Kukicha and Hojicha- Low In Caffeine and Health Benefits?

by Anonymous
(Serbia)

Julian, what about Japanese kukicha and hojicha teas? Do they contain little caffeine? How about health benefits?

Answer:

Any tea contains some health benefits. The key is to understand the chemical composition, and how that impacts taste and nutrition.

For green tea, it is actually quite simple. Basically it boils down to whether it is an early harvest, or a later one.

Early harvests contain more caffeine and theanine, and is richest in the antioxidant EGCG. Basically it contains more of everything, but with much more theanine.

Theanine is unami in taste, while EGCG is astringent and caffeine bitter. For a high grade, the overall effect is actually unami. Some people don't like to drink green tea because it tastes "weak". This is exactly how theanine tastes like, brothy, fishy, fresh, subtle - whatever you call it. The early harvests are also more aromatic, a "nosy" feeling.

Later harvests are more tea-like, strong in mouth feeling, but lacking in after-feeling. They are less refreshing and less soothing, even though each gram is supposed to contain less caffeine. Why? That is because it contains even less of theanine.

Both Kukicha and Hojicha belong to the late harvest varieties.

When making Hojicha, the loss of catechins (antioxidants) and caffeine during the firing process will have the effects of reducing its health benefits.

For Kukicha, I am less sure, as I have never seen the chemical contents of twigs and stems. But suffice to say it will have less caffeine and antioxidants.

The below background information has been compiled from Wiki:

Hojicha

Hojicha is often made from Bancha ("common tea"), tea from the last harvest of the season, however other varieties of Hojicha also exist, including a variety made from sencha.

Hojicha is set apart from other Japanese green teas because it is roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal. The tea is fired at high temperature, altering the leaf colour tints from green to reddish-brown.

Hojicha infusions have a light- to reddish-brown appearance, and are less astringent due to losing catechins during the high temperature roasting process.

The roasting replaces the vegetative tones of standard green tea with a toasty, slightly caramel-like flavour. The roasting process used to make Hojicha lowers the amount of caffeine in the tea.

Kukicha

Kukicha, or twig tea, also known as bocha, is a Japanese blend of green tea made of stems, stalks, and twigs.

Kukicha has a mildly nutty, and slightly creamy sweet flavor. It is made of four sorts of stems, stalks and twigs of Camellia sinensis.

Comments for Kukicha and Hojicha- Low In Caffeine and Health Benefits?

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Feb 26, 2011
Kukicha caused me ill effect
by: Nichalus

Hello. I learned about kukicha from my local macrobiotic restaurant in Austin, Texas. There was a time when I had decided I really liked, and bought some of my own to make at home. I am already fairly caffeine sensitive so I was pleased to know that this variety should be very low due to the roasting process and the fact that caffiene is supposed to be concentrated in the leaves. It took several tries to get the brew to taste good like the way they make it as Cas de Luz. But I finally figured it out. Instead of using an average amount of tea like you would imagine for a regular cup of green or black it took actually almost 10X that amount to give the same flavor spectrum as what they serve at Casa, and mind you the tea there has quite a good flavor and definately not too strong tasting.

I had heard when inquiring at the restaurant that they apparently brewed their kukicha at like teaspoons (or was it 3 tablespoons?) per quart I think simmered for 30 minutes to an hour or longer. I tried this at home several times and could not get the same results in terms of rich flavor, so as I remember correctly, I decided to try simmering two to three tablespoons per cup instead for for 5 mintes and the resulting brew was delicious! It actual TASTED really GOOD! I was using a macrobiotic brand called Mitoku Nagata Organic Roasted Bancha Twig Tea.

However after drinking this concentrated brew for the first time I realized something was wrong. I soon experienced severe muscle tensions in my upper back and neck. When I tried to go to sleep I had angina pains and then woke up in the middle of the night with pain in the back of my head like someone had cut a hole in my skull and was doing brain surgery upon me. I also had a horrible nightmare of the the nuclear bomb that off in Nagasaki, Japan. I actually had this horrible sensation that an actual bomb was (LITERALLY) being dropped from the sky on MY city and that I was about to die. I think I must have drank lots of water at that point to try and clear my system.

