When we’re interested in a relaxing cup of tea but not keen on being wide-eyed and fully caffeinated, Kukicha (“koo kee cha”) is our go-to tea. Kukicha, or twig tea, has a warm amber color and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It's unique for its surprisingly low caffeine content.
The Japanese tea growing season consists of four pluckings. During the last plucking, bushes are pruned and the discarded twigs are used for Kukicha. Older twigs from the fall and winter seasons have the lowest caffeine content. Kukicha is sometimes referred to as ‘peasant’s tea’ since it’s made from these less valuable parts of the tea plant.
Just like green tea, let the water cool down slightly prior to steeping. Hotter water temperatures may result in bitter tea. Kukicha may be served hot or chilled.
For an easy summer drink, combine chilled kukicha with apple juice.