Kukicha is the Best Kept Secret in the Tea Plant

Little known kukicha tea (茎茶), also known as bancha twig tea or winter tea, is a Japanese blend made of stems, stalks, and twigs.

It is just like green tea, an incredibly healthy derivative of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. 

Kukicha is made from the twigs, stems and coarse leaves of the tea tree, just as green, black and oolong tea is a product of the leaves, and white tea is made from the buds. In Uji Japan, the old tea district located between the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto, tea farmers would make kukicha for themselves after selling the more valuable leaves and buds. They developed a precise method for creating this 'peasant's drink'.

Like sencha green tea, there are myriad health benefits of kukicha tea. It is made by first steaming the harvested plant. The twigs are sun dried and then stored in paper bags for two to three years, allowing the flavor to develop. Following the aging process, they are cut to specific lengths, and then grouped according to their grade. Each grade is roasted for different durations and temperatures in order to end with the consistent desired taste of kukicha twig tea - light, nutty and slightly creamy.

In Japan, kukicha still carries the stigma of a poor man's beverage, but in the West, it has been embraced for its remarkable ability to stabilize health and promote longevity. George Ohsawa, the founder of macrobiotics, and Michio Kushi, one of his disciples, popularized the drink, spreading the knowledge of the natural kukicha tea benefits. It plays a central role in the macrobiotic diet, which is based on the belief that balance is the key to optimum well-being. The macrobiotic diet consists of mostly
whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes and seaweed, with kukicha as one of the recommended beverages.

Health Properties of Twig Tea
Kukicha tea benefits are numerous and potentially profound. Its primary impact lies in its alkalizing abilities; kukicha tea helps to alkalize the body's fluids and tissue, thereby balancing acidity levels and preventing disease.
Kukicha twig tea has the strongest alkalizing ability of any Japanese tea. It is also packed with nutrients. A cup of twig tea is a good source of calcium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese and fluoride. It is also a rich source of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and A, flavonoids and the same polyphenols that have made green tea known as a cancer-fighting food, catechins.

Catechins act as powerful antioxidants, minimizing the effect of free radicals before they have a chance to damage other cells. One catechin in particular, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has twenty-five to one hundred times the antioxidant capability of vitamins C and E, which are the primary water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidants. Research has shown that EGCG may not only prevent cancer, but also suppress tumor growth, and block enzymes which help to spread cancer within cells. Many have claimed eating a macrobiotic diet, including kukicha twig tea is a cure for some cancers. Although there is no scientific evidence of this, George Ohsawa may be correct - kukicha tea is one of the most balancing beverages, and therefore is an integral part of optimal health.

The best thing about kukicha tea is that it helps to maintain proper functioning of the kidneys and liver, two crucial body organs that aid the process of decontamination. Kukicha tea has natural ingredients that are proven to have detoxification activities and antioxidant properties. This helps your body remove unwanted by-products and harmful wastes, keeping you disease- free and healthy.

Kukicha tea also aids in production of bile, which subsequently enhances digestive processes in the body.

Drinking Kukicha Twig Tea
Like green tea, twig tea should be made with hot, not boiling water. Allow boiled water to cool, then steep the tea for up to three minutes. Unlike black tea, kukicha has almost no caffeine - approximately 10 percent the amount of a cup of coffee. It can be enjoyed throughout the day without the adverse effects of caffeine. Brewed kukicha can also be mixed with apple juice and served cold.

Despite the positive claims of the health benefits of kukicha tea, almost no research has been done at this point. Perhaps drinking twig tea will add years to your life; maybe it can slow, if not cure some cancers. Regardless if it is a miracle drink or not, it remains a highly beneficial and enjoyable drink.

I find Eden Kukicha tea to be my favorite. Choice also sells some, but I don't like it as well. Eden's has a fuller taste.

Thanks for reading! What do you think?


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  2. I have reintroduced Kukicha Tea back into my diet in helping me combat a candida yeast infection. Don't know why I stopped drinking this amazing tea.
    Thank you for your post. Peace & Love

  3. Thank you for this great information. I recently came across Choice's Kukicha and remembered how I loved drinking it before. Now that I know of all its health benefits, I will be making it a regular drink again.

  4. Thank you for this great information. I recently came across Choice's Kukicha and remembered how I loved drinking it before. Now that I know of all its health benefits, I will be making it a regular drink again.

  5. I have never heard the tea named kukicha twig tea but as you said it is just like a green tea formed through the Camellia Sinesis plant than may be it is likely similar as green tea benefits just like weight loss , stress buster and other benefits.

  6. This is served at a macrobiotic vegan restaurant that I love. Tasty stuff.

  7. Wholesome and earthy in flavor and is known for a myriad of healthful benefits... I especially appreciate taking this tea for its calcium toting benefits.

  8. I really liked reading this. It talks about all the known things the tea contains, its history, etc. And there are no outright miracle claims about it as you mentioned how there hasn't been a lot of research on the tea which was very honest and only further credits your writing. A lot of blogs and such will make big claims in spite of lack of research.
    I would conclude that this is likely a very healthy tea with probably some unique benefits that other parts of the tea plant don't have–it sounds much richer in minerals than other teas made from the tea plant, for one example. And research done on a variety of herbal teas shows that pretty much all herbal teas are beneficial and a good source of antioxidants, some better than others. I don't doubt this is the case for twig tea, but I would LOVE to see some research. Who knows, maybe there's even more EGCG than in green tea... or something undiscovered.
    What I do know is that from my experience so far, it is SO delicious!! I would probably make sure to buy it grown in Japan and not China due to lead concerns. But even if from China, you can drink a certain amount of black tea (which contains the most lead) everyday and as much green as you want but if you're eating the green tea (such as in matcha) then there is a limit if it was grown in China (awesome video on this somewhere on nutritionfacts.org), personally though I would not drink black or oolong tea grown in China.
    So anyways, just to be on the safe side, due to little research, I wouldn't drink 10 cups of twig tea a day and just enjoy in moderation and appreciate the benefits and taste.
    I know Eden gets their green tea from Japan, which I like (no lead concerns from tea grown in Japan), so I imagine the same goes for their twig tea. I actually just got a sample of their twig tea which I'm excited to try.

    Now I'm going off of memory about lead and how much tea if grown in China and all that, it's all in the video on nutritionfacts.org, so do check if you're interested and don't simply go by what I'm saying because my memory could be off in some area. In fact, here's a link to the video :https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lead-contamination-of-tea/

    Anyways, good article, I enjoyed reading.

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