Hojicha (also: “Hōjicha” oder „Houjicha“, jap. 焙じ茶, engl. “roasted tea”) is an unshaded Bancha tea that is picked right after the first Sencha harvest in June. As a particularity, Hojicha tea is being subjected to an intensive roasting after its processing to a green tea. Our Hojicha Kiniro (“kiniro” = gold color) comes from the region of Wazuka, located in central Japan near the cities Kyoto and Osaka. The teas plants, from which this Hōjicha is is picked, are so-called “Ujicha” tea plants, direct descendants of the first tea bushes ever planted in Japan. The history of these tea bushes goes back to the legendary Buddhist monk and Zen master Esai, who in the late 12th century brought the seeds for these plants from China and planted them in Uji, not far from Wazuka. From there, the cultivation of the tea plant also spread to other centers within the country, while the tea culture developing in parallel spread over all of Japan. The successful cultivation of high quality tea is among others depending on the right climate. The watery regions of Uji and Wazuka with their mild temperatures are optimally suited for this.
Unshaded means, that the tea gardens, where this Hojicha is picked from are exposed to full sunlight before the harvest, unlike Kabusecha or Gyokuro teas, for which the tea plants are half (Kabusecha) or wholly (Gyokuro) shaded for several weeks before the picking. For best taste and highest possible freshness, the freshly harvested tea leaves are steamed, cooled, rolled and dried according to the characteristic Japanese green tea processing method, before the resulting Bancha green tea is additionally subjected to a special roasting process. We procure this Genmaicha tea directly from the poducer’s farm in Japan, which is health and environment-friendly certified according to strict Japanese standards, so that active ingredients, aroma and flavoring substances of the tea are preserved all the way from production right up to your cup.
The intensive roasting of the ready processed Bancha green tea that gives Hojicha (= roasted tea) its name results once in the aromatic blend of roast aromas, woods and moist autumn leaves fragrances exuded by the dry tea leaves, their magnificent golden shimmering color (“kiniro”) as well as the fresh-spicy and sweet roast taste of the clear, amber color cup, and secondly is responsible for the decaffeination of the tea, which is therefore often also referred to as an “evening tea” or “baby tea”. Hojicha is enjoyed either hot or cold and in Japan is served throughout the day and also often with meals.
Preparation: Dose Hojicha Kiniro tea leaves into the teapot, pour over with water tempered according to below recommendation, let infuse and pour out into previously prepared drinking or tea cups.
Water: For the preparation of Hojicha Kiniro, we recommend using as soft as possible (low lime) water of a temperature of 85°C.
Teapot: Best suitable for the preparation of Japanese Sencha teas are clay teapots (alternatively Japanese Kyusu or Chinese style teapot), but you will achieve comparably desirable results using a China bone or a glass teapot.
Dosage: While in Japan there’s a tendency to much higher dosages prevailing, a dosage of 4g tea leaves on 200ml water in our experience appears to be entirely adequate as an initial approach to the exploration of one’s own taste and dosaging preferences. The higher the dosage, the more intensive both color and taste of the resulting green tea will be.
Infusion period: with an infusion period fo 2 minutes for a first infusion and approximately equally long follow-up steeps, Hojicha Kiniro will produce 2-3 highly delicious infusions.
Tea cups: In Japan, due to its low caffeine content, Hojicha tea is enjoyed in medium to larger-sized teacups (“Chawan” or “Yunomi”), whose style and prefered size can be adapted to actual requirements, i.e. situation and mood.
For more information and backgrounds on Hojicha and other characteristic Japanese teas, please also read our pertinent article in Siam Tea Blog, providing an overview of Japan’s tea world, culture and history in a comprehensive yet understandable manner: