Health Benefits of Tartary Buckwheat Tea (Soba-Cha)
There are two main types of buckwheat tea: herbal infusion made by steeping buckwheat leaves in hot water and soba-cha tea made by infusing roasted kernels or hulls of buckwheat in hot water. While buckwheat leaf tea may cause phototoxicity if consumed in extremely large amounts (see Are Buckwheat Leaves Edible or Poisonous?), side effects associated with the consumption of buckwheat kernel tea are rare.
In fact, in Japan, Korea and China where roasted buckwheat kernel tea, or soba-cha, has been consumed for centuries, people have been touting the extraordinary health benefits of this caffeine-free drink. Health benefits associated with drinking buckwheat tea range from improved circulation and prevention of varicose veins to cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. Here's the full scoop, plus tips on where to buy buckwheat tea:
Buckwheat Tea is Caffeine-Free
By now, everyone knows that green tea is good for you, largely due to its high concentration of antioxidants. However, if you're trying to cut down on caffeine in your diet, or if you're following a low-oxalate diet such The Kidney Stone Avoidance Diet, you may have to look for alternatives to green tea.
While buckwheat hull tea does not beat green tea in terms of antioxidant power (as demonstrated by a Polish study published in the International Journal of Food Properties), it nevertheless provides plenty of antioxidants, including rutin and vitexin. Rutin, in particular, has been credited with a number of health benefits, including improved blood flow and prevention of varicose veins and leg edema. It may also help improve metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and polycystic syndrome (PCOS).
Tartary Buckwheat is Particularly Rich in Rutin
If you're looking to increase your dietary intake of rutin, look for tartary buckwheat when you go shopping for this specialty tea. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that tartary buckwheat seeds contained much more rutin (about 0.8-1.7% of dry weight) than common buckwheat seeds (0.01% of dry weight). Furthermore, tartary buckwheat was found to contain some quercetin, yet another important flavonoid, while common buckwheat contained no quercetin.
Where to Buy Buckwheat Tea
If you live in the US, look for roasted buckwheat, also known as kasha, in the rice and grains section of your local grocery store. Some specialty stores and Asian markets also stock roasted buckwheat in tea bags. Or if you like the convenience of online shopping, check out the impressive range of buckwheat teas on Amazon.com. Struggling to find buckwheat tea in the UK? Amazon.co.uk sells roasted buckwheat, or kasha, here.
1. Danuta Zielinskaa, Dorota Szawara-Nowakb and Henryk Zielinskib (2013). Antioxidative and Anti-Glycation Activity of Buckwheat Hull Tea Infusion. International Journal of Food Properties, 16(1), 228-239.
2. N. Ihme, H. Kiesewetter, F. Jung, et al (1996). Leg oedema protection from a buckwheat herb tea in patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 50(6), 443-447.
3. Nina Fabjan, Janko Rode, Iztok Joze Kosir et el (2003). Tartary Buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn.) as a Source of Dietary Rutin and Quercitrin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(22), 6452-6455.