I Like Kukicha

Sep 28, 2020

In tea communities (which is wierd thing to type), I mostly see hubub about sencha, gyokuro, and matcha when Japanese teas get brought up. Makes sense - they're very good teas and definitely the fancier options. I can't imagine much discussion or excitement for genmaicha, after all.

What does blow my mind, though, is how often I read things along the lines of having sencha or, amazingly, gyokuro every day. First of all, that stuff ain't cheap, unless you're getting bulk of the extremes, so having some every day is a pretty decent dent on your budget. Second of all... god, doesn't that get boring? Half the joy of tea to me is the variety, so while I have a lot of "daily drinkers" of things I have often as staples, I can't imagine a tea that would be a LITERAL daily drinker. I suppose if you just really love your damn sencha, but I can only take that umami so often.

Besides, everyone knows the real Greatest Japanese Green Tea Ever... is kukicha, a tea that's made of the little "leaf stems" as opposed to the leaves themselves.

Now, most writings about kukicha I find online, at least with cursory googling, are about its health benefits. Apparently kukicha can do everything from treating anxiety to boosting your metabolism to lowering blood pressure to enriching yourself with all sorts of chemicals I can't pronounce, and possibly is even capable of making these blog posts worth reading. I'll tell you right here and now that I don't drink tea for any alleged health benefits. In fact, it's probably a net negative because I'm a caffeine-addicted trainwreck and spend far too much money on it.

I drink tea mostly for the taste and the experience. Which leads me to, why kukicha: Well, just on the practical side, it's pretty affordable stuff - great kukicha is about comparable to decent sencha, which are both below good gyokuro. You can get a big ol' bulk of kukicha if you want, lasting you a good while, for not too much. Which is nice because kukicha tastes great: it's mild and sweet and at the higher-grades even get some the umami kick that the higher quality teas have... but not so much that it makes me feel sick, which is why I consider sencha a "sometimes tea". Kukicha I could drink all day by comparison.

An agreeable, more universal taste plus being relatively lax to brew (it's still a Japanese green, but I don't find them nearly as temperature sensitive) check the right boxes for me for an everyday tea. If I don't know what I want to have, kukicha is a pretty safe choice, and I don't really have to pay as much attention to the process as if I had something worth serious money. Also, the kyusu is hard to clean, so not having to feel obligated to take it out is always a major plus.

I have no real meaningful conclusion to this, just that I've been finishing off my supply of kukicha, am planning on getting another large quantity of it soon, and just, I dunno. I sure like kukicha. If you've never tried it, maybe you should! It's almost like the perfect middle ground between bancha and sencha... but if you've never had those either, you should probably try those as well.

Just drink green tea. Stuff's good, y'all.