Shiraore belongs to the category of “twig tea” (kukicha), that is, green tea made with parts of the tea plant that is not used for making regular green tea such as sencha or gyokuro. For making shiraore, tea producers blend together stems, stalks and twigs, coming from the production of gyokuro.
As a result, it is the best kind of kukicha in terms of quality. Shiraore is appreciated for its unique nutty and sweet flavor and aroma. Its sweetness comes from its high contents in theanine, which is produced in the roots of the tea tree and then distributed to the leaves.
Because gyokuro is shaded to avoid loss of theanine due to sunlight, the theanine contents are even higher in shiraore. As it is naturally very low in caffeine, this tea is not bitter but also well suited for children (straight or mixed with juice) or before going to sleep. Shiraore is another specialty of Kyushu island.
In other regions of Japan, this type of tea is also named “Kukicha”(茎茶, twig tea) or “Karigane” (雁が音, wild goose) in Kyoto.