Later in the morning when I got up I thanked god for my life and went to church which is unheard of for me these days. It humbled me and reminded me of my mortality. I swore I would never drink kukicha again and gave the rest of the bag to a friend, however I have tried the tea again at the restaurant I mentioned since then and it hasn't given me such terrible problems except if I drink more than one cup.

Feb 26, 2011
Kukicha caused me ill effects
by: Nichalus

Continued... They say according to macrobiotic research that kukicha is supposed to be the lowest in caffeine tea and also supposedly alkalizing to the body. However, I have a theory of my own and I want to try and locate some reseach that could validate.

I think that since kukicha is unique in that it is one of the only teas to make almost exclusive use of the stems and twigs, that the tea produced by it even if roasted to a black tea quality, may have significantly different chemical properties to it than traditional full leaf tea. In fact, the event that brought me to this website was a search to your article about excess limits of fluoride content in powdered tea. This was not precisely the information I was looking for - but actually the flouride content of kukicha, as of now I am speculating, I believe that kukicha may also be excessively high in fluoride and that this may be a part of the overall negative effect I experienced.

Apparently the tea plant is known to concentrate fluoride in its system, whether the majority comes from the soil, water, and/or is absorbed by air, I do not know. More research needs to be presented in this area to determine where the majority of fluoride in the plant is concentrated and is stored whether in the root, wood/bark, or leaves. However we do know that a significant if not "healthy?" quantity occurs in the leaves. I again would like to see detailed research that really goes into depth on the chemical composition of tea leaf.

Fluoride is an ion of the toxic element fluorine, and science has shown that this ion is most toxic when in the form of sodium fluoride, however when naturally bound to calcium it becomes biologically inert IF this pre-occurs outside of the human body prior to intake. Problems occur when excess free fluoride ions are consumed in an electro-negative state(loose) where they will readily then detatch themselves into biological structures in the human body not the least of which are the bones. The human brain and nervous system is also known to be negatively impacted by free fluoride ions that can penetrate neurons, pass into the cerebro-spinal fluid and beyond the blood brain barrier as well as displacing essential iodine at key receptor sites in the thyroid, heart, liver, kidneys and other internal organs.


Feb 26, 2011
Kukicha caused me ill effects
by: Nichalus

So as far as my experience with kukicha goes, and knowledge of fluorides toxic effect, I feel it is safe to speculate at this point that my adverse reactions could be at least in part due to a reaction to the excessive fluoride content found in tea bark/ twigs. As far as I know this topic has been yet to be studied or reported widely by scientists; especially as this tea is not, as far as I know, considered one of the more popular varieties. It is quite a bit less common in America. Roasting may concentrate toxic amounts of novel purine/ xanthines as well, along with the recommended long simmer times used to make this tea and extract the deep rich roasted flavor.

It is my recommendation that people should not drink significant amounts of kukicha teas until reasearch can be done that confirms the safety of this herb or if they find they have any similar adverse reactions. Make sure you are supplementing iodine into your diet to counteract the negative effects of fluorides and other toxins in the environment.

Thank you.

Aug 13, 2011
Kukicha and flouride
by: Julian

Nichalus, I somehow agree with your conclusion.

As far as I understand, tea plants accumulate fluoride from the soil and water.

I read from research somewhere that tender tea buds have the lowest level of fluoride, while mature leaves have a lot more.

Your conclusion that twigs and stems have high level of fluoride is consistent with the above research finding.

Oct 02, 2011
Excuse me?
by: Jacob

Nicklaus is obviously deranged.

Kukicha tea is among the healthiest beverages possible. I have drank 2-3 pots of it a day for years with absolutely no ill effect.

