Seaweed is the collective name for large sea plants, almost all of which are algae. There are more than 200,000 species of algae. Many of these species are edible and used in the preparation of food. Most of the edible seaweeds belong to the green algae, red algae, and brown algae groups. Seaweed is an important ingredient in the cuisines of countries along the coasts of Asia and in the British Isles. The Japanese use seaweed as packaging and as an ingredient in salads and soups. In China, they are used as vegetables, and in other places they are puréed into a porridge and used as a binding agent. Most seaweeds have a savoury, rich, and salty flavour.