Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Aug 3rd 16 4:08 am
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Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Bok » Aug 3rd 16 4:08 am

Recently had the chance to try this rather lesser known byproduct of the tea production. For those who have never heard of it: The cut off stems of the leaves can be used to brew a still pleasurable, although lighter version of original tea.

In my case it was the stems of a high quality Dong-Ding. I think roasted or more oxidised will definitely give more drinking pleasure than the stems of greener Oolongs. The one I tasted had to have longer steeping times but delivered then a still quite fragrant brew.

Very enjoyable and – dirt cheap!
The cost is a fraction of the full leaf tea (still has some leaves in it though, not only stems).

So in my opinion an excellent candidate for everyday and budget drinking. Or for careless, grandpa-style, forget-the-tea-in-the-cup-for-hours etc.

Not sure where this kind of stuff is available for Western customers though…

Aug 3rd 16 4:23 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by ethan » Aug 3rd 16 4:23 am

I bought 2 ounces of roasted Japanese green tea that included stems, but it was not very much cheaper than 100% leaves. I do not remember whether it was also going under the name of houjicha or had its own name. (Den's Tea sells it; so anyone can look on the site.)

For some teas, it seems that when I prepare very recently harvested leaves, used stems are often soft & seem somewhat like leaves. I can imagine these stems providing flavor.

Something else to look for & play with--thanks Bok.

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Aug 3rd 16 11:31 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by kyarazen » Aug 3rd 16 11:31 am

aged tea stems are quite delectable. vanillic, woody, old book scent.

when i was in the states i was ordering around, was it holy mtn? or was it imperial teacourt? cant remember but there was one of them that sold a dongding kukicha that was the stems they pick off the competition tea. not an uncommon or queer thing, but it is something that the chinese wouldnt really drink. its always a matter of what different tea drinkers from different cultures looks for in a cup of tea.

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Aug 3rd 16 1:22 pm
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Drax » Aug 3rd 16 1:22 pm

I've had kukicha only a few times -- and the one that I had reminded me a lot of a mugicha (or a barley tea).

It was not something that I would regularly seek out, but it was certainly nice for a change.

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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Bok » Aug 3rd 16 1:36 pm

kyarazen wrote:aged tea stems are quite delectable. vanillic, woody, old book scent.
You are much better than me in putting a drinking sensation into words than myself, now that I see it in plain letters that is exactly how I would describe the tea I had. Dong Ding flavour was also still quite noticeable especially when left infusing for longer. That was one mistake I made with the first infusion, brewed it way too short! Silly really, should have known better...

That uncle I had it from is also certainly one more of an open-minded and experimental type, I can see how most typical Taiwanese drinkers would look down on those leftovers... :mrgreen:
Also he is not in the best of economic situations, so that kind of product is a welcome alternative to cheaper tea.

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Aug 3rd 16 10:22 pm
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by JRS22 » Aug 3rd 16 10:22 pm

I've only seen stem tea sold by vendors of Japanese tea. The 2 kariganes that O-Cha sells are excellent - asa giri and otsuusan, gyokuro and sencha. They're not roasted. Some vendors call it kukicha, and it's available roasted or not. Stem oolong sounds interesting. Let us know if you ever see it sold online.

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Aug 4th 16 9:32 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by entropyembrace » Aug 4th 16 9:32 am

I frequently drink unroasted karigane/kukicha. Maiko has several from high grade sencha and gyokuro as does O-cha and likely other Japanese vendors as well. I've just finished off some Karigane Uji no Kaori from Maiko tea it has a deep umami flavour with some sweetness and very thick mouthfeel. It's a very nice green tea, much more enjoyable than the hoji-kukichas we see more often from American vendors.

I wonder what oolong stems taste like? I've enjoyed oolongs that have had the stems left on but have never had the chance to try oolong stems from oolongs that have had them removed.

Aug 4th 16 11:14 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Bok » Aug 4th 16 11:14 am

entropyembrace wrote:
I wonder what oolong stems taste like? I've enjoyed oolongs that have had the stems left on but have never had the chance to try oolong stems from oolongs that have had them removed.
Kyarazen described it quite well above.
Otherwise taste is similar to the whole leaf tea it comes from, just lighter and with some additional flavours.

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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by kyarazen » Aug 4th 16 2:01 pm

Bok wrote:
Kyarazen described it quite well above.
Otherwise taste is similar to the whole leaf tea it comes from, just lighter and with some additional flavours.
if its old i.e. aged 30 years and above, the stem tea is really quite delicious, always very sweet and can give many repeated steeps.. but i've not found any good ones yet. the younger ones/fresher ones can be easily procured for real cheap.. but i dont feel like waiting decades!

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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by ricegeek » Aug 4th 16 8:12 pm

I found a bag of taiwanese oolong stem tea from my parent's cupboard, and have been drinking it grandpa style at work for a while. It's perfect grandpa style, because it doesn't get bitter. The tea seems to be from high quality production, so there's still quite a bit of dong ding sweetness in the tea to keep it interesting. I would imagine if you can find a good tea producer, their stem tea would be a pretty good bargain.

Teance of Berkeley still sells a twig tea, but their version is more stem than what I have, and it has less flavor when I tried it. It's also not that cheap for what it is.

Aug 5th 16 4:58 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Bok » Aug 5th 16 4:58 am

Funny how everyone who has had Taiwan oolong stems so far, has had them from high quality Dong Ding!
Sounds interesting to age it. As the taste is not one I will crave for, I might have more patience to age and wait :mrgreen:

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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by kyarazen » Aug 5th 16 5:31 am

Bok wrote:Funny how everyone who has had Taiwan oolong stems so far, has had them from high quality Dong Ding!
Sounds interesting to age it. As the taste is not one I will crave for, I might have more patience to age and wait :mrgreen:
not surprising.. because the only reason stems appear is because of tea competitions.. and these stems can only be plucked off the tea that is either unrolled, half rolled or fully rolled but with the stem on the outside. there are modern techniques that roll the stem to the inside.. and that affects the traditional roast and subsequent flavour due to water content.

you should see those old ladies sitting and plucking tea stems... :lol:

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Aug 8th 16 7:09 pm
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by vanderleaf » Aug 8th 16 7:09 pm

I had the opportunity to try kukicha (http://www.adagio.com/green/kukicha.html) at Adagio recently, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Really mellow flavor, a little bit of grassiness with a touch of toasted-rice.

Aug 9th 16 2:51 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Bok » Aug 9th 16 2:51 am

kyarazen wrote:
Bok wrote:Funny how everyone who has had Taiwan oolong stems so far, has had them from high quality Dong Ding!
Sounds interesting to age it. As the taste is not one I will crave for, I might have more patience to age and wait :mrgreen:
not surprising.. because the only reason stems appear is because of tea competitions.. and these stems can only be plucked off the tea that is either unrolled, half rolled or fully rolled but with the stem on the outside. there are modern techniques that roll the stem to the inside.. and that affects the traditional roast and subsequent flavour due to water content.

you should see those old ladies sitting and plucking tea stems... :lol:
Interesting detail, which makes sense of course, hadn’t thought about that!
I can vividly imagine those Ama’s and Asang’s plucking away :)

Aug 10th 16 1:22 am
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Re: Anyone else tried Tea-stem-tea?

by Whalebreath » Aug 10th 16 1:22 am

Bok wrote:Not sure where this kind of stuff is available for Western customers though…
I knew someone who drank a lot of it while living in Saudi and was disappointed to find it unavailable here in Vancouver even online it's a rare item.