Japanese teas are unique in that makers remove the leaf's stem as part of the crafting process; in comparison, high quality Chinese and Taiwanese teas will leave the stem and brew it as part of the tea. The reason is purely for aesthetics, as Japanese tea grading considers not only flavor but also appearance—the highest quality teas appear a uniform, deep green. In the final stages of steaming, rolling, and drying the leaves, the tea stems are removed and sorted out using static electricity. Rather than discarding the stems, tea producers blend them into their own tea, often mixing different leaf varietals to craft a sweet, naturally viscous profile. Kukicha is considered a humble tea, yet it is one of my favorites for brewing a refreshing crowd-pleaser. The kukicha in Tekuno's collection is exceptionally forgiving, brewing sweet and rich at most temperatures. It also makes a naturally sweet cold brew.