Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kukicha and health

I've never been big on the whole 'New Year's Resolution' thing, since it only seems to stick for a few months, if not weeks. But if you are trying to be healthier in the coming year, why not drink more tea? 

The health benefits of tea have been touted for hundreds of years, and the topic has seem to become more popular in Western society in the last 20 years or so.  All teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant contain antioxidants, and if you pick up any bottled tea these days (even if it is sweetened with artificial sweeteners), you will notice that the manufacturer is proud of their tea's healthy benefits.

I have recently started drinking Kukicha, which is Japanese twig tea.  I always assumed this tea was difficult to find, but then I noticed PC drinking some in the office. Turns out he found it at our local health food store and it is manufactured by Choice Organic Teas. 

Twig tea is Japanese Kukicha tea.  Kukicha is a traditional tea made from collecting the stems and twigs of the tea plant, and not the leaves.  These are then aged and roasted. This tea is very low in caffeine since it does not use any tea leaves! Kukicha was originally made as a peasant drink, because the tea farmers would be left with the twigs and stems after selling off the leaves and buds.

I had a strange experience when I first tried this tea. When I smelled it, I was immediately transported to a childhood memory of drinking tea in a Chinese restaurant while waiting for wonton soup. It has a sweet, woody smell that for some reason reminds me of whatever we were given at our local Chinese restaurant.  I don't know what we were given then (I'm guessing it was an ancient bag of Oolong), but this tea is really bringing me back. 

The tea has a very mellow, nutty taste, very different from the strong, sweet aroma.  It is of course woody, but also smooth and light.  It is a great tea to drink all day long, and it's gentle taste would pair well with all different types of foods. I prefer to drink it after a meal, as the sweet aroma is relaxing and feels very dessert-like.

Through some research I have learned that Kukicha is the tea of choice for those that follow a macrobiotic diet. Macrobiotics founder George Ohsawa introduced kukicha to the West forty years ago. The tea supposedly balances the acidity levels in the body, which can help to prevent disease. Kukicha is also rich in vitamins and minerals.

I drink tea because I enjoy the whole experience, but it's nice to know that there may be many health benefits as well!  So if you are looking to boost your health benefits this coming year, drink more tea!  Kukicha is a great choice for health, but there are so many different varieties of tea out there, why not just pick up something that looks interesting to you and give it a try.  You could be off on your own tea adventure!


  1. Great post! I just bought a bag of kukicha and can't wait to try it.

  2. Excellent! Let me know what you think!!