Kukicha is a special type of Japanese tea that is made from the stems, stems, and twigs of the tea plant. It is sometimes called winter tea and is traditionally harvested and processed in the fall. In Japan, tea is a popular drink during the winter and is also added to juices and other beverages, as it has a distinctive flavor that some consumers find enjoyable. Asian markets and health food stores sometimes carry kukicha, and it can also be ordered directly from tea importers.
Kukicha is a popular winter drink in Japan.
To make kukicha, the Camellia sinensis plant is pruned after the last harvest in the fall, when the plant’s caffeine content is extremely low. Like green tea, kukicha is steamed as soon as it is picked, to soften the plant and stimulate a specific type of fermentation. Steamed plant material is allowed to age and dry, and is roasted before being sent to market. It can also be mixed with other ingredients, depending on consumer demand.
Some versions of kukicha are sweetened with honey.
The flavor of kukicha is quite unique. It reminds some consumers of Rooibos, as it has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor, but kukicha also has nuances of cream. Roasting creates a light and refreshing flavor that is also reminiscent of forests or gardens. When properly brewed, kukicha is a very warm yet refreshing beverage that is rich in antioxidants and low in caffeine.
Some companies call kukicha “stem and twig tea,” referring to the main ingredients. Tea is closely associated with the macrobiotic diet, especially in the West. The roasted flavor is said to complement a diet rich in whole grains and fresh vegetables, and many vegans and vegetarians also enjoy kukicha for this reason. It can also be used to sweeten and flavor juices, and can also be found cold as iced tea in some parts of Japan.
To prepare kukicha correctly, water slightly below boiling temperature should be used, to avoid burning the leaves. One way to achieve this is to bring the tea water to a boil and pour a small amount into a kettle to heat it. After the warm water has been mixed in the brew pot and poured in, the water in the kettle is usually around the optimum temperature. The tea should not steep for more than three minutes, as it can become bitter and astringent, like overpowered green tea. Kukicha can be consumed plain or flavored with ingredients such as rice milk and honey.