Karigane is the name of sencha that is made of stem only. It is the same tea as Kukicha or Bocha. However, usually Karigane is of good quality tea. When we mention about “stem tea”, some might wonder why we have to drink tea from “stem”. Most of us who’ve never tried Karigane might have such skeptical view. In any event, please try this tea at least once. Only after trying it, your perception will change. The stem gives a very sweet and less bitter taste to the tea. It makes the tea very delicious to enjoy.
In fact, the good quality Karigane is always consumed by the manufacturers themselves. Usually stem tea is cheaper than leaf tea, yet it is very delicious to drink. The farmers know this very well and therefore they like to keep sufficient quantity for their own drinking.
Most of Karigane (Kukicha) that introduced to the market is either plucked 2nd batch or 3rd batch. The stem made of late-plucked tea gives astringency to the taste. This type of late-plucked Kukicha or Karigane is commonly sold in the supermarkets and departmental stores. Due to its astringent taste, this type of tea has to be intensively baked with fire. As a result, most of the original fresh and sweet flavor is lost during the baking process.
Our Karigane is produced in Kikugawa. We particularly selected stems from leaves plucked early in spring. Early harvested tea always gives a sweet aroma and lacks bitter or astringent taste. The quality stem is segregated during the process of sencha making, by using an electrostatic sorting machine. And then we conduct baking with moderate heat as to bring up the flavor, which is like rice.
Although the cost of this tea is not as high as Sencha, it is rather a good tea to drink on a regular occasion or after meals. You can brew tea as many times as 6 to 7 brewing. You can also enjoy this tea brewed with cold water.