Buckwheat tea, also known as Sobacha in Japan, memil-cha in Korea, and kuqiao-cha in China is made from roasting buckwheat – a common grain found in many northern regions such as the northern part of the United States, Russia, and China.
This helpful little plant hails from southwest Asia, making its roots in the heart of the tea-drinking world. Buckwheat naturally is a fast-growing crop, making it easy to produce to make into tea, flour, and other edible ingredients and much of the buckwheat consumed throughout the world is grown in Russia and China.
Okay, now we know what buckwheat is – but why do people drink it?
Great question! With so many kinds of teas available today, why reach for one that sounds as dry and tasteless as the name suggests? In fact, buckwheat is a very popular tea in Japan, and it is known for its dry, nutty, and earthy taste.
This tea is so robust and flavorful without being overpowering that frequent consumers of the beverage elect to not add any milk or sweetener as you do with many other tea varietals. Not only is the light, nutty taste unique and refreshing, but buckwheat tea has numerous health benefits as well.
Benefits and Buckwheat
Lots of teas, especially ones from the green tea family have health benefits, so what makes buckwheat tea the one that so many reach for in their cupboard?
Buckwheat tea is full of vitamin E, an essential vitamin in supporting the immune system and eye health. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant – a chemical that assists the body in fighting cancer-causing free radicals by building up the body’s defense system against these kinds of damaging cells.
Drinking buckwheat tea, which is rich in vitamin E, may help your body build up these defenses and lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle. Besides acting as a defense mechanism against harmful free radicals in the body, consuming vitamin E on a regular basis could also assist with lessening the painful effects of period cramps.
Aiding in Digestion
Besides being rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, buckwheat also contains phenolic acid. Phenolic acid is an important substance that helps your body regulate digestion and reduces inflammation that often occurs in the intestines. Inflammation can cause upset stomachs and digestive issues, so consuming buckwheat tea when you have a stomachache could lessen your symptoms.
Another important benefit to drinking a cup of nutty, earthy buckwheat tea is that it contains selenium – a substance that also reduces inflammation and increases the body’s immunity. Drinking buckwheat tea in the winter, during flu season, or when you feel like you are coming down with something could lessen your symptoms and help your body fight against the toxic viruses and bacteria invading your body.
Relaxing and Sleep
Although buckwheat tea has a similar flavor profile to another popular variety of tea, green tea, buckwheat tea lacks the caffeine that green tea is full of. This makes buckwheat tea the perfect drink to unwind after a busy day, to drink before bed, or if you’re trying to cut caffeine from your diet. Pick up a cup of the sweet, smooth, and nutty drink while you get ready for bed and you’ll be asleep before you even finish your cup.
Bursting to Brew
Now that the magic of buckwheat tea is clear you may be wondering: how do I make this delicious and magical substance? Of course, you can visit any Asian food store, click around on Amazon, or visit your local tea shop for a pre-brewed gallon or a box of pre-packaged granules like any other tea.
But if you want to go the extra mile and drink the freshest tea around, then you may want to reach for a saucepan and get to preparing your own buckwheat tea, without the storebought chemicals.
Find the buckwheat
The granules of buckwheat that are steeped to create buckwheat tea are called groats (growts). You can find untoasted groats at any bulk food store in your area (such as Whole Foods). To make a good amount of buckwheat tea, buy ½ to 1 cup of groats from the bulk food bins.
Toast the buckwheat
Now that you have purchased your untoasted buckwheat groats, it’s time to get a large skillet or pan out and set to work toasting your groats! Buckwheat tea gets its smooth, nutty, earthy flavors from the toasting done to the groats prior to steeping.
Pour your groats into a large skillet and stir them constantly on medium heat until they become fragrant. Turn the heat down and continue to toast until they are a chestnut brown. Take them off quickly so as not to burn your toasty groats!
Preparing the tea
Now that you have perfectly toasted your groats, its time to get to work brewing your tea. Remember – enthusiasts of buckwheat tea prefer to consume this beverage on its own without any frills, so put away your oat milk and your sugar and enjoy the tea just as it comes! Take 1 tablespoon of your freshly roasted and cooled groats and place them into a tea infuser. Pour boiling water into your favorite cup and steep your groats for 5 minutes. Once you remove your infuser, you’re ready to go!
Saving the grouts
Now that you’ve prepared the perfect cup of warm, nutty tea you may be wondering – but now I have all these toasted groats! I can’t possibly drink all this today. And that’s okay! While we won’t judge if you choose to drink cup after cup of this earthy beverage, fear not!
Make sure your toasted groats have cooled completely before placing them into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Now we know these probably won’t last that long (because you’ll want to drink this beverage every night) but if you can handle the temptation, your toasted groats will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Buckwheat tea is known for its many health benefits: antioxidants, fighting inflammation, lack of caffeine, but it’s also known for its smooth, earthy flavor and how easy it is to make! Next time you visit a bulk foods store, pick up some nutty groats and spend a little time toasting them up – you won’t be sorry when you have a jar of toasty, nutty, earthy, tea just waiting to be steeped.