I'd never noticed a box of Japanese Twig Tea before, but it seems to be the hot new thing in the Whole Foods tea aisle, so I nabbed two boxes to try it out. Kukicha, also known as bōcha, is actually made from the twigs and stems of the tea plant, sometimes with some leaves mixed in. The woody bits are roasted to bring out a nuttiness that can range from delicately toasty to a flavor that's like Kashi cereal in liquid form. Most of the caffeine in the tea plant is concentrated in the leaves, so these twig and stem teas are lower in caffeine than green teas.
The Haiku Organic Kukicha we tried is comforting and malty, super-smooth and tasty over the course of multiple infusions. If you like the toasty, grainy flavor of Stash green tea, you should try this stuff. It's nearly a breakfast in itself (though it calls out for wheat toast and jam.)
The Choice Organic Twig Kukicha is a more robust and full, a bit more fruity and less nutty and grainy. It's super-smooth, with a gentle nutmeg-and-ginger spiciness. Sip it with a scone or biscuit.
Have you ever tried Japanese twig tea? Got a favorite brand?