Matcha Zenzai 抹茶ぜんざい

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  • Matcha Zenzai is a delicious Japanese red bean paste with soft mochi served in green tea soup. This unique sweet can be enjoyed hot or cold.

    Matcha Zenzai in a glass.

    Zenzai ぜんざい (or Oshiruko お汁粉) is Azuki red bean soup, and this warm sweets is often enjoyed during cold winter.  Today I made the green tea version Matcha Zenzai 抹茶ぜんざい, which is also very popular in Japanese cafes and restaurants that serve sweets.

    Watch How To Make Matcha Zenzai 抹茶ぜんざいの作り方

    Delicious Japanese red bean paste with soft mochi or shiratama dango in an earthy and aromatic green tea soup, enjoy this fabulous sweet hot or cold.

    Enjoy Matcha Zenzai All Year Round

    As many of you know, I absolutely love anything with matcha.  What I like the best about this treat is that it can be enjoyed all year around.  Matcha Zensai can be served cold during the hot summer days or served hot in the cold winter months.

    It’s very quick to make too, if you suddenly have guests visiting and need to serve some snack or dessert.  It’s a perfect little treat for a tea time with your friends or after-dinner dessert for your family.

    Matcha Zenzai in a glass.

    What kind of Green Tea powder for Matcha Zenzai

    The traditional zenzai uses azuki red bean for the soup but this zenzai uses matcha (green tea powder) instead.  Therefore, the matcha you use should be culinary quality.  If you’re new to matcha or interested in which matcha brand I use, please read here.

    As this is a dessert recipe and not the traditional matcha drink, sugar is added to the soup.  You might already know that matcha can be bitter (well, it is bitter), so please adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe according to your liking.  Keep in mind the amount of sweetness will also depend on how sweet the anko is.

    Anko – Azuki Red Bean

    If you use store-bought anko, it’s quite sweet already.  I recommend to follow my recipe below exactly for your matcha soup.  Homemade anko does taste much better than store bought so if you have time, I hope you will try my Homemade Anko recipe.  It’s really delicious and definitely worth spending the extra effort.  If you’re purchasing anko, I recommend Ogura-an brand which has the perfect consistency for this dessert.

    Mochi or Shiratama Dango

    Zenzai usually includes toasted (plain) mochi or Shiratama Dango.  I personally enjoy eating the red bean soup with the little charred crispy mochi, but I know Japanese rice cakes (kiri mochi) can be hard to get in some countries.

    So for today’s recipe I used shiratama dango, or sweet rice dumplings, which are made of shiratamako (glutinous/sweet rice flour).  If you can can’t find shiratamako locally, substitute with mochiko which can be purchased from Amazon.  Remember to use Japanese brand of sweet rice flour as it’s made of short grain glutinous/sweet rice.

    Matcha Zenzai in glasses and tea pot on a wooden table.

    I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Thank you so much for reading, and till next time!

    Matcha Zenzai in glasses.

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    5 from 1 vote
    Matcha Zenzai | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    Matcha Zenzai
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    5 mins
    Total Time
    20 mins
    Matcha Zenzai is a delicious Japanese red bean paste with soft mochi served in green tea soup. This unique sweet can be enjoyed hot or cold.
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: green tea powder, mochi
    Servings: 2
    Author: Nami
    For 6 Shiratama Dango
    For Matcha Zenzai
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Matcha Zenzai Ingredients
    2. For shiratama dango, put ¼ cup shiratamako and ¼ tsp. sugar in a bowl and stir in 2 Tbps. warm water a little bit a time until the dough is combined and smooth. Take the dough out of the bowl and roll into a ball. The texture of the dough is like squeezing an "ear lobe" (that’s how we describe this particular tenderness in Japanese).
      Matcha Zenzai 1_w580
    3. Divide the dough into 6 pieces.
      Matcha Zenzai 2_w580
    4. Roll each piece into a ball and then press the center to flatten. With the center flattened, it helps shiratama dango cook faster. Continue with the rest of pieces.
      Matcha Zenzai 3_w580
    5. Cook the shiratama dango in boiling water. When shiratama dango is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes, they’ll starts to float. Pick them up and soak in ice water to cool.
      Matcha Zenzai 4_w580
    6. If you want to save time, instead of making shiratama dango, you can use kiri mochi (pre-cut rice cake). Cut into 4 small pieces and toast in the toaster oven until puffed up.
      Matcha Zenzai 5
    7. For Matcha Zenzai, put 1- 1½ Tbsp. sugar in a medium bowl and sift 1 Tbsp. matcha power in a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
      Matcha Zenzai 6_w580
    8. Add a little bit of hot water and mix with a whisk (I used a bamboo whisk) until well combined.
      Matcha Zenzai 7_w580
    9. Add the rest of hot water and mix well.
      Matcha Zenzai 8_w580
    10. Place sweet red bean paste (anko) and shiratama dango in the serving bowls.
      Matcha Zenzai 9_w580
    11. Pour the green tea and garnish with a little bit of anko.
      Matcha Zenzai 10
    Recipe Notes

    Please adjust the amount of sugar for matcha (green tea). If you use store-bought anko (red bean paste), which tends to be very sweet, you might want to reduce the amount of sugar for your matcha to balance out the sweetness.

    For anko (red bean paste), use coarse tsubu-an or ogura-an instead of koshi-an. Both tsubu-an and ogura-an have some azuki bean skin in the paste and it gives nice textures.

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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