Kukicha tea is a green tea from Japan made from both the leaves and twigs of the tea plant. It is a slightly sweet tea with a hint of chestnut flavor. As land in Japan is very scarce, Japanese farmers need to be able to extract as much value as possible from their crops. In order to make each tea bush more profitable, twigs are harvested from the plants as well as the leaves. Although kukicha tea was invented for economical purposes, many people believe that it is both delicious and rich in health benefits.
Much like green tea, kukicha tea, which is also sometimes called "winter tea" or "bancha twig tea," has many health benefits. In general, the tea is believed to help improve and stabilize overall health and improve one's longevity. More specifically, the tea is used to help balance the acidity levels in the body, therefore helping to prevent diseases. It is believed to help stave off cardiovascular diseases, improve bladder and kidney function, boost the immune system, and help to prevent problems with the joints and bones. While no research has been completed to prove these claims, they are widely held by many experts in natural remedies.
This kind of tea is also full of vitamins and nutrients. A cup of kukicha tea is a good source of zinc, selenium, copper, fluoride, manganese, and calcium. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins, as well as being a great source of anti-oxidants. Unlike other teas, including green teas, there is very little caffeine in this beverage.
In Japan, many people still think of kukicha tea as a drink for peasants and poor people. This is because the tea was often consumed by farmers who sold the more premium teas, made mostly of leaves, and kept the tea made with twigs for themselves. This is not true in the West, where this kind of tea has been embraced for its health benefits and unique flavor. Its popularity has to do, in part, with the macrobiotic food movement. Kukicha tea is one of the recommended drinks in the macrobiotic diet.
Kukicha tea should be brewed in the same manner as green tea. This means that the tea should be brewed with hot water, not boiling water, and that it should be allowed to steep for two to three minutes before it is consumed. With such a low caffeine content, this kind of tea can be enjoyed all day long, even in the evenings.