Kuding Tea? The Healthiest Bitter Tea Around?
Kuding cha has a reputation for being the most bitter tea you can find. I first discovered Kuding Cha, aka Bitter Nail Tea, when living in Japan. Here’s how I discovered Kuding Cha and more on how to brew it and where to buy it.
Living in Asia can easily turn you into a tea drinker. Growing up in the South, everyone in my family drank sweet tea except for me. I absolutely hated the taste of it. When I lived in England, I simply couldn’t get myself to drink English breakfast tea.
And then I moved to Japan and traveled to Taiwan and to China and fell in love with Chinese teahouses and the taste of the Far East. Green tea and Jasmine tea quickly became my tea of choice, soon followed by Chai and Matcha. Asian tea typically has a much stronger flavor, a more bitter flavor that’s absolutely the opposite of the kind of sweet tea Southerners love to drink.
I’m generally very sensitive to caffeine so that’s how I discovered Kuding tea. One afternoon, I was out with my friend at an authentic Chinese teahouse in Yokohama, Japan – the kind of place made of dark wooden floorboards, narrated in the background with Chinese traditional string music, hidden two floors off the street. By all accounts of my senses, we might as well have been in some remote province of Mainland China.
I asked the waitress for a recommendation for a caffeine-free tea and she pointed to a tea on the menu called “Bitter Nail Tea.” She made a face and said it was very bitter, that she couldn’t drink it. But, she did say it was one of the healthiest teas you can ever drink. I felt immediately intrigued and so I had to try it.
The waitress brought out my Kuding tea in a tall, clear glass where I could see all the bitter nails unraveling at the bottom. By the time I first took my first sip, the tea was a darker yellow color. I’d never tasted anything like it before. It was terribly bitter and yet I loved it.
My Japanese friend then took a sip to try it for the first time and she actually spit it out. It was the first and only time in five years that I ever heard her say the word ‘fuck’ – she’s one of those people who just doesn’t ever swear. Japanese people tend to have extremely mild tastebuds and she definitely couldn’t handle the flavor.
Afterward, I purchased a bag of nails for my own to take home, and ever since then, Kuding Tea has been a part of my life.
Brewing Kuding Tea
Brewing Kuding Tea is actually really easy but if you burn the tea, then it really does become undrinkable. I typically brew between 2 and 3 needles per about 1.5 cups for extra dark. Check this out for more on how to brew Kuding Tea.
Where to Buy Kuding Cha
When I lived in Japan, it was easy to find in Chinatown Yokohama. But today, I have to order it online because I haven’t found anywhere in Boston that sells it. Teasenz.com is a good spot.
Benefits of Drinking Kuding Tea
This tea is supposed to be really good with diabetes and regulating your blood sugar and cholesterol. It’s also supposed to be detoxifying as well as having a lot of antioxidants. Chinese medicine often uses herbs such as Kuding to treat or relieve certain symptoms such as a headache or promote weight loss by activating your digestion. I can certainly believe it has antibacterial properties at the very least.