This Month's Tea - HoujichaThis Month's Tea - Houjicha

What is Houjicha?

Houjicha is smooth and mellow roasted nut flavor, which lingers nicely for a while. We would like you to rediscover the value of our Houjicha items for monthly recommendation.

The first three processing steps of Houjicha tea leaves are the same as for Sencha: 1) Steaming, 2) Drying and Crumpling, and 3) Shaping. But to make Houjicha, the tea goes through one special additional step: 4) Roasting. The smooth and mellow roasted aroma of Houjicha is created by roasted.
Like Sencha, tea leaves for Houjicha are grown with fully-flooded sunlight, so that Houjicha contains beneficial Catechin. And since Houjicha is pan-roasted, it is very low in caffeine. In Japan, Houjicha is commonly given to babies and people who are sick because it is both nourishing and low in caffeine. Besides, Houjicha is perfect for iced tea. It will cool you on a sizzling hot day.

Hibiki-an uses only the highest grade (first harvested, or pruned after harvesting Shincha) tea leaves to make all of our Houjicha items. The finished product is a fresh roasted chestnut-brown color. The leaves are only lightly roasted to maximize the essential flavor of the tea leaves. The flavor is very smooth and the aroma lingers nicely for a while.

Unfortunately many tea companies use low grade tea leaves (second harvested, third harvested, pruned in autumn, etc.) to make their Houjicha. Other Houjicha (not ours!) is roasted too strongly and becomes a dark brown color, so the flavor is smoky and not smooth at all.

Also Houjicha items are all good affordable everyday tea and are favorite beverage of tea farmers all over Japan. Like "fresh roasted" coffee, Houjicha is also most flavorful just after roasting. Needless to say, all of our Houjicha items at Hibiki-an are fresh roasted, packaged just after roasting.

Tea Color of Houjicha

Tea leaves of Houjicha

Tea leaves of Houjicha Karigane

Roasting facility

Tea leaves sending up smoke in the roasting facility

Houjicha tea leaves just completed roasting

Special Houjicha Teas: Limited / Now Available!

In Japan, Houjicha is considered a good everyday tea. It is one of the most popular everyday teas, along with Sencha. So, it has been enjoyed in various ways: brewed in Kyusu, Iced Tea, decocted (boiled), and so on. And it is usually relatively affordable and quite healthy drink which contains much Catechin and Vitamin C and only a small amount of Caffeine. Because of the low Caffeine and soothing properties, Houjicha is suitable to drink near bedtime and can be given to very young children, even babies.

We arranged two special Houjicha items, Houjicha Super Premium and Houjicha Karigane Super Premium. Each item is the limited edition of 450 packages only available this winter season.
For Houjicha Super Premium, we use only young tea sprouts and add a small quantity of stems from highest grade Matcha to create the unique and excellent smooth and mellow roasted nut aroma.
For Houjicha Karigane Super Premium, we use only stems from highest grade Sencha and add a small quantity of stems from highest grade Matcha to create the unique and excellent sweet and roasted flavor.

Both teas are brighter in color and the rich flavor goes far beyond regular Houjicha and Houjicha Karigane. You are sure to delight in the extraordinary rich roasted flavor that lingers nicely in the mouth for a while.

(visit each Special Houjicha tea page)

History of Houjicha

It is said that the origin of Houjicha is Kyo Bancha. Kyo Bancha was originally made by pruned tea leaves from the tea tree for the highest grade, hand picked Matcha and Gyokuro.
Machine trimmed tea trees are shaped into a uniform semicircle. In contrast, tea trees picked by hand grow upward naturally, as shown below. Hand picked tea trees grow to a height of 1 to 1.5m (3.28 to 4.92ft) around harvest season. Just after harvest, farmers prune around the base of the tea tree (about 40cm / 1.31ft). The pruned tea leaves and stems are steamed, dried in the sun, and then roasted. It is traditional Kyo Bancha and the origin of Houjicha. Now, Houjicha is made by roasting Sencha.
Houjicha is everyday tea for people living in Kyoto. Houjicha is enjoyed at every meal, with an afternoon snack, near bedtime, and so on. Hot brewed Houjicha warms not only the body but the heart and spirit during cold winters. And in the summer, Iced Houjicha is very cooling and refreshing.
The highest grade Houjicha, like our Houjicha Super Premium and Houjicha Karigane Super Premium, is used at Tea Ceremony schools. The highest grade Houjicha is enjoyed at special occasions to open the heart and spirit. Houjicha is an essential part of daily life for the people of Kyoto.

