Kuki Hojicha

kuki hojicha - dry leaf

Many teaheads don’t need much arm twisting in order to enter into a cash for leaves transaction at the best of times, and thanks to a fairly feeble excuse I hopped online and got busy buying.

Recent changes to my banking arrangements gifted me the opportunity to do some **cough**research” into whether or not everything was working as it should, and naturally enough a dough for cha exchange was seen as the best way to go about it.

At the same time as I was looking around for a tea to throw some brass at, I got to thinking about the hojicha I bought on a wet whim recently. I realised that I perhaps hadn’t really given this type of tea the kind of attention and respect it was due, and that it was about time I upped my game, hojicha wise.

I visited one of my favourite online teahouses, House of Tea, to see what they could do for me, and this tea seemed to tick all the right boxes, one of which was my desire to finally get around to sampling a Japanese kuki tea, i.e. one made from stems, rather than leaves. Friends, we have a winner. Kuki Hojicha, come on down!

After a short bout of intense and nervous clicking and app-based swiping, to my delight and relief I received an e-mail confirming that everything was indeed A-OK, and that a parcel with my name on it had been dispatched. The very next day I was unboxing said package on our kitchen table, and after a short but sweet session with the included sample of Darjeeling, I turned my attention to the kuki hojicha.

When I was moving the tea from the packet to its caddy I picked up a subtle aroma of pine needles from the dried leaf.

Steeping method
Water Used: Filtered tap water
Weight of dry leaf: 4 grams
Infusion style: Japanese
Steeping vessel: 200 ml glazed ceramic kyusu
Water temperature: 90°C
No. & duration: 3 infusions of 30, 40, and 40 seconds duration.

The first infusion gave a wonderful, oily body, and that nice, deep colour. It felt as though the roast was coming through as a complex, sweet nuttiness that almost had a Longjing like quality to it. That signature Japanese green tea umami/marine note was present, but well down in the mix.

kuki hojicha - a cup of

The weird thing is that whatever there was in my teacup, there was a subtle amount of it, if you follow.

Given this tea’s unassuming character I can now see why people say that it makes an excellent companion drink to food. Firstly, it’s remarkably easy to drink, quaff even. There is plenty of taste here, but nothing absurdly complex in overwhelming amounts that might clash disastrously with the taste of a meal. I’m simply going to have to experiment with pairing this tea up with, well, everything really, but for starters I can really see it going down a storm with a stir-fry, or steamed dumplings, or tempura…!

Those three steepings were right on the money – a fourth would be pushing things a little too far, I reckon.

kuki hojicha - used leaf

One last thing has me wondering, though – how well will this tea scale up to larger volumes?

Some teas don’t make the jump well, even if you stick to the same water/leaf ratio when steeping them in a larger vessel using the same base technique. Given that this tea is meant to be drunk along with food, I’m assuming that it should deal with, say, 500 ml plus teapots sans problème.

I sense a raft of tasty experiments approaching.

Watch this space, etc…

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4 Responses to Kuki Hojicha

  1. If you have leaves to spare, and if the weather permits, a cold-brew houjicha might be something to try. I really enjoyed cold brew houjicha and mugicha during the summer (although I realise it’s autumn in most countries now)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we’ve just had our first overnight frosts here in Southern Sweden, so cold brew is a bit unseasonable right now, but I might just try it for the hell of it just to see how it turns out!

      Do you have any pointers to water/leaf ratios that work well…? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I normally just eyeball the quantities because cold brew is so forgiving so the only thing I make sure to do is get water that isn’t already ice cold because the brewing process is going to be much longer.

        Although I did read a post yesterday where someone recommended using a tiny amount of hot water to brew for 60s, and then adding cool water to continue cold brewing. The ratios were 6g of tea to 1l of water. I haven’t tried that, but I’m probably going to in the future

        https://onimaga.jp/hojicha.html

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that. I’ll give that ratio a try, if I can make enough room in the fridge… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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