I have to confess that I have been drinking and preparing Kukicha Green Tea in the wrong way all along! I only discovered that now as I was doing a bit of research about how to prepare the tea ‘properly’. Steeped too long, the tea will turn slightly bitter. Turns out though, that I really enjoy drinking it in this way, as it enhances the roasted taste and I love adding either almond or hazelnut milk and a bit of honey to it, especially in the winter. Sacrilege I know!
As with all things in life, it’s nice to follow the recipe, but sometimes it’s also good to do things in a dodgy way, or as I like to call it the ‘creative’ way, in order to discover new things.
Kukicha or bocha is different from other teas, in that it’s the stalks and stems of the Camellia sinensis or tea shrub that is used and not the leaves. From there it is steamed and dried and then aged and roasted. You can also use the unroasted variety, if you prefer it that way.
Therefore, in today’s recipe, I’ll offer 2 ways to prepare this Japanese tea.
The proper Japanese way: The tea can be steeped 3 times. The first time at 40 seconds, with the water at 70-80 degrees Celcius. The second time for 15 seconds and 30 seconds for the third time. Take some time to savour the more subtle flavor of this tea – plus if you’re not a big fan of green tea, you might find that you’ll love Kukicha, as it’s not astringent.
The dodgy way: Steep the stems in just-boiled water for 3 minutes or more. Drink as is, or add a bit of nut milk and honey to taste.
Benefits of Kukicha
High in minerals like copper, selenium, manganese, calcium, zinc and fluoride
Contains A, C and B-complex vitamins
Helps with digestion
Contains anti-carcinogens (to help prevent cancer)
Helps anyone suffering from bladder infection and heart diseases and lowers cholesterol levels.
High in antioxidants
Has 90% less Caffeine than coffee (normal green tea contains 60% less)
As I sit here writing this, sipping my tea, it is a grey, rainy day in Barcelona. If there’s one natural remedy I swear by, then it would have to be fresh ginger. It keeps the winter bugs away, is great for digestion and adds a bit of internal heat to the body when the weather starts getting a bit more chilly. I love drinking spicy Indian masala chai, but as I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve found that if I have it at night, I’m wide awake, because of the black tea that’s in there. As an alternative, I’ve started making my own South African inspired version of a masala tea, using fresh ginger and Rooibos tea. It’s super simple to make and really versatile as you can drink it on it’s own or add a bit of soya milk and honey, if you want something a bit more filling.
Simply grate some fresh organic ginger root into a medium pot of water, and then add two heaped teaspoons of loose Rooibos tea. The amount of ginger and Rooibos is up to you and will also depend on how big the pot is. I like mine really spicy, so I add a lot of ginger. If you only have Rooibos teabags, tear them open and pour the loose tea into the pot. Bring to a boil, strain and enjoy!
Ginger is thought to have originated in India. It is now of course used widely throughout the world, as an ingredient in both food and medicine. Listed below are just some of ginger’s amazing super-powers and benefits.
improves digestion and promotes a healthy digestive tract
helps minimise nausea
due to its anti-inflammatory properties it can help relieve painful arthritis
a natural remedy for the prevention and treatment of colds, flu and allergies
pain relief in cases of migraines and menstrual cramps
Although we have been having unusually cool weather for July in Barcelona, I predict that things will change next month and that the heat will be on. A great alternative to drinking water during the summer, is to chill your favourite tea or herbal infusion and drink that instead. One of my favourite herbal teas to drink cold is Hibiscus tea, which I first discovered through my dear Mexican friend, Chio. Bring a big pot of water to the boil. Turn off the heat and then add the Hibiscus petals to the water and leave to steep for 15 or 20 minutes. You don’t need a huge amount of petals, but the water should turn an amazing ruby-red colour. If you would like to sweeten it slightly, you can add honey or stevia at this point and then pour it into pitchers or bottles through a sieve. When it has cooled, store it inside the fridge and enjoy! It has a lovely fruity taste.
Aside from Mexico, it is also popular in many other countries around the world and has the following super-powers which people experience from drinking 1 – 3 cups daily:
reduces high blood pressure
lowers high cholesterol levels
is rich in Vitamin C and helps to prevent and fight infections
is a mild diuretic, which helps expel toxins from the body and decreases bloating
has antioxidants which provide cardiovascular benefits
helps with weight-loss by affecting the way the body absorbs carbohydrates and fats
keeps the body’s bladder function healthy and prevents constipation
helps alleviate mild depression
As always, there are side-effects, and people who suffer from high blood pressure, need to consult their doctor, before commencing with the tea as part of their treatment. Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding or on hormone replacement therapy should not drink Hibiscus tea, as it affects the hormone function of the body. Also be sure to drink the tea of the red Hibiscus flower, as there are many varieties and not all of them have been studied.