This 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
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...