Updated: Jun 28, 2020
Hojicha is a unique type of Japanese green tea. It may not look like green tea because of its brownish hue. Moreover, its flavour and preparation method are also different from typical green teas. In fact, in the Japanese language, "hoji" means roast, and "cha" means tea. Hojicha refers to any roasted Japanese green tea. Varied by the type of tea used and the parts of the plant processed, Hojicha in an assortment of types and grades are available. Hojicha is reddish-brown because of the way it is processed. During the roasting process, its bitterness is removed. The result of roasting produces Hojicha's distinct sweet flavour, which is commonly associated with roasted nuts or warm caramel. In the same way, Hojicha loses most of its caffeine content in the process - it is nearly caffeine free! This tea is perfect for those who are caffeine sensitive or want to enjoy tea in the evening.
ORIGIN Hojicha originated in the 1920s, in Kyoto. Waste prevention has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, because Japan existed as an island with limited resources. A tea merchant experimented with making tea from the leftover leaves twigs and stems by roasting them. After this satisfying experiment, the tea merchant succeeded in making Hojicha. Its appealing aroma and enjoyable flavour became the reasons for its popularity. Shortly after, tea shops all over Japan began to attract customers with the deep smoky smell and sweet taste of Hojicha. Till this day, this tea is still in high demand with growing attention in the spotlight.
CULTIVATION Plants are grown in open fields and are exposed to sunlight in all stages of their life cycle of rapid growth. The first harvesting, known as sencha, is extracted from the upper shoots. The other collection, bancha, is extracted from the lower leaves. Bancha includes Hojicha and some other common Japanese teas. These lower leaves are more abundant and coarse than the upper ones. Hachijuhachiya is marked as year's first tea picking day, allocated on the 88th day of Spring, according to the Japanese calendar. This date is equivalent to the time in early May. Sencha and bancha leaves are harvested together and sorted based on their size and shape afterwards.
PROCESSING Hojicha uses mostly lower-grade tea leaves for production; therefore, it is not as costly as Matcha. Its earthy aroma is also more attractive as compared to the grass-like aroma of other green teas. Hojicha is prepared from assorted parts of the plant: whole leaves, pieces of leaves, stems, and veins of plants. After the first harvest of green tea leaves, sencha, or in some cases after the second harvest, the leftover leaves, stem, and twigs are used to prepare Hojicha. The leaves are steamed to stop the oxidation occurring inside them. Cooking is done within 12-20 hours of harvesting. The steaming process is quite short and lasts up to 15- 20 seconds. At this stage, the nutritional components are retained inside the tea. Later, the parts of the plant are dried using the rolling method, which releases the flavour component of tea. Finally, the parts are roasted in a porcelain pot at about 200 Celsius, and then cooled down quickly. This process decreases the amount of catechin and caffeine in the leaves regardless of the tea type, making it less astringent and bitter. This step also makes the tea more light and soothing in taste. During the roasting process, there are some chemical changes inside the tea leaves, reducing the caffeine. If Hojicha is made from stem and veins i.e. Kuki Hojicha, it has even less caffeine because caffeine is typically found in the leaves.
HOJICHA LOOSE LEAF, HOJICHA TEA BAG OR HOJICHA POWDER ? Depending on the use and the taste profile you'd like to achieve, Hojicha is available in the market as whole leaves and powder form.
LOOSE LEAF HOJICHA For iced tea or drinking on its own, we recommend steeping Hojicha as whole leaf if you have the time. In this way, there is a more complicated flavour profile, and you can enjoy its original taste and take advantage of the tea's maximum benefits.
• TASTE PROFILE: slightly sweet and smoky • TIME: it has a longer brewing time compared to the powder form • BEST USED FOR: cold brew, iced tea
GROUNDED TEA LEAVES (DELUXE TEA BAG)
At Teaspoons & Co., we offer Hojicha Deluxe Tea Bags. Hojicha whole leaves are grounded up into very fine tea leaves. There is 12 grams of pre-measured, prepacked Hojicha leaves per tea bag. Hojicha in this flavour-packed tea bag is perfect for milk teas since the fine leaves promote rapid diffusion and effective flavour release. If you enjoy bold tasting teas, you must try our Deluxe Hojicha Tea Bags. HOJICHA POWDER Using our Hojicha powder is the simplest and quickest way to enjoy the pleasant aroma and sweet taste of Hojicha. This is the best option if you want to enjoy a cup of tea during busy office hours or in any tiring travel. TASTE PROFILE: creamy, nutty, lighter in flavour TIME: instant brewing time, Hojicha powder dissolves quickly in hot water BEST USED FOR: tea-infused baked goods (pastries, bread), on-the-go milk tea