How to Find, Choose, & Use

Pea Sprouts
& Tips

Pisum sativum var. saccharatum
Pea sprouts (young, tender pea microgreens) in a large bowl

Pea sprouts - young, tender pea microgreens grown from a seed.

Peat tips (tender new-growth leaves, stems, & tendrils from pea plants) on a metal background with snow pea pods

Pea tips (and snow pea pods) - tender new-growth leaves, stems, & tendrils from pea plants.

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The Basics

  • What Are They?

    Pea Tips are the tender young leaves & stems from the ends of snow pea branches.
    Pea Sprouts are a sprout or microgreen composed of the whole young plant (including stalk and leaves) grown from newly sprouted peas.

  • Seasonality

    Available YEAR-ROUND (especially the sprouts), but best in cool seasons (particular late winter/early spring).

  • Flavour Profile

    Green/Sweet/Bitter; generally mild with a slight mustard-green flavour

  • Other Names

    English: Pea shoots, pea greens, pea leaves, pea tendrils
    Chinese: 豌豆芽 – wāndòu yá (sprouts), 豌豆苗 – wāndòu miáo (sprouts or tips) (Mandarin)


Pea Tip & Pea Shoot FAQs

Are pea tips and pea sprouts the same?

No, but they can be used in similar ways.  Pea tips are the tender young leaves and stems growing at the ends of the branches of more mature pea plants.  Pea shoots are sprouts or microgreens (i.e. very young plants in their entirety) grown from pea seeds and harvested when a 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long.

Are pea sprouts and pea shoots the same?

It depends on how 'pea shoot' is being use.  The term is a bit of a confusing, and seems to be applied a little haphazardly to both foods discussed here.  Fortunately it's easy to tell which one you're really dealing with based on appearance.  If you're looking at a young, tender green plant with a straight stem and two small leaves, it's a pea sprout.  If it's a small leafy bundle on a relatively thick stem that's been clipped off a larger plant, it's a pea tip.  Both get called pea shoots, though I think the term is used a little more often to describe pea sprouts.

Can you eat pea flowers?

Yes - any flowers that might show up in your pea tips are edible.  They make a nice addition to salads, etc.  If you're harvesting your own pea tips and flowers, it's very important to note that the leaves, pods, and flowers of the true pea (Pisum sativum), and NOT the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus).  Sweet peas are NOT edible!

How-To

  • Find

    Asian grocery stores are your best bet for both, though pea sprouts are often found at well-stocked grocery stores and health stores.

  • Choose

    Pea Tips: smaller and thinner = sweeter and more tender. This is one of those vegetables where more is not always best; larger tips and stems are very fibrous and do not cook up as well. Avoid overly wilted or droopy leaves and soggy looking stems.
    Pea Shoots: simply ensure that they look fresh and vibrant, without signs of wilting or yellowing.

  • Prep

    Difficulty: Low – Gently wash the greens and remove any damaged/wilted leaves. You may want to remove any particularly thick or tough stems or long tendrils from pea tips, but sprouts should require little or no picking over.

  • Use

    Pea tips and pea shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. Pea tips are more commonly cooked, while the sprouts are more commonly eaten raw.

  • Store

    Short Term: Refrigerate (unwashed, 2-4 days in a breathable plastic bag in the crisper)
    Long Term: Not generally recommended, though pea tips can be blanched in boiling water for ~ 1 minute, drained and rinsed with cold water, then frozen.

Culinary Info

  • Flavour Profile

    Mild/Sweet/Green – Pea-like, with a green, grassy flavour a pleasant sweetness. Sprouts are a bit milder and sweeter than tips, with a less-pronounced ‘green’ flavour.

  • Substitutions

    Pea sprouts and pea tips are relatively interchangeable with one another, but not many other foods can substitute for them because of their distinct pea-like flavour. Cooked spinach is fairly similar to cooked pea tips from a texture standpoint, but lacks the unique pea-like flavour.

  • Cuisines

    Most commonly found in East Asian (and especially Chinese) cooking, pea tips and sprouts are nonetheless a welcome and easy addition to a wide variety of cuisines.

  • Flavour Pairings

    The sweet, distinct, and mild flavour of pea tips and sprouts is generally best when allowed to stand alone or with relatively minimal accompaniment. Garlic, ginger, sesame, and honey all make excellent accompaniments, though they’re all best used in moderation.

  • Varieties

    There isn’t much variation in commercial pea tips or sprouts, but it’s worth noting that pea tips can be harvested from any variety of garden pea (but NOT sweet peas). Most consider pea tips from snow pea plants to be superior, but it’s worth making use of any pea tips you can grow yourself, regardless of the variety.

More Info

  • Nutrition

    Nutrition Facts
    Snow Pea Tips - 100 g (3.5 oz)
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 18 Calories from Fat 9
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 1g2%
    Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
    Sodium 0.02mg0%
    Carbohydrates 0.2g0%
    Fiber 2g8%
    Protein 0.2g0%
    Vitamin A 2550IU51%
    Vitamin C 94.9mg115%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    Exceptionally high in Vitamins A and C and very low in carbohydrates.

  • Top-To-Tail

    Young pods and mature peas are, of course, also eaten. Click here to learn more about using snow pea pods. Pea flowers are also edible, but make sure you’re eating true pea (Pisum sativum) and not sweet pea (see Top-to-Tail note below for more information)

  • GMO Status

    There are no GM or gene-edited snow peas in the human food supply.

  • Health & Science

    – Exceptionally healthy and and nutrient-dense
    – Peas and their relatives are extremely commonly used a variety of agricultural settings for their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Bacterial associations with pea plant roots draw nitrogen from the air and convert it to a source that can be used by plants. This valuable ability can ‘recharge’ the nitrogen content of soil, thereby reducing the demand for fertilizers

  • Organic vs. Conventional

    Both organic and conventionally grown pea sprouts are fairly common, though organic pea tips are harder to come by. Conventionally grown snow and snap pea pods have been flagged by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for having fairly high pesticide residues.

Pea Tip & Shoot Recipes

Honey-Ginger Pea Tips

Honey-Ginger Pea Tips

How to Stir-Fry Chinese Greens

Universal Chinese Greens Part 1 - How to Stir-Fry

How To Braise Chinese Greens

Universal Chinese Greens Part 2 - How to Braise

How to Blanch and Dress Chinese Greens

Universal Chinese Greens Part 3 - How to Blanch and Dress

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