Ashikita Kamairicha Hojicha (芦北町釜炒り茶焙じ茶) is a comforting roasted Japanese green tea from Kajihara Tea Farm located in Ashikita District of Kumamoto Prefecture. Run to organic standards, this tea garden specialises in producing kamairicha and wakocha teas. We source this tea direct from the grower, Mr Toshihiro Kajihara. The current batch is from summer 2020 harvest.
Hōjicha (焙じ茶 / ほうじ茎), often also spelled Houjicha, was first produced in Kyoto in the 1920’s. The tea follows normal green tea processing but at the final stages it is exposed to high temperature, followed by a quick cooling phase. This imparts a characteristic roasted profile, at the same time lowering caffeine and catechin content. As catechin is responsible for astringency in tea, this results in a much mellower, non-astringent flavour that is hugely appealing.
This Hojicha is also made from leaves that were initially processed as kamairicha (釜炒り茶), or ‘pan-fried tea’. This results in a flavour profile that is more balanced with sweeter and lighter green notes. Japanese green teas are normally steamed, a type of processing that imparts a distinctively pronounced grassy and savoury flavour. Less than 5% of current Japan’s tea output is within the pan-fried category! Consequently the vast majority of Hōjicha teas are made from steamed leaves that are then roasted. This Hojicha is made from pan-fried leaves and then undergoes further roasting. This means that the combination of pan-frying and roasting leads to a particularly balanced and smooth tea!
This tea is made from a blend of various cultivars that are grown by Kajihara-san. As it is made from kamairicha, the size of the leaf generally is a bit bigger but the dry leaf also has a good amount of stalks and leaf stems mixed in. This does contribute to balance the flavour as well as add some sweetness. When brewed, the roasted aroma is captivating but it is not overpowering. The liquor in an attractive copper colour with good clarity. The taste is smooth and clean with dominant roasted notes. The underlying green tea flavour with light vegetal and umami notes still comes through here, which is not as common with other hojicha teas. The roasted profile is complimented nicely by lightly metallic and tangy notes of barley and dry fruits. The aftertaste is smoothly comforting with some umami from the underlying green tea lingering on.
It is best brewed at 80°C for around 2-3 minutes, with multiple infusions. This tea goes exceptionally well with food and being lower in caffeine is a good option for later in the day. It is also delicious cold!
You may also be interested in other teas crafted by Kajihara-san.