I was told that Kumazasa (Sasa veitchii) is a specialty of Hokkaido, where it is naturally grown. The kanji characters 熊笹 literally mean ‘bear’s bamboo leaves’ and no surprise it is a favourite among bears before they head into hibernation.
The leaves are also known for its anti-bacterial properties, hence why they are commonly used in wrapping food such as chimaki and dango.
The tea, or more accurately tisane, itself is sold in a wide variety of forms from loose leaf to granulated extract. During my trip to Hokkaido earlier this year, I noticed kumazasa canned drinks and teabags.
I bought the latter form in Shiraoi, a small town on the southern coast, a little more than an hour from Sapporo by rail.
The package I bought was actually produced by a local bakery shop called Nanakamado, which is popular for its pastries. The tea is roasted on-site…
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