Machine trimmed tea trees

Hand picked tea trees

Tea leaves of traditional Kyo Bancha. The flavor is uniquely smoky.

Comparing traditional Kyo Bancha and today's Houjicha. Brewed infusion of traditional Kyo Bancha is a little more yellowish than Houjicha.

Tea leaves of today's Houjicha

Important Factors for Houjicha

Houjicha flavor depends on two important factors: geographic features of the tea farm location, and freshness.
It is said that tea farms which have specific geographic features for growing the highest grade Sencha can also grow tea leaves for excellent Houjicha. The tea farm should be located in mountain ravines, with mineral-rich soil. The misty climate, sloping hills, warm days and cool nights create the excellent flavor of Houjicha. All of our Houjicha is grown only at tea farms suitable for highest grade Sencha in the Uji region.
Freshness is also most important for Houjicha. The excellent roasted aroma diminishes with time. Houjicha usually keeps in good condition for a year or more if preserved appropriately. However, the best excellent roasted aroma of Houjicha can be enjoyed within a few months after roasting. We are constantly roasting new batches of Houjicha so that we can ship all our Houjicha teas within two weeks of the time it is roasted. With our Houjicha, you can experience the full flavor of freshly roasted tea leaves.

The misty climate, sloping hills, warm days and cool nights provide an ideal setting to grow the highest grade tea.

Morning mist at our tea farm

Only Houjicha having fresh roasted flavor is shipped from us

Smooth and mellow roasted nut flavor lingers nicely in the mouth for a while.

A Tip to Enjoy Houjicha

To enjoy Houjicha or Houjicha Karigane, there are three points to remember.
Houjicha / Houjicha Karigane is only half the weight of Sencha tea leaves; it is 50% lighter. So, please put about two times (2x) the cubical content of Houjicha or Houjicha Karigane tea leaves in the tea pot (Kyusu).
To extract the excellent nutty and smooth aroma from Houjicha, please brew the tea leaves in boiling water for a short time, 15 to 30 seconds.
Like "fresh roasted" coffee, Houjicha / Houjicha Karigane is also most flavorful just after roasting. Please purchase Houjicha packaged just after roasting. Needless to say, all of our Houjicha items at Hibiki-an are fresh roasted, specially packaged just after roasting.
All of our teas at Hibiki-an may be brewed three times with full flavor and excellent results, including our Houjicha.

(Brewing way for 2cups)
Tea leaves: 3 tablespoons (7-8g)
Water temperature: boiling water
Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
Waiting time: 15 - 30sec.

Houjicha Items: Now Available!

[Limited] Houjicha Super Premium (100g/3.53oz): US$15.00
To make this Houjicha Super Premium, we use only young sprouts. And a small amount of stems from the highest grade Matcha are added in order to create the unique noble aroma...
[Limited] Houjicha Karigane Super Premium (100g/3.53oz): US$14.00
The stems contained in this tea are usually used for Sencha Karigane, not Houjicha Karigane. Stems from the highest grade Matcha are added in order to create the unique noble aroma...
Houjicha (200g/7.06oz): US$18.00
Houjicha, also called Bancha, is made by roasting Sencha tea leaves over high heat. It is a brown tea with a toasted nutty flavor, and is low in caffeine...
Houjicha Karigane (200g/7.06oz): US$19.00
Houjicha Karigane is made from the stems of high grade tea leaves and roasted in the same way as standard Houjicha. The flavor is deeply sweet and roasted, which is quite unique among Japanese tea...
Organic Houjicha (200g/7.06oz): US$21.00
This Organic Houjicha is certified by Japanese administration. This, also called Bancha, is made by roasting Organic Sencha tea leaves over high heat. It is a brown tea with a toasted nutty flavor, and is low in caffeine...
Teabag Houjicha (5g*28 / 0.17oz*28): US$18.00
Each specially-designed nylon bag is filled with whole-leaf Houjicha, so you can enjoy the rich flavor of Houjicha in no time at all! Houjicha, also called Bancha, is made by roasting fresh green tea leaves over high heat. It is a brown tea with a toasted nutty flavor...
Genmai-Houji Tasting Set (each 100g/3.53oz x 4): US$37.00
We chose and combined four of our most unique and delightful teas to make this special set: Genmaicha, Genmaicha Matcha-iri, Houjicha, and Houjicha Karigane...

