Making Hojicha With a Japanese Tea Roaster (Hojiki)

Today I’ll be roasting some sencha with a Japanese tea roaster.

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Hello all! I’m finally back with another post, but today I am reviewing and attempting to use an interesting piece of teaware I received in the mail recently.

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This gorgeous thing is a hojiki (horoku), which is a Japanese clay tea roaster. As soon as I saw this on Yuuki-Cha I knew I needed to buy it. This roaster is usually used to turn sencha into hojicha (roasted green tea) or to revive old tea leaves.

So, how does it work? Well, you start off with some sencha (Yuuki-Cha recommends a low to medium grade sencha). I used O-Cha’s Uji Sencha Musashi which is a great everyday, rather inexpensive sencha. This sencha comes from the Tsuen Tea Shop in Uji, Kyoto, Japan which is the oldest teashop in the world, as it has been open since 1160.

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This particular sencha has gyokuro stems in it, which leads to a stronger flavor (but not necessarily astringency if you brew it well).

Anyways, so next you must place the sencha into the hojiki. I only used about 7 grams as that’s what I usually use when brewing in a kyusu pot.

After the sencha is in the hojiki, it’s time to roast! So, I really didn’t know how to do this at first but I looked up a few video tutorials (most of which were in foreign languages) and I was able to understand it. Over medium heat, hold the hojiki directly over the burner/flame until a fragrant smell begins to come off of the leaves. Then begin to shake the hojiki in a circular motion until the leaves become darker, browner, and smell delightfully roasted (you may need to raise the heat during this step if you have an electric stove).

I did burn myself a few times because the handle gets quite hot, so I would recommend using an oven mitt when holding the hojiki over the burner.

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And… I ended up with this.

Now most commercial hojicha that I’ve seen was much darker and uniformly brown but I was getting an intense hojicha smell off of these leaves and I was very worried about the leaves burning. I guess this is more of a subtle roast, then.

However, I had to taste it to see if I had really made hojicha.

So I brewed it up in a 360 ml kyusu pot (my favorite lefty kyusu from Hibiki-an). What’s great about brewing this is that you can pour the roasted leaves directly into your kyusu through the hojiki handle, which is hollow.

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And what I got after brewing it was a lovely, light brown tea (much different from the sencha, which is a vibrant light green when brewed) which smelled beautifully of toasted seaweed, freshly roasted walnuts, and even a floral scent of orchid.

The tea was excellent as well – it’s full of intense, nutty flavors with more notes of toasted seaweed and subtle notes of roasted vegetables (like oven-roasted asparagus). The roasted flavor wasn’t overpowering or cloying either, it was fresh, delicate, and light which is perfect for me.

I must say, although I burned myself in the process, this is probably the best hojicha I’ve had. The roasted flavor of this just seems more fresh than other hojichas and it’s flavor is very clear and bright. I imagine that this tea would go excellently with some seafood (like kabayaki eel).

Overall, I am very very very pleased with this purchase. I probably won’t be buying hojicha in the future since I can make it myself now, and I can’t wait to try this later on in the year to revive some older green teas I keep forgetting about. I also believe that this roaster could be used for other teas as well, so I might make an update post about trying to roast a jade oolong (maybe a tieguanyin or a baozhong). This is a very nifty piece of teaware to buy and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to introduce some more specific, unusual pieces of teaware into their collection.

Now I guess I have to get the batabatacha whisk I’ve been eyeing on Thes Du Japon.

Links:
Hojiki
Kyusu Pot
Sencha

 

 

 

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