Macrobiotics #2: Tea is the staff of life! (And, when prepared properly, so are grains – and I don’t mean beer.)

Access to nutrients. That is a big part of eating in a macrobiotic manner. Roasting, toasting, soaking, and in some cases boiling all allow the food to be digested swiftly, gently, in its best form. If your gut hurts right now, raw food is probably the opposite of what you should give it. I may say “Macrobiotic Diet” but what you should hear is, changing your eating habits so you are nourishing body and soul in celebrating what you eat.

Kukicha tea and Roasted Barley tea are constants in the day of someone living a macrobiotic life.

Westerners enjoy drinking Kukicha and Roasted Barley on ice in hot weather, while Asian cultures prefer drinking it as hot tea (which is not drunk at boiling temps at all, by the way). The Japanese now often enjoy these teas in tea bag form – so convenient – while other countries lean toward preparing them in large quantities, like I’m currently doing. Bulk preparation is much cheaper for Kukicha tea. Since I am doing this not only to change my relationship to food, but to heal myself of disease, I drink almost no water – I drink these two teas, made with filtered water. They nourish, they help with toxins, and they will satisfy a lot of western cravings.

Twig tea is exactly what it sounds like – the twigs, or twigs and tiniest leaves of the Japanese tea bush. It’s a specialty done with Sencha bushes that is a lovely echo of its bolder total leaf relative. Nothing is wasted, and best of all? Full tea flavor without caffeine – it has almost none. Kukicha is lovingly roasted and aged to reach its final full flavor, although a green form is also popular.

Right now I buy Ohsawa® Organic Twig-Only Tea, which is grown in the mountains of Okayama Prefecture. It is grown in near-perfect tea conditions – both morning and evening fog, with sunny, hot days – and it’s a lovely mellow thing with true tea nuttiness.

I brew it this way:

KUKICHA TEA

6-8 cups filtered water

¼ cup twig tea

Metal pot (mine is steel; the cheap steel with a porcelain glaze is good, too) to boil water in

Metal or ceramic bowl that can take and hold all this boiling water.

Large, fine mesh strainer.

Dinner-sized plate.

I double this (16 c. water, ½ cup twig tea) to gain four, 32 oz. Ball jars of tea.

Boil the water and then toss the twigs in. It must boil 20 minutes; it doesn’t need to be a furious boil, but the water should be moving. Set strainer over catch bowl.

Remove from heat. Wait a few moments, and then pour water and tea into the strainer. If the water rises back up over the bottom of the strainer, just lift the strainer and gently push on the leaves with a large spoon, to get most of the moisture out.

Now – one BIG difference between Kukicha tea and Roasted Barley tea – with Kukicha tea, turn the strainer over and dump the leaves on the dinner plate. Scrape leftovers from strainer and pot onto plate. Spread out the twigs over the plate and let them dry.

When the tea cools a bit, evenly distribute it into four, 32 oz. Ball jars. You may use a funnel to control the pour. Add filtered water to make each jar full. When cool, REFRIGERATE.

When the twigs dry out, put them in a container or a zipper plastic bag, and write the type of tea, how much it was when you brewed (1/4, ½ cup etc.) and the numbers 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 on it. ADD the words: Add 1 tablespoon new twigs per 1/4 cup each time you brew.

When you run out of tea? Put the twigs back in boiling water, add 1 tbsp. new twigs per 1/4 cup – and when it’s dry on the plate, put it back in the sack and CROSS OFF the number six. You now have twigs for five more brewings. Just add a tablespoon per quarter cup  new each time. This is a macrobiotic constant – always add something new to leftovers.

Roasted barley tea (RBT) can be drunk hot, cold or room temperature. Roasted barley tea is also caffeine-free, yet its taste is like a special bean of coffee – if you want dark roast coffee and can’t have it, try roasted barley tea.

ROASTED BARLEY TEA (RBT)

6-8 cups filtered water

¼ cup crushed tea

Metal pot (mine is steel; the cheap steel with a porcelain glaze is good, too) to boil water in

Metal or ceramic bowl that can take and hold all this boiling water.

Large, fine mesh strainer.

I double this (16 c. water, ½ cup twig tea) to gain four, 32 oz. Ball jars of tea.

Boil the water and then toss the tea in. It must boil 20 minutes; it doesn’t need to be a furious boil, but the water should be moving.

Remove from heat. Wait a few moments, and then pour water and tea into the strainer. If the water rises back up over the bottom of the strainer, just lift the strainer and gently push on the tea with a large spoon, to get most of the moisture out.

This time, THROW THE GROUNDS AWAY. RBT grounds are good for only one use. (My compost likes them!)

When the tea cools a bit, evenly distribute it into four, 32 oz. Ball jars. You may use a funnel to control the pour. Add filtered water to make each jar full. When cool, REFRIGERATE.

For both of these – if you want stronger, or lighter tea, adjust final water accordingly. But like other fermented teas and coffee, the dark stuff can stain your teeth, if you don’t brush thoroughly every day. And it can stain even stainless steel pots, so get some Bon Ami or Barkeeper’s Friend and gently but thoroughly get rid of those rings before they take a lot of scrubbing!

There’s something special I do with Kukicha tea every morning – I add things to make a tea that is gentle and healing on the GI tract. Next time, I’ll give that recipe.

The links provided go to the exact brand I use, although I have not tried to order from Gold Mine. You can use tea bags, a “coffee pot” brewer, etc. with these teas – whatever works. But Kukicha is as rare as fine coffee, and costs accordingly. The method I use gets me 16 cups to a 4 ball jar amount –7 times. And that is just a ½ cup of twigs plus 12 Tbsp. of twigs.

Here’s the Gold Mine Natural Foods web site, and they do have other products I’ll talk about in coming posts. Somewhere you can find these things cheaper, same brand (or more, most likely.) I buy mine at the macrobiotic center in Austin, TX, Casa de Luz – they sold me a 3.5 oz. Kukicha pack for $3.00, and the RBT was also $3.00 a packet.

Both these teas can be purchased as a box or packet of tea bags, if you don’t want to go all-out on this experiment.  Gold Mine, Choice Organic Teas, and Eden sell this tea in bags.  Either way, I recommend you give them a try.  Enjoy!

 

Share

About Katharine Eliska Kimbriel

Cat Kimbriel is working on a a contemporary fantasy about curses, ecological change, and very different ways of looking at the twilight worlds. She's still working on a short Nuala piece and mulling over a new Alfreda novel. You can find her fantasy & science fiction, including free samples, at her Book View Café bookshelf. These books can also be found at major online booksellers. Her personal blog is here, and you will find her on whatever social media currently interests her. Cat builds worlds that contain compassion and justice -- come join the journey.

Comments

Macrobiotics #2: Tea is the staff of life! (And, when prepared properly, so are grains – and I don’t mean beer.) — 1 Comment