Customer Reviews of Houjicha Items

[Limited] Houjicha Super Premium
I ordered both the Houjicha Karigane Super Premium and the Houjicha Super Premium. I am delighted with both; I haven't tasted such good bancha in years. I recommend both these teas wholeheartedly.
--- Female, United States

Till now I have been concerned with high grade teas like Gyokuro, Sencha and Matcha, and have experienced their Kuradashi and Competition Grade versions. Only recently I have agreed with Hibiki's suggestion to try Houjicha Super Premium.
When spirit and mind need concentration, when they need to prepare for an important exertion, preparing a Matcha and taking care of a delicate and precious Matcha Bowl, tasting its colour, flavour and aroma, absorbing its healthy constituents, are great gifts of Japanese experience and culture. When the spirit may finally ask its supremacy on body and mind, the role of Gyokuro and Sencha and the use of a sophisticated Hohin set are suitable similar gifts.
I never thought that between this Alpha and this Omega there might be a third high level Japanese gift, until I experienced Houjicha Super Premium. It is easy to prepare without particular cares so it may be used to have as many as you like relaxing moments during your exertion, yet its sophisticated nuances of uniquely fragrant burning wood, that you perceive preparing and drinking it, last long and agreeably in your mouth, and become a continuous source of physical pleasure and help going on with your work.
--- Male, Italy

I ordered this Tea a few weeks ago and I really got to enjoy it after a few cups. Since you can brew this tea with boiling water you dont have to adjust the temperature just infuse it with boiling water count up to 30 and pour it into your teacup. Price and quality of this tea are great so if you want to try sth. special go ahead and buy this one as long as its still available.
--- Male, Germany

[Limited] Houjicha Karigane Super Premium
How I LOVE this Tea! I have been enjoying it this very snowy and cold past month immensely. I have been making 500ml, or a bit larger, pots in my glass Teapot so I can admire the unique dark color of this Green Tea- a rich, substantial broth of warm brown tinted a hint of dark ruby. It looks so especially and deliciously lovely and inviting to enjoy sitting on my Teapot warmer with the small Tea light candle flickering from underneath. I steep this in a separate porcelain or earthenware Teapot then strain it into the glass Teapot. This substantial Tea broth is amazing alone or with snacks or meals, as well as brewed cold or steaming hot. I can get definitely 3 brews out of this but usually can always get a fourth and also a light fifth brew! The taste does linger, makes my mouth water and I crave this Tea. I find this Tea to be incredibly calming and just extremely unique, it's really just a Perfect Tea for me with not only the pleasurable taste and aroma, but ease in brewing and such low caffienne! I usually brew my first 1-3 steepings hot then switch over to a light, refreshing cold-brewed version. I also enjoyed it when I've added a bit of sifted Matcha Super Premium to it, both hot and cold-brewed, just for an extra burst of flavor notes but also health benefits. A hot Teapot of this has been a very faithful companion as I've enjoyed the 2014 Olympics these past freezing Winter nights!
--- Female, United States

Houjicha Karigane Super Premium is the perfect hot tea for winter and early spring. It's very hearty and warming. After I've been outside shoveling snow, all I want is a steaming hot cup of this tea. The blend of roasted stems and twigs from high quality Sencha and Matcha create an extremely rich and complex flavor like roasted grains, coffee, and black tea. You'll find deep earthy undertones of oak wood and autumn leaves and top notes of sweet brown sugar and green grass. Overall, it's a very complex tea, perfect for those who like to experiment with new flavors and styles of tea. If this is your first time to try Japanese green tea, I suggest Hibiki-an's Sencha. If you have never tried Houjicha, I suggest Hibiki-an's Houjicha (Bancha). But if you have been drinking tea for a while and want something really special and unique, I definitely suggest this tea, along with their Houjicha Super Premium.
--- Female, United States

Interesting and rather exotic tea which I have not tried out before. Thus, I followed the excellent instructions on the package. The tea has a strong aroma of roasted tea, and the teaste is mild without any traces of bitterness. For me not being much of a darker tea drinker, I really enjoyed the Organic Houijicha. Autumn being here already, this tea will have its place for those chilly and darker days.
--- Male, Sweden

