All major types of tea (including black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea, kukicha tea, etc.) are made from the same tea bush, known as Camellia sinensis. However, there are many specialty types of herbal teas (including chamomile, peppermint, rosehips, ginger, dandelion, etc.) that come from specific herbs, spices, or other plant material.
The Uniqueness of Kukicha Tea
The type of tea depends on where it comes from on the bush and how it is processed. The upper green leaves are used for green tea, while the remaining leaves are used for black tea, which are allowed to fully oxidize before being processed and dried. White tea is created by using the new, young tea leaves and buds, and oolong tea is made from partially oxidized leaves somewhere between green and black oxidation levels. The very tips of the upper green leaves are used for matcha green tea (and is the freshest of all teas). Lastly, the twigs, stems, and leaves of the tea bush are used for kukicha tea, giving it a slightly nutty or clean roasted flavor.
Kukicha is the most unique of the teas because it consists of twigs that have been matured on the bush for three years and roasted 4 separate times. This reduces the caffeine content to nearly zero. The other teas have a brighter, fresher, more stimulating quality. Kukicha retains those qualities, but because of the maturity and aging, it can have a very centered and stabilizing quality, as well as powerful expanding and contracting qualities.
The Health Benefits of Kukicha Twig Tea
Because of these qualities, kukicha twig tea has unique benefits for digestive and cardiovascular health. As an example, it aids digestion by stimulating the peristaltic effect of expanding and contracting of the colon. Additionally, kukicha strengthens and regulates the heartbeat through its expanding and contracting qualities, as well as strengthening the autonomic nervous system (which controls all the automatic functions of the body) for the same reasons.
Kukicha is also an alkalizing tea that promotes both physical vitality and mental clarity. It is also very nutrient-dense in both vitamins and minerals that come from the soil it’s grown in. Most people are already familiar with the health benefits of green tea. However, because twig tea is relatively lesser known, many don’t know that it also has very unique benefits. For instance, the mineral content in kukicha is higher and it can be used topically to rub on the gums of teething babies, mouth sores, skin breakouts, or rashes. Finally, as an anti-inflammatory, it also can help strengthen and smooth your skin even when ingested.
How & When to Drink Twig Tea
When you make twig tea, it should be golden brown rather than dark or black like coffee. Keep in mind that while other teas are steeped, kukicha is simmered. The way to ensure this is to not use too much tea and to not simmer it for too long. This tea is generally consumed while still hot, but can be consumed cold if preferred.
Even with reduced caffeine levels, some people find twig tea to be stimulating, so you may want to use caution by avoiding it right before bed. Also, kukicha is generally used as a digestive aid after a meal, but can be enjoyed at any time. Some people drink a cup after every meal. But even by having some a few times a week you may notice the positive benefits of the kukicha.
Kukicha Tea Home Remedy Recipe
A common and effective remedy using kukicha is Ume Sho Bancha Tea. You can follow the link to get step-by-step instructions on how to make it. Ume Sho Bancha strengthens digestion and circulation, in addition to strengthening blood quality. This can be used as an occasional home remedy when you feel you need to stimulate your digestion for a “pick-me-up” and is not recommended as a daily drink.