A traditional Japanese green tea made of the twigs, stems and stalks of the tea plant, kukicha twig tea was originally known as “peasant’s drink” because the farmer’s drank it after selling the leaves as a cash crop. It is also called “winter tea” since some twigs and old leaves come from the tea plants which are pruned during the dormant season. Kukicha twig tea was popularized in the U.S. and Europe during the 1960’s by George Ohsawa, the founder of macrobiotics. It was considered a perfect complementary beverage for a vegetarian diet and is still one of the most popular teas sold in natural food stores.
Kukicha twig tea results from the processing of four different clippings of small twigs, stems and stalks of the tea plants whose fresh leaves go to produce Gyokuro and high grade Sencha. The first clipping is from three year old plants trimmed in autumn. The second clippings are thicker twigs harvested every 10 years, usually in mid-winter. The third and fourth clippings are done yearly in March and June when pruning to stimulate the growth of fresh green shoots. The pruning of the leaves and twigs at four different time periods ensures a mix that blends perfectly to produce its exotic and unique flavor. After harvesting, the twigs are steamed to soften them and then placed outside in the sun to dry. Next, they are aged for 2 to 3 years in brown paper sacks in order to fully develop their flavor. After aging, the twigs undergo four separate roastings in wood fired, iron cauldrons. This patient and ceremonious roasting slowly develops the rich roasted flavor and aroma that has made this tea so popular.
With a unique soothing and balancing flavor which is nutty and slightly creamy, kukicha twig tea is the lowest in caffeine of the traditional teas and is safe for children. This is true because the caffeine is concentrated in the leaves not the twigs of the tea plant. It also has the peculiar ability to neutralize both acids and alkalines in food plus is a powerful anti-oxidant Kukicha twig tea is great served hot or iced, may be served with lemon and is an ideal finish to a meal. It also is perfect for blending with other teas for an interesting twist or juice, especially apple juice, to make an excellent drink for children. Kukicha twig tea is easy to prepare, but remember since it is made from twigs instead of leaves, it needs to be added to boiling water and simmered over low heat for 2-3 minutes, then strain and enjoy!!
TEA TIME TIDBITS
There are more than 3,000 varieties of tea
available throughout the world.
Like fine wine, there are enough teas
to please any connoisseur.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”