin/related events
In Wakayama Prefecture, chagayu is affectionately called "okai-san" or "okayu-san. It was created to fill the stomach even with a small amount of rice because rice was precious in this mountainous prefecture, which is also known as "tree country. Especially in the southern part of the prefecture, where there is little flat land suitable for rice cultivation, it was a daily staple food, eaten five or six times a day. In the past, tea trees were also grown at home, supporting the establishment of the chagayu culture. In a song sung in the Inan area, "Today and today, oika de kenka, watashi no oika ni taro ga nai," which indicates that chagayu with sweet potatoes was so popular that siblings would fight over it.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
In the Kumano Mountains and other areas where there is little rice cultivation, oikai-san is ideal for thirsty and hungry people after farming rice, as it is light and smooth to the taste. During busy seasons, a large amount of rice is cooked in a cauldron. Since "okaisan" makes you hungry soon after eating, sweet potatoes and taro were added to the rice to fill up the stomach.
- How to eat
Boil a quantity of water in a pot, put Bancha in a tea bag, and boil it to a good color. Remove the tea bag, add washed rice, and cook over high heat. Stir with a wooden scoop. When the rice is fluffy, turn off the heat. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Each region and household has its own way of cooking tea and chagayu, and the one with nothing in it is called "bozu-chagayu. In the northern and central regions of the prefecture, "mame-cha-gayu" is made with fava beans and peas, and in the southern region of the prefecture, "mukago-gayu" is sometimes made with the stems of yams in the fall, which are called mukago. Other variations include "yakimochi gayu," which is topped with Nanko-ume pickled plums and Kinzanji miso (soybean paste), "yakimochi gayu" with baked rice cakes, and "dango gayu" with rice flour, wheat flour, or millet flour kneaded into a dango.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Tea packets for chagayu are sold at supermarkets in the prefecture. It is so familiar in daily life that some young people even eat it over cold white rice or chirashi sushi.