Kukicha 101

A Guide to Japanese Kukicha Green Tea

Guide Contents:

  • What is Japanese Kukicha Tea?
  • How is Kukicha Produced?
  • Sugimoto Tea Company Kukicha
    • How to Brew Kukicha

What is Japanese Kukicha Tea?

Kukicha tea is made from stems that are separated from green tea leaves during tea production for matcha and sencha.

Since it’s made from stems, kukicha tea has a lower caffeine content than leaf teas. Aside from this, it also has a sweeter aroma, which makes it a crowd-pleaser for tea drinkers of all ages.

The naturally sweet flavor of kukicha comes from its high content of L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that acts as a caffeine-absorption inhibitor, which means it slows the absorption of caffeine in the brain.

When caffeine is ingested with L-theanine, the consumer experiences the effects of caffeine over a longer arc of time rather than a sudden spike. Due to this and the already low caffeine content of kukicha, kukicha is an ideal tea for kids, seniors, and those who are caffeine-sensitive.

Kukicha in Japan: In some parts of Japan, kukicha is always roasted and called “hojicha.” Roasted kukicha is popular in Ishikawa Prefecture, and is known as “kaga boucha” ("kaga stick tea”) and “houji boucha” (“roasted stick tea”).

How is Kukicha Produced?

During regular tea production, leaves are sorted based on size, then are de-stemmed. These leaves will eventually become loose leaf teas. The remaining stems will be made into kukicha tea.

Kukicha has high L-theanine levels. This is because L-theanine is produced in the roots then carried through the stem, before making its way to the leaf.

Another thing that can increase L-theanine levels in kukicha is the type of leaves it is derived from. Kukicha made from shaded leaves is called “karigane.”

Shaded teas like gyokuro produce more L-theanine than those grown fully in the sun. The process of photosynthesis makes leaves lose L-theanine. Thus, shading the tea produces higher L-theanine content than say, sencha, which is grown in full sunlight.

Sugimoto Tea Company Kukicha Teas

  • Kukicha -- Premium Kukicha made of young tea stems harvested in spring.
  • Organic Kukicha -- Our organic kukicha tea certified according to USDA standards.
  • ENRICH Series Kukicha -- Premium Kukicha made of young tea stems harvested in spring. Packaged in a resealable foil pouch, this economically-sized package can be used by tea drinkers for fresh daily enjoyment.
  • Yuzu Matcha Kukicha -- In this flavor-rich blend, the umami of Matcha and Kukicha are complemented by the tart sweetness of Yuzu (a Japanese citrus best described as if an orange and a lemon had a beautiful baby). Even in cold water, this tea releases a smooth, complex flavor, making it perfect for a refreshing cold-brew.

How to Brew Kukicha

Want to enjoy a cup of Sugimoto Kukicha tea? Here’s a brewing guide for each of our Kukicha teas:

Tea Type

Amount of Tea

Amount of Water

Water Temperature

Steeping Time

Kukicha

1 Tbsp. (5g)

12 oz.

175° F and higher

1-2 min.

Organic Kukicha

1 Tbsp. (5g)

12 oz.

175° F and higher

1-2 min.

ENRICH Series Kukicha

1 Tbsp. (5g)

12 oz.

175° F and higher

1-2 min.

Yuzu Matcha Kukicha

1 Tbsp. (5g)

12 oz.

200° F

30 sec

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