Hojicha (also romanized as “houjicha”) is a roasted green tea, with a taste that compliments both sweet and savory foods. In most cases, it is produced using bancha leaves, which means along with bancha, hojicha makes a wonderful everyday tea. It became common in the 1920s in Kyoto. During this time, tea merchants started to roast leaves over charcoal. The smell of this was very attractive to many people, so it became popular, even though the tea is brown unlike other green teas (such as sencha or matcha). Hojicha can be compared to coffee in the sense that the aroma and flavor are roasted. This is what makes hojicha so flexible. It can be drunk with traditional meals of raw fish (sashimi), or could be enjoyed with some toast for breakfast.
Since hojicha is generally made from bancha leaves, it is harvested later in the season, after the first or second cultivations of sencha. It can also be made from earlier harvested sencha leaves that did not make the cut. The leaves are roasted at a high temperature, and the roasting process decaffeinates the leaves, so hojicha is a good low-caffeine option for those who do not wish to intake much caffeine, and also for children. After the cultivation and roasting, the tea leaves will be a reddish-brown color.
How to Brew
The taste of hojicha should be nutty and earthy. Hojicha can be steeped in a variety of ways, but many people agree that using a thicker pot and cup is best to keep the tea warm. Since hojicha has been pre-roasted it is light, so you can probably use some more tea leaves when making a cup. If you brew hojicha for a shorter time, the taste will be lighter and fresher. If you brew for a longer time, the taste will become nuttier and deeper. We recommend looking up the proper brew times and temperatures based on the taste that you are going for.
As mentioned before, hojicha is very low in caffeine. This makes it great for children, the elderly, and even for an evening beverage. Also, as with other green teas, hojicha is a very good source of antioxidants. It may also be effective in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.