Fantastic Bancha tea! Beautiful nutty and chocolate flavour with wonderful smoky taste. For educated tea drinkers who enjoy stronger taste green teas. Thank you so much Hibiki-an!
--- Male, United Kingdom

Recently I tried for the first time Houjicha (Bancha) which gave great satisfaction and, despite the low caffeine, is a wonderful energy-giving tea like nothing else I ever tasted. Yet another fine product from the wonderful Hibiki-an people. And of course as a bonus, the gift of the matcha karigane pinnacle to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the firm prompts one to contemplate the many future opportunities to savor the delightful products of this magnificent company.
--- Male, United States

Houjicha Karigane
i was looking for this specific tea for a while after my local tea shop stopped selling it.
roasted twig tea is the only tea i truly enjoy because of it's wonderful aroma and nice taste. i drink it in summer instead of coffee because of the light texture it has
--- Female, Israel

All you houjicha lovers out there - I can recommend you this Houjicha Karigane with confidence! Actually I love this tea so much that I can't go back even to the very flavourful Houjicha of Hibiki-An.
Although I'm a gyokuro lover, this is my favourite tea in cold autumn and winter evenings. It produces a fascinating liquor even when very hot water is used. It is quite hard to make a bad cup of tea even on those days one is tired and adjusting the water temperature adequately slips out of the mind. A very hearty tea, it is very forgiving (even when I forgot to take out the drainer upon receiving a phone call and the tea steeped for 4-5 mins, the taste was still not bitter or astringent). Delicious and nutty in flavour as it is a houjicha variety, but this tea is sweeter, mellower, and more complex. It is not overwhelmingly roasty. Plus, it has a very calming and centering effect after being consumed.
I also have to add that it is a favourite among my guests as some of them are careful not to drink caffeinated teas in the evening. As mentioned in the description, it is a very low caffeine tea, and, who doesn't like a mellow hot tea on a cold night to accompany a nice chat or a good book? This tea received compliments over and over again from my guests.
Thank you Hibiki-An for providing such high quality teas!
--- Female, Canada

I received this as part of the Karigane tasting set. This is a great tea for those who like a really roasted and flavorful tea. I've got this at my desk at work and drink it throughout the day. It's really hard to over-brew this tea so it works great for this environment where I get easily distracted. One time I got pulled into a brief meeting and the tea must have been brewing for at least 5-10 minutes, well over the recomended 15-45 second recomended time, and it was still yummy. The flavor reminds me of roasted hazelnuts. I will definately be buying more of this.
--- Female, United States

Organic Houjicha
This is perfect Houjicha and bears no comparison to the old dusty non organic packets I was used to buying in England. It is sweet and nutty and can be drunk at any time of the day or evening. As with all Hibiki an products, it is the best quality one can buy, always beautifully packed and sold with impeccable customer service. I've been buying from Atsushi Yasui San for a number of years and I always look forward to receiving my latest order.
--- Male, United Kingdom

This is a perfect morning and afternoon tea with a wonderful aroma and pleasant taste, just a distant hint the pungent, making it a genuine pleasure. Being very sensitive to caffeine, I find houjicha at a satisfying level of stimulation. I wake up looking forward to it.
--- Male, United States

This Organic Houjicha immediately has become my favorite after work/evening tea. Very harmonious, lightly smoky taste. My second tea from Hibiki-an and again outstanding quality.
--- Female, Austria

Teabag Houjicha
I purchased this as part of a tea bag tasting set. I must admit that I did not care for the roasted taste when I brewed this tea hot. But when I tried this tea with cold brewing method, I loved the wonderful nutty, slightly sweet and smoky taste of the iced tea. So refreshing and different from the usual commercially available iced teas. Try it, it is so good!
--- Female, United States

This Houjicha is just fantastic, it's my first purchase from Hibiki-an, and I have to say it was a good choice. I tried the Houjicha because I have never tried this style of tea before, and I must say I was pleasently pleased by the arouma and the taste of this brand of tea. I will soon be purchasing some Macha tea as well as I am making Japanese tea bowls in my begining ceramics class and can't wait to drink these fantastic teas from my own hand-made tea bowls... Hibiki-an is number one in my book...
--- Male, United States

First of all, I find the design of the teabags is really cute and functional. When I first drank this tea, I was amazed by the full, round flavour of it. I had not expected such quality at that price.
Full marks, very recommendable!
--- Male, Switzerland