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Kukicha, or twig tea, is a blend of stems, stalks, and twigs, which are carefully removed during the production of Gyokuro, Sencha or Matcha tea. The resulting tea is finely flavoured and one we find delightful.
Kukicha can also be called Bocha and more commonly twig tea. It is mainly available in the form of a green tea however Kukicha is made using stems, stalks and twigs which are usually excluded from the processing of any other teas. Due to this, Kukicha is naturally very low in caffeine and should be brewed in water that is between 70 and 80 degrees centigrade. It can be brewed more than once. We have seen Kukicha infused three or four times but the duration of infusion needs to be varied. Ideally the first infusion would be for 40 seconds, the second would be infused for 15 seconds and the third would be 30 seconds. In Japan it is also popular added to juice in order to make a drink for children.
Kukicha is a very healthy drink. It contains copper, selenium, manganese, calcium, zinc, fluoride and vitamins A, C and B complex. Some people have even claimed that twig tea contains more calcium than cow’s milk. To keep the tea as naturally low in caffeine as possible, growers only select older twigs and often harvest from the autumn and winter growing seasons.
Kukicha brews with a yellow-green liquor which can be likened to a glass of white wine. The infusion itself has a notably sweet aroma but without the vegetal notes of many other Japanese green teas. It has a delightful fresh flavour with a very gentle astringency and is delicious served either warm or iced.
The first time I tried this tea, I was really struck by it, indeed I took the sample home and experimented with it at the dinner table with it in place of wine (this is a most uncommon practice for me….) Kukicha complements many foods and I’ve found it just as delicious with roast chicken as I have with sushi.
Brewing Hints: Brew in water at 90 degrees for 60 - 90 seconds
Leaf: Dark green leaves with straw coloured stalks.
Origin: Shizuoka, Japan
Characteristics: A pale, yellowy-green liquor with a clean, sweet flavour.
Serving Suggestions: You could try serving this tea instead of wine at mealtimes!