111 Days of Herbal Tea - Day 42, Kuding Needles

kuding needle and tea
Photo Credits to Allison Joseph

Dear Gentle Reader,

You have traveled by my side for over a month — long enough to realize that you are, indeed, serious about tea. Your time has come, then, to meet the masters of tea. Dress simply for this honorable occasion. We are going to the first traditional Chinese teahouse in the United States to acquire a taste for Kuding. The Imperial Tea Court in Berkeley, California, is where we’ll learn the way of tea.

Exit the simple elegance of the teahouse through the wooden arch, and feel your energies adjust to the balance in the zen garden. Ease into the moment. Our Kuding tea will arrive when it arrives, as everything is as it should be right now.

Photo Credits to Imperial Tea Court of Berkeley, California

Make the most of your first taste of Kuding. You may expect it to rise up to its name with invigorating vividness. The Chinese symbol for “Ku” means “bitterness”, and the symbol for “ding” means “spike.” Kuding leaves are traditionally twisted together to resemble long needles. The striking bitterness will strengthen your character, and leave you with the same sweet undertone at the end.

Kuding’s robust notes will color your tea with longevity, thanks to its many health benefits:

  • Boost skin health
  • Improve hair health
  • Support the liver
  • Prevent and control diabetes
  • Reduce bad cholesterol
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Enhance fertility
  • Improve circulation
  • Clear the respiratory channels
  • Support the immune system
  • Soothe nerves
  • Improve focus
  • Detoxify the body
  • Invigorate digestion
  • Quench thirst
  • Treat red eyes
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Stop a headache (1)

It might take your palate a few attempts before you truly enjoy the delicacy of Kuding leaves. That is part of the beautiful ritual of this tea — you may watch the leaves unfurl one brew after another, until the flavor weakens.

For medicine or pleasure, keep this traditional Kuding tea recipe through the test of time:

2 Kuding needles

1 1/4 cup of water

  1. Bring water to a rolling boil
  2. Swish 1/4 cup of the water in a separate kettle, then discard the water
  3. Place the Kuding leaves in the warmed kettle
  4. Pour the rest of the water in the kettle
  5. Steep for 2 minutes
  6. Serve warm
  7. Brew the same Kuding leaves until the flavor weakens, increasing the steeping time by 2 minutes for each brew.

To the way of life,

Valeria Paz

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Li, Li et al. “The large-leaved Kudingcha (Ilex latifolia Thunb and Ilex kudingcha C.J. Tseng): a traditional Chinese tea with plentiful secondary metabolites and potential biological activities.” Journal of natural medicines vol. 67,3 (2013): 425–37. doi:10.1007/s11418–013–0758-z



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