Dec 21, 2012

Kukicha Twig Tea

It’s snowing on my mountain this morning! Perfect for a hot cup of tea before I plan my baking schedule for the day (watch for more baked goodies soon!). While this is not a recipe, I really want to share with you the benefits of kukicha tea today…

Kukicha tea is made from the twigs and stems of the green tea plant, rather than the leaves. It is a slightly sweet tea with a hint of chestnut flavor. Much like green tea, kukicha tea, which is also sometimes called “winter tea” or “bancha twig tea,” has many health benefits. I’ve been drinking this tea since the mid 1980s when I ate mostly a Macrobiotic diet.

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. 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. Kukicha can be purchased in bulk or in tea bags.

In general, the tea is believed to help improve and stabilize overall health and improve 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.

One of my favorite remedies is to mix a small amount of Umeboshi Plum Concentrate (1/8 teaspoon) into a cup of kukicha tea. My dear friend, Jeanne Powers, told me about this natural remedy. It’s particularly good for killing a toxic headache. If you’ve ever eaten too many sweets (Christmas treats anyone?!) you may be familiar with this type of headache. One cup of this preparation will most often provide relief. It’s also good for the tummy if you’ve overeaten or eaten some other not-so-healthy food.

Plum Concentrate is made in Japan from unripe green ume plums. The plums are harvested, washed, soaked and then pressed. The juice is slowly cooked down over 48 hours to produce a thick, dark syrup concentrate. For every kilogram (2.2 lb.) of fresh plums, only 20 grams of ume concentrate is obtained, resulting in 30 times the concentration of pickled ume plums without the high sodium content of umeboshi plums. Plum foods are often referred to as the “king of alkaline food.” Its concentrate is used in traditional health regimens to achieve optimal balance.

So there you have it. I’m off to do some baking.

Healthy Trails!
     Helyn

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