Hojicha is a type of Japanese green tea that includes roasting of the leaves during production. The name hojicha comes from hoji (焙じ), meaning roasting, and cha (茶), meaning tea.
The defining features of hojicha are an earthy roasted aroma, a beautiful amber color, and a clean refreshing aftertaste. By roasting the leaves with high heat until turning reddish brown, they develop a unique and distinctive flavor and aroma. Roasting also helps to eliminate the bitterness typically present in green tea. As a mild tea with an appealing aroma, hojicha is a great for all ages; therefore, become popular daily drinking tea in Japan and recently in abroad.
How Hojicha Differs from Sencha Green Tea
Earthy roasted aroma and amber color
Clean refreshing aftertaste
Mild flavor and lower caffeine
The History of Hojicha
Relative to the other teas of the world, the history of hojicha is quite new, with production beginning after the dawn of the 20th century. In those days, keeping tea fresh was a real challenge without equipment like large-size refrigerators or vacuum packaging machines. One day, when a tea dealer took his surplus green tea to Kyoto University in search of advice, he was recommended to try re-drying and roasting the tea. Upon trying this method, he found the tea had a pleasant roasted aroma and mild soothing flavor. Soon after, hojicha began spreading throughout Japan as it gained popularity and recognition as a new variety of green tea.
Tea Leaves & Preparation
Hojicha is produced from the same plant as other green teas, an evergreen tea plant in the Camellia genus of the Theaceae family. Tea cultivated in highlands without any shield from direct sunlight (often applied for gyokuro tea or refined green tea) is particularly well suited for making hojicha, since these tea leaves will give a more distinct and refreshing aroma when roasted.
The freshly harvested tea leaves are first steamed, as are other green teas. Incidentally, if the leaves undergo fermentation without steaming, they become black tea or oolong tea.
There are two separate techniques of steaming; asamushi, or light steaming, which is a shorter process, and fukamushi or deep steaming, a longer process of slowly steaming. The asamushi light-steaming method is more traditional and is also preferred for hojicha since it preserves more of the fresh green tea scent, which is perfect for producing the rich aroma that defines hojicha.
Roasting - The Key of Quality Hojicha
After steaming, the tea leaves will undergo roasting, which is the most important process in making hojicha. However, the water content may not be evenly distributed between the surface and inner areas of freshly harvested and steamed tea leaves, which can result in tea with a harsh or bitter taste before roasting. So it's also essential for quality hojicha production to give careful attention ensuring that even moisture distribution is achieved.
Our roasting process also involves one of two methods, either low-heat or high-heat roasting. We carefully determine the best roasting conditions according to the water content of the leaves. In low-heat roasting, tea develops a deep rich aroma while retaining the fresh flavor of green tea with a hint of umami and bitterness. High-heat roasting, on the other hand, produces tea with a clear, smooth aroma and a refreshing aftertaste.
Additionally, we make use of both light and deep roasting processes to craft a variety of hocjiha flavors and aromas.