De-mono : kuki-cha, me-cha, kona-cha

In the Japanese tea nothing is lost!

De-mono could mean “sorted stuff” … poor translation.
In the Japanese tea industry we call for de-mono the elements that, during the finishing phase of sencha or gyokuro (where “ara-cha” 荒茶 called raw material is process to a finished product, in most of the case by wholesalers, see sencha for details), are sorted from what we call “hon-cha” (“main tea”, which is sencha, gyokuro, etc that will be packed and sale to the final users). But it is not for all waste will be used to manufacture other finished products.

If we except stuffs which are not tea, there are 3 type of “de-mono” that are sorted:
The me-cha 芽茶 the kuki-cha 茎 茶 and the Kona-cha 粉 茶.
Obviously, the more ara-cha is of good quality, the more these de-mono are also of good quality.
Kuki-cha
茎茶
Kuki-cha is composed of stems sorted in the manufacture of a Japanese green tea.
The liquor is a bright light green, and emits a characteristic mellow aroma. These tea have a very refreshing flavor.
Kuki-cha made from stems sorted from gyokuro is usually called Karigane 雁 が 音, sometimes, taka no tsume 鷹 の 爪 (hawk claws). Shiraori 白 折 often designate a kuki-cha obtained from high grade sencha stems.

Kuki-cha is without a doubt the most interesting de-mono. Especially high grade ones could offer very deep and complex aromas, without astringency.

Also, it’s very simple to made at home very good hôji-cha by roasting kuki-cha.

P1240095

Kuki-cha and hoji-cha made from the first one

With cheap kuki-cha, one can use very hot water with 3 or 4g of tea, for less than 1 minute. Difficult to expect a 2nd brew.

But with high grade kuki-cha, let’s use 80°C water, with 4 g of tea in 70-80ml of water, 1 minute. It’s possible to obtain a very good second brew.

In the case of karigane (gyokuro kuki-cha), one should use warmer water, about 60-65°C.

Me-cha
芽茶
Me 芽 means a young leaf shoot (in the case of the tea plant), the “tip” in English for those familiar with black tea. Thus, the me-cha is composed of small pieces of tender shoots, torn during the manufacturing phase of ara-cha.

Although these names are uncommon, sometimes we find jin 尽 or jinko 真 粉 to designate me-cha.

The liquor obtained with this Japanese green tea is dark and deep green.
The me-cha has a strong, astringent taste with deep and fresh scent. It is possible to perform two infusions.

– 2 grams of tea per person
– 70 cc of water per person
– Water at 80 ° C (in the case of me-cha from gyokuro, 60-70 ° C to enjoy the characteristic umami flavor of it)
– Infusion time: 30 to 40 seconds (be careful with this parameter because of the astringency !)

Kona-cha
粉茶
It’s a Japanese green tea compound of very thin pieces of leaves, almost powder form (“kona” means powder).

When sorting sencha, gyokuro or other type of Japanese tea, ara-cha is sieved. There is different sieve range, which are designated by numbers. This number indicates the number of holes over a length of 1 sun (一寸), that is, 3.03 cm. Thus, a No. 5 passes leaves larger than a sieve No. 60 (which is the most small), for example.

Can be sold as kona-cha leaf pieces not passing through a No. 30 screen. Finer pieces, ie passing through a No. 30 will be used in the manufacture of tea bag paper (they are too thin for nylon bags, it can be inferred that a Japanese tea nylon tea bag will be less bad than a paper bag tea).
Finally, the powder which can even pass through a No. 60 is called doro-kona 泥 粉 (“muddy powder”), and if it will not be used for bags, and will not be sold, it will not be cast so far. It will be used to extract catechin and caffeine.

The kona-cha is (actually “was”, because most of sushi restaurant are now using instant tea) often served in the sushi restaurant, and is also used for the production of green tea bag.
Its liquor is dark green, disturbed by the powder in suspension. Its taste is strong.
– 3 grams per 100 cc of boiling water. To be prepared in a kind of woven bamboo strainer directly into each cup. Almost instant infusion. Be sure to shake the strainer to the last drop.

There are obviously kona-cha sorted from gyokuro, more mellow than usual kona-cha, it could be let a few time brewed in cold water.

 

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