Japanese green tea, which was introduced to Japan during the 8th century, is made from the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant. Unlike other types of tea, green tea is left unoxidized to keep its greenish color and distinct flavor.
One type of Japanese green tea is hōjicha. Unlike other green teas that are steamed to stop the oxidation process, this type of tea is roasted over charcoal in a porcelain pot. Often enjoyed after a meal, this green tea has a distinct color, flavor, and aroma. While this brew was traditionally enjoyed hot, today it can also be enjoyed iced.
Origins & Technology
Although green tea has been a Japanese staple for centuries, this variety is relatively new. Unlike more traditional practices of harvesting tea leaves and buds by hand, machines have been slowly replacing these labor practices. In fact, the first mechanical systems for harvesting tea were invented and put into use in 1910.
With the use of machinery, however, came more debris and scattered leaves, stems, stalks, and twigs. After all, early machines were not as precise and efficient as handing. In 1920, in an attempt to still make a profit, a Kyoto tea merchant roasted the leftover bancha scraps. This resulted in a new green tea variety that quickly became popular and remains popular today.
Hōjicha tea, which was originally made from bancha tea, is now also made from sencha and kukicha tea. Unlike traditional green teas that are steamed, hōjicha tea is roasted at approximately 302°F.
This process turns the green leaves reddish-brown, and infuses a smokey flavor into the leaves, creating a more distinct aroma. The process of roasting the leaves over intense heat also reduces the caffeination content, making it a more favorable choice for people with caffeine sensitivities or even children.
Brewing Hōjicha Tea
Hōjicha tea is most commonly enjoyed in loose-leaf form. Whether you are having a relaxing hot brew or a refreshing iced hōjicha tea, there are only a few items needed and a couple steps to follow. Being easy to make, anyone can sip on and enjoy this beverage in the comfort of their home.
In order to brew a hot beverage, you will need a pot or kettle to boil water, a teapot for brewing, a mug to drink out of, a strainer, loose tea leaves, and water.
- Bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. (For the best tasting results, it is recommended that spring water or fresh water is used.)
- Pour ½ cup of the hot water into the teapot. Swirl the water around and then discard it after the teapot is pre-heated. Allow the rest of the water to cool until it reaches around 190°F.
- Place 2 teaspoons of the loose leaves into the warmed teapot and pour the remaining 1 cup of hot water on top of the leaves. Place the cover on the teapot and allow the tea to steep for 2 minutes.
- When the tea is ready, pour some into your mug using the strainer to catch the leaves. Then, you can either add some sweetener or enjoy the brew as is!
Like brewing a hot fresh cup of hōjicha tea, iced tea is easy to make. All you will need is a pitcher, water and tea leaves.
- Fill a pitcher with 2 cups of cool or room temperature water. (For the best tasting results, spring water or fresh water is recommended.)
- Stir in 4 teaspoons of the loose hōjicha tea leaves.
- Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for 8 hours.
- When the cold tea has steeped for the recommended amount of time, strain some tea into a glass filled with ice. (If desired, you can add a syrup to the iced tea to make it sweeter.)
Appearance, Aroma, & Flavor
Hōjicha tea appears reddish-brown after it has been brewed. If enjoying this tea as it was traditionally made, the hot beverage has a roasted flavor with subtle notes of nuts and sweetness. If you are enjoying this tea as a cold brew or iced tea, a chocolatey taste is more noticeable. While the rich smokey aroma can be enjoyed from this tea, it is easier to detect when sipping on a hot cup of hōjicha tea.
Nutrition & Caffeine
One serving of this green tea variety has zero calories, carbs, fats, proteins, and sugars. On top of its low nutritional value, the method used to process the tea leaves makes it naturally lower in caffeine than other green teas. One serving, with is 8 fl oz, contains approximately 7.7 mg of caffeine.
Containing vitamins A, C, and E, this green tea is often used to help support a strong immune system, healthy looking skin, and maintain good digestive health. Some people also drink this as a way to relieve and manage stress.
Unlike other green teas which have been around for many years, this 100-year-old tea is made by roasting tea over charcoal in a porcelain pot. This process, which is done over extreme heat (roughly 302°F.) turns the leaves reddish-brown, infuses the leaves with a smoky flavor and aroma, and lessens the caffeine content. As a result, hōjicha tea has a relatively low caffeine content more suitable for those with caffeine sensitivities.
Originally produced with bancha leaves, other varieties have been produced by roasting both sencha and kukicha tea. While it is traditionally brewed and enjoyed as a hot beverage, it is also great-tasting as iced tea. Some people even add some sweet syrup, like honey or strawberry syrup, to make the iced beverage even tastier.
Although there is little scientific research to back it up, people often use this tea as a way to maintain and support a healthy lifestyle. Regardless as to why you might want to try this tea, its smoky aroma and decadent taste is intriguing to even the most inexperienced tea drinker.