Adopted into Japanese culture during the 700s, green tea has been a staple of everyday life since the 12th century. Myouan Eisai, a Zen priest, wrote about this caffeinated beverage and the potential health benefits that it has. It was this book that solidified tea within the culture and led to it being widely consumed by all, not just by people in religious settings or by people of upper social classes.
One type of green tea that has gained popularity in Japan is Konacha, which is made from the broken leaf debris that results when manufacturing Sencha and Gyokuro teas. Not quite a powder, this type of tea is made up of small crumbled tea bits, buds, and dust. Despite being made from “leftover” tea leaves, it has become mainstreamed and is readily consumed.
Although it is unclear when this green tea variety first made its way to the scene, it quickly became popular for a few reasons. First, it is relatively cheap when compared to other types of green tea. Despite being produced from higher-quality tea leaves that have been broken, they are still lower in price since the tea is not comprised of whole tea leaves.
Secondly, since Konacha is made from the debris of high-quality teas, the taste is very strong, the color is a vibrant dark green, and the aroma is slightly bitter. These qualities make this tea a great companion to sushi. Besides being an economically smart choice, Japanese restaurants often serve this type of green tea to cut down on the sushi aftertaste.
The third reason Konacha tea is popular, which is also another reason that restaurants tend to serve it, is its quick brewing time. Unlike whole leaves that need to steep for a few minutes, Konacha’s almost powdery consistency takes brewing time down from minutes to seconds.
Brewing Konacha Tea
This type of green tea, like many other varieties, is easy to brew. It’s also available both loose and in tea bags. In order to make the best brew possible, it is suggested that you should use a Japanese teapot (Kyusu).
In a handful of steps, and with only three items, you can brew a fresh, hot refreshing cup of Konacha at home.
- Measure how much water you will need to make your tea. For every cup of tea, you will need 4 oz of water. (If you are making four cups of tea, you will need 16 oz of water.)
- On a stove, or with an electric kettle, bring the measured-out water to a boil. (For best-tasting results, spring water is recommended.) Once the water is boiling, let it cool until the temperature reaches somewhere between 176°F. and 212°F.
- In your Kyusu, add 4 teaspoons of loose Konacha for every cup of tea you are making. (If you are making four cups of tea, you will need to put 16 teaspoons of Konacha into the Kyusu.)
- When the water reaches the correct temperature, pour it into the Japanese teapot over the tea leaves. Cover the teapot with its lid and let the leaf bits steep for 30 seconds.
- After the short steeping time, immediately pour the cups of tea and enjoy!
Steeping More Than Once
Unlike other green teas where you can steep the leaves up to four different times, Konacha can only be used for one brew. Since it is comprised of small leaf and bud crumbles and powder, all of the flavor will be used up during the first infusion. If you were to strain out the tea leaves and try to use them a second time, the hot beverage would be very weak and almost flavorless.
Cooking with Konacha
Due to its intense flavor and fine consistency, Konacha is often used in cooking. Whether used as an addition to rice balls or used as a topping on toast, the dried Konacha leaves make a great addition to various food options.
Nutrition Facts & Caffeine
Konacha tea has a low nutritional value. In one cup of this green tea, there are zero calories, carbs, proteins, and fats. When it comes to the caffeine content, this amount can vary depending on the age of the tea leaves, how the leaves were grown and harvested, and how the tea is brewed.
Made from broken Sencha and Gyokuro tea, the caffeine content in one serving of Konacha can range. In general, one serving of Sencha contains between 20-30 mg of caffeine, whereas one serving of Gyokuro contains anywhere from 120-140 mg of caffeine. It can be determined that the blend of Konacha tea is in direct correlation to how much caffeine is in one cup of this green tea variety.
Konacha contains vitamin E and minerals like copper, zinc, and magnesium. Like other green teas, it is believed that Konacha tea helps boost the immune system, strengthens cognitive function, and maintains a healthy metabolism. Although it has not been proven, people also rely on this tea to help combat cavities, obesity, and high cholesterol.
Konacha Green Tea
Best known for its intense and powerful grassy flavor, bitter aroma, and vibrant green color, Konacha tea is widely consumed. Often used in restaurants to complement the sushi-eating experience, it is also cheaper than other green teas, and quicker to brew.
Although it is not a powder, dried Konacha tea is made up of fine leaves and buds that have been broken as a result of manufacturing Sencha and Gyokuro teas. This powder-like consistency ultimately plays a role in how strong the flavor is. It also makes this type of tea useful for only one brew.
Even though it is made from leaf and bud debris, it is produced from high-quality tea leaves. This makes Konacha tea both cost-effective and a great “bang for your buck.” Available in both tea bags and loose, it is easy to brew and enjoy in the comfort of your home.