Jul 13, 2012
Delicate
by: Kate

I agree with ur I'll effects and understand I am a
Lso very sensitive. The batch u experienced
May have been quite old imbued with heavy energy
Including the flouride hence u received a psych
Ic reaction hence u don't have trouble w the
One from the rest. We r so delicate and I wish
U and I wish u so much love light and healing in this life. --kate

Oct 22, 2012
Nichlaus's Ill effects probably due to constitution
by: Anonymous

Although it is possible that the kukicha you bought was tainted, it's more likely that you suffered ill effects due to your specific constitution (in terms of oriental medicine).

In chinese herbology, almost no herb is categorically good for everyone. Certain herbs are good/bad for certain people based on their constitution and current condition. Palpitations and vivid nightmares often point to a constitutional pattern involving the heart organ/meridian (not necessarily in western biomedical terms). It sounds like the tea exacerbated a pre-existing heart pattern (again, based on chinese medicine, so you may have completely normal heart functioning from a western biomedical perspective).

I don't know if you're open to alternative medicine, but I know Austin has a good Chinese medicine school, so you might go to their student clinic if you're curious to find out more. Plus, Austin's full of acupuncturists as well. I'd be curious to see what you find out.

Oct 23, 2013
Kukicha
by: Anonymous

Just to clarify the misinformation being presented in the comments here; the fluoride in green tea is calcium fluoride, not the toxic sodium fluoride most people associate with fluoride. Calcium fluoride is not even recognized as a toxin by any scientific consensus. Sodium fluoride is a different story.

Feb 09, 2014
Calcium Fluoride?
by: Nichalus

How can you be so sure that its Calcium Fluoride, anonymous? I mean, I know that this is the most reduced form most often found in nature but seriously. Who knows? Who knows if the fluoride ions in ocean water which far outweighs the amount of iodine, binds up with more calcium or fluoride in the evaporated sea salt. There sure is alot more sodium in sea salt for it to bind to than calcium. I am aware calcium fluoride is supposed to be an inert non-toxic form, however who is to say that even if that is theform found in tea, that the fluoride does not dissociate when brewed into an infusion. Are you a scientist who has done some sort of testing to determine?

Just for all you who may have been wondering, the Kind of Kukicha that I was getting was Mitoku brand Organic from the macrobiotic restaurant in South Austin. It is one of the highest quality Kukichas offered for sale from Japan, not some generic run of the mill stuff. It says it is aged for two or more years in wood barrels prior to being packaged and sold. It is super-premium quality. Perhaps it was some other component yet identified from the tea plant that caused my reaction.

My favorite caffeinated beverages of all time are Yerba Mate, Guayusa(Ecuador), and Yaupon Holly(contains caffeine as well). While not true "teas" in the formal sense, they offer me a more healthful and harmonious alternative. The only true tea I like is whole leaf organic green tea, however due to the increasing scares of unregulated industrial pollution in china, I would not be surprised if other toxins are making their way into chinese tea. I think Indian and Ceylon 'Teas' are probably safer in terms of protection from airborne waste being carried by the wind.

I have a caffeine sensitivity all the way around but obviously it was not the source of my kukicha issue. Coffee oils go rancid rather quickly and the tell tale sign besides the taste that I pick up on from coffee is that is gives me liquid bowels. Literally it forces my body to purge. This only happens when I drink stale coffee. If coffee doesn't taste really clean and fresh I recommend people do not drink it. It can be hard to get consistently high quality coffee, even from local roasters I have found, which makes me inclined not to buy beans at all unless I can taste the resulting brew first to ensure 100% freshness. Otherwise I'm better of roasting my own beans or else simply leaving the stuff alone.


Mar 01, 2014
Moderate in moderation
by: Digger

Interesting to read thoughts and opinions of others. While I can't say I've experienced the Hojica premium top shelf stuff, but I have enjoyed this tea as a change of pace from other teas and look forward to winding down in my later years (if I live long enough,who knows?) with this tea . Please realize I'm no tea authority or expert , just a tea drinker looking for that very special tea. This one has its benefits and i appreciate others analyse of their in-take, the properties of the teas etc.
As it I'm still looking for that special tea, I say this one is not a bad substitute. Thanks

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