Monday, July 4, 2016

Totem Tea, Kuwacha Mulberry Leaf

Totem Tea Description:
The deep-steamed Mulberry leaves (kuwacha) are uncannily similar to a traditional Japanese green tea like sencha or gyokuro. This uncommon tea is naturally caffeine-free and brews with a silky, vegetal profile. Like a fine Japanese green tea, it has oceanic elements with a smooth, mouthwatering umami texture.

Sample provided by Totem Tea

My Review:
It's the 4th of July. Normally Independence Day around here is hotter than the proverbial firecracker. That is how our June hit us this year. We are getting a break today as its rainy and in the mid 70's F. So to celebrate freedom, the founding of this great nation, and some bearable temperatures, I'm going to brew some tea.

My normal instinct is to grab whatever sounds highest in caffeine. This mulberry leaf, caffeine free, herbal spoke to me today. The folks at Totem Tea say on their website that they have tried similar teas from China and Thailand and they don't quite measure up to this one as it is steamed and prepared similarly to sencha or gyokuro.

Sniffing the sample I notice a pleasant grassiness accompanied by what reminds me of the chaff left over from shucking corn.

Looking at the leaf, if a tea friend had handed me this, I would just assume it was a green tea. Very similar in look and texture to the straight thin blades of sencha leaf.

I followed directions and brewed this at between 195 and 200 F for 45 seconds. This is stated to go 4 steeps. The second and later should begin at 2 minutes and add time as needed.

Pouring into a mug, two things catch my interest. First the brew is green with yellow highlights. Moving the mug away from the light it becomes a darker eerie green. That's pretty cool. Secondly, the steeped leaf morphed into this crinkly mound. It looks like frilly parsley that is very dark green like spinach. Neat. Okay so simple things amuse me.

The taste is unique. There is zero bitterness or astringency. It is smooth with almost no bite. The grassy connection to sencha is very present. There is also an ocean seaweed note, and what to me is best described as a hazelnut element. I think the seaweed/hazelnut combination is what Totem is noting as buttery umami.

We camellia sinensis folks can be quite the snob at times when it comes to herbals. Here is one that bridges the gap. It's late in the day and you want green tea but decaffeinated teas are tasteless? No problem, grab some of this leaf. Naturally caffeine free and pleasantly complex tasting. Truly it is an interesting tea.

You can find Totem Tea Mulberry Leaf here


  1. Since I am into green tea these days this looks perfect for me. Thanks for sharing it, will be getting it for myself

  2. I am a Green tea lover & I enjoy reading your blog a lot. With everyone going green, even in food choices, green tea has gained tremendous popularity across the globe. Experts opine that the best time to drink GREEN TEA is two hours before bedtime as then the caffeine should not disturb your sleep.

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