Kukicha tea is made from the stems, stalks and twigs of tea leaves that are roasted over an open fire. Composed of parts of the tea plant that are typically discarded in other tea blends, it tastes woodsy, like the fruits of gathering herbs and leaves from the forest floor. There’s a subtlety to this tea, it doesn’t pack a punch like lapsong souchong, but it has similar roots without the heady smokiness. Some varieties even have a creamy texture with hints of chocolate and is made in to drinks for children who’ve wandered out in to the cold for too long…
Kukicha seemed like the perfect pairing for Leigh Bardugo’s novella, The Witch of Duva, a loose retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in the world of the marvelous Shadow and Bone. After immersing myself in Bardugo’s debut novel, I was intrigued to read a folk tale that she had created in the fantastical world of the Grisha, but takes place in a poor peasant town on the fringe of civilization, where “dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.”
The story follows Nadya, a young girl who finds her world falling apart, with a new stepmother who seems determined to get rid of her. She is sent out to the woods where it is rumored a witch has been stealing girls, and is mystified at what she discovers there. Bardugo’s writing is lyrical and haunting. It made me want to cozy up with an earthy cup of kukicha to warm my palms, as her words gave me the chills.
You can read The Witch of Duva online at tor.com