Taste of Tea :: Hojicha from Adagio Teas

Hello, fellow tea enthusiasts! I hope you had a great weekend. It’s been quite a while since my last Tea Journal post; it seems I let myself slack off too much. As a part of my post-hiatus return, I’m also trying out a little re-branding of my post categories. This post is the first in my new/renamed Taste of Tea series (formerly Tea Reviews). This series is dedicated to posts that relay my notes and experiences from my personal tea tasting sessions. If you are interested in some tea infused poetry, then please check out my other series A Bit of PoeTea (formerly Tea Poetry) as well.

In today’s post, I’ll relay my notes from my most recent tea-tasting entry to my tea journal: Hojicha loose leaf tea from Adagio Teas. I purchased this tea as a part of Adagio’s Teas of Japan sampler. I’ve enjoyed other Japanese teas, such as Tencha and Gyokuro, and was greatly looking forward to trying the Hojicha and others from the set.

Type of Tea: Green Tea, loose leaf

A quick bit about Hojicha  Hojicha is a type of charcoal roasted Japanese green tea [1,2,3], which is composed of leftover leaves and stems. The name hojicha, or houjicha, is derived from the Japanese houjiru (“to roast”) and cha (“tea”) [4]. Hojicha is most often made from Bancha [1,2,3], a type of sun-grown Japanese tea, and is typically harvested in the late summer after the first two flushes of tea.

Tasting Notes  The dry stuff was composed mostly of stem, and what leaf material that was there was fragmentary and small.

dry hojicha tea
dry hojicha

At first glance, the dry tea looked like a pile of dry twigs with some leaf fragments strewn about with them. The bits of leaf were a dark brown color, while the stems were lighter and had a more golden quality to their brown. The ensemble also looked kind of like bark chip mulch. The dry tea had a semi-sweet smell, with some roasted notes, and a slight, almost medicinal herb, quality. I wasn’t quite able to place the type of sweetness in the smell, but it wasn’t a light or fruity sweetness. There was also a slight, maybe, earthy tinge to the scent along with the low roasted sweetness. This tea definitely didn’t have a grassy or pine-like scent.

Before brewing the first infusion I quickly rinsed the dry tea. Then I infused the tea for 40 seconds in boiled water that allowed to cool for two minutes before use.

After brewing the first infusion, the wet tea had a little bit lighter scent. It still retained the roasted, semi-sweet, and semi-medicinal qualities, but they were toned down a bit with a little more of a roasting wood scent that came through; I wasn’t quite able to place the woody scent at the time, but in hindsight I’m guessing that it was probably the note of mesquite.

The tea liquor had a deep golden, honey-like, color.

hojicha tea liquid
hojicha tea liquor

Upon a first sip the tea liquor had an almost more viscous feel; perhaps, this was just a product of the honey-like appearance of the liquid playing tricks on my mind. The tea was mildly astringent, and it was mildly sweet. There was also an almost medicinal herb-like quality to the tea that was slightly reminiscent of ginseng teas. The flavor also contained some roasted notes (similar to those in the scent). The finish was sweet and dry, and I noticed a lingering sweetness in the back of my mouth.

Quick Summary

  • Tea: Hojicha, loose, green tea
  • Pick and Processing: leftover bancha leaves and stems, charcoal roasted
  • Season: late summer, after first two flushes
  • Origin: Japan
  • Retailer: Adagio Tea 
  • Current Price: $7/1.5 oz and $14/8 oz
  • Texture: slightly viscous effect, mildly astringent
  • Flavor Notes: roasted, semi-sweet, slight medicinal herbiness, burning wood
  • Finish: dry, lingering sweetness

Final Thoughts  I enjoyed the sweet roastiness of this tea. Although I didn’t enjoy as much the slight medicinal quality of the scent and taste of the tea, it evoked some favorable childhood memories of occasional trips to the health-food store with my mom, a place where the scent of the herbs and supplements laced the air. Overall, I found this to be a surprising yet pleasant green tea. It was a nice change of pace from the grassy green teas that I often enjoy.

Have you ever tried this tea before or a similar one from another retailer/provider? If so, please comment and share your thoughts. Also, I want to continually improve the quality of my posts, so if you have any suggestions please comment and tell me how I can do better.

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  1.  Hojicha Tea. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2018, from https://www.adagio.com/green/hojicha.html
  2. History of hojicha. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2018, from https://hojicha.co/pages/history-of-hojicha-roasted-green-tea
  3. Clayton, L. (2018, August 09). Tea Time: All About Hojicha. Retrieved from https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/09/tea-time-all-about-hojicha-japanese-green-tea-how-to-brew-tea-history.html
  4. Obubu Interns. (2017, April 28). What’s in a Name? Part III: Bancha & Hojicha. Retrieved October 7, 2018, from https://obubutea.com/tea-names-part-3/

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