Once again I am up late and killing off some time by posting backlogged tea reviews from 2020. I’m slowly getting used to reviewing Japanese green teas, even though I am still not brewing them in anything resembling traditional fashion. Then again, do I ever really brew anything in traditional fashion? No, not exactly. I tend to personalize everything. This tea was something of a challenge for me. Prior to trying it, I was not all that familiar with houjicha and knew that what I usually do with sencha was probably not going to work well. A little research yielded a number of wildly different approaches to brewing houjicha, and I ended up settling on a multi-step approach suitable for Western brew baskets and tea mugs. I’ll outline my approach below.
To brew this tea, I opted for a multi-step Western brewing process. I started by measuring out 3 grams of loose tea leaves and steeping them in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 185 F water for 1 minute 30 seconds. This infusion was followed by two others. The second infusion lasted 30 seconds and was done with 203 F water. The third and final infusion was conducted with 212 F water and lasted 1 minute 30 seconds.
Prior to the first infusion, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of smoke, tar, charcoal, roasted barley, brown sugar, and roasted chestnut. After infusion, new aromas of coffee, butter, soybean, and toasted rice appeared. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of smoke, cream, butter, roasted barley, toasted rice, charcoal, coffee, minerals, soybean, vanilla, peas, and brown sugar that were underscored by delicate hints of tar, roasted chestnut, grass, hay, and baked bread. The second infusion introduced aromas of pine, ash, apple, sweet cherry, and cinnamon. Stronger and more immediate notes of grass, hay, baked bread, and roasted chestnut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of pine and hints of sweet cherry, ash, and cinnamon. The final infusion did not add anything new to the nose. The tea liquor turned very mineral-heavy in the mouth, although notes of pine, butter, smoke, cream, toasted rice, and roasted barley were still very much present. Hints of brown sugar, roasted chestnut, charcoal, soybean, grass, and baked bread could be detected as well, and a very subtle hint of apple also briefly made itself known.
I had absolutely no clue what I was doing with this tea, but it was still a very fun and enjoyable offering. Challenges are not always rewarding, but this tea ended up being one of those rewarding challenges for me. I cannot compare it to any other houjicha with any confidence, but I can state that I did enjoy this tea. It struck me as being a quality offering, and it also made me me open up to the possibility of eventually trying and reviewing another houjicha or two. Could I ask for more than that from this tea? Should I? I don’t think so.
Flavors: Apple, Ash, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Char, Cherry, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Grass, Hay, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Soybean, Tar, Toasted Rice, Vanilla