Tea Review: Obubu Tea Farm Houjicha Gold Tea

Obubu Tea Houjicha Gold

  • Region: Obubu Tea Farm, Kyoto
  • Dry tea leaves: Mostly dark brown long tea leaves
  • Liquor: Bright golden
  • Price: $15 for 80 gr

For those who are new to Houjicha tea, it is a very special Japanese roasted green tea that is generally made out of bancha tea leaves. To be honest I’m not a fan of this tea yet I try to keep drinking more of it in order to develop my tea experience.  And When I come across really good one I’d like to share it with you.

This week I’ll introduce you one of these teas: Houjicha Gold from Obubu Tea Farm. This is first houjicha I really like of all houjichas I’ve drunk so far. It’s complex, refreshing tea. The reason for that might be the fact that houjicha is normally made of bancha tea leaves (which is considered as the lowest grade of all Japanese teas) whereas in this one Sencha tea leaves were used.

I brew it Gongfu style using 5 grams of tea for about 200 mm water at about 90 degrees Celsius. First brew took 25 seconds, adding another 10-15 seconds for following brews. When it’s brewed it’s produced a liquor reminiscent of Dancong oolongs. The liquor is crystal clear as well.

First thing that hits you even before you take your first sip is the dominance of roasted and nutty aroma in this tea. It’s very well balanced, it does not bother you as in some other houjichas. Similar to aroma taste is dominated by roasted and nutty flavors too. It’s refreshingly sweet, with no sign of astringency. The mouthfeel is delicately sweet.

In a nutshell, this houjicha from Obubu Tea Farm is by far the best houjicha I’ve tried so far and it’s suggested to anyone who want  to try this tea first time or looking for a great example of this tea.

Obubu Tea Houjicha Gold
Obubu Tea Houjicha Gold Liquor
Obubu Tea Houjicha Gold
Obubu Tea Houjicha Gold Spent Tea Leaves
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Tea Review: Genmaicha Green Tea by Obubu Tea

Genmaicha Green Tea by Obubu Tea

Dry Tea Leaves: Mix of roasted brown rice and bancha tea leaves
Aroma: Nutty alongside with roasted rice
Flavor: Very dominant buttery flavor with little bit of saltiness
Region: Kyoto, Japan
Brewing: 5 gr tea brewed four times at 90° for 20-25 seconds
Liquor: Between yellow and green. Crystal clear

According to the legend that goes back to 15th century; a samurai who was planning an attack on enemy ordered his servant, named Genmai, a cup of tea. While preparing tea Genmai accidentally dropped a few grains of rice into tea bowl which made the Samurai very angry and as a result servant lost his head. However when the Samurai took his first sip of the tea prepared by Genmai, he was filled with remorse and named the tea ‘Genmaicha‘ to honor his servant.

There are probably more practical reasons on the origin of Genmaicha yet it’s kinda heart-warming to hear this sort of stories now and then. Genmaicha (aka Popcorn tea) today is one of the most popular teas of Japan. Personally I haven’t been much of a fan of this tea since the blend of rice and tea felt like an awkward combination to me. If you’re well into tea world you know that there is this group of teas you could name ‘love it or hate it’ teas. Lapsang Souchong or Smoked Tea is one of these teas and I love it. Genmaicha is another tea you can put in this ‘love it or hate it’ category and you can guess which side of the scale I am inclined. However I know there are great admirers of this tea out there and I respect them. I believe Genmaicha has a character and very unique tea just like Lapsang Souchong. Furthermore some teas are like great novels you’ve got to put some effort into it and show some patience in order to cherish it.

This week’s tea coming from Obubu Tea Farm in Kyoto, Japan. Previously I reviewed their Kabuse Sencha green tea. I bought a lot of samples from them and it’s kinda hard to choose this week’s tea. For some reason I went for their Genmaicha tea. As soon as you get the hold of tea leaves you can easily understand the freshness of it. Both bancha tea leaves and brown rice have very vibrant colors .It’s full of roasted brown rice which surface up as soon as you pour water into teapot. Bancha tea leaves that are used in this tea are quite fresh as well. The sweetness of this tea comes from roasted brown rice which is combined with somewhat astringency of bancha tea leaves. As a result they made a very special tea to drink even for those who’re not into Genmaicha tea.

If you’re already fan of Genmaicha tea then I highly recommend this tea. If you’re somewhat aloof and want to give it a shot then again Obubu’s Genmaicha is among the right options.

Genmaicha Green Tea by Obubu Tea Genmaicha Green Tea by Obubu Tea

Six Things You Should Know About Brewing Tea

Brewing Chinese Tea - Photo courtesy of Kevin Jaako
Brewing Chinese Tea – Photo courtesy of Kevin Jaako

1) Not every tea is created equal. Therefore use good quality loose tea as much as possible. Avoid tea bags!
2) Each type of tea requires different brewing method. So there is no room for one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to brewing tea. For instance water should be around 90 degrees Celsius for most oolong teas; but it’s around 60 degrees Celsius for some Japanese green teas.
3) You can go either with Western Style brewing or Chinese Style. While Chinese Style is based on multiple short infusions by using yixing teapot or gaiwan; Western Style uses large teapots or mugs and allows one or two infusions. Go for Chinese Style (aka Gongfu Style) whenever you have the chance, you won’t regret it. Particularly when you brew oolong tea.

Gongfu Style Tea Brewing- Photo courtesy of Jonathan Lobel
Gongfu Style Tea Brewing- Photo courtesy of Jonathan Lobel

4) We’re all creatures of habit. It’s normal that you’ve got some favorites. For some it’s famous Earl Grey, for others it’s nice cup of Silver Needle white tea. However there’re thousands of tea out there waiting to be explored. If you do not have any idea where to start, I suggest you try some oolong tea. Break your habits today!

Tieguanyin Oolong Tea - Photo courtesy of Serena
Tieguanyin Oolong Tea – Photo courtesy of Serena

5) We all spend more time at work than home. Nothing is like a great tea break at work! So get some accessories to brew loose tea at work. Teavana’s Tea Maker and Adagio Teas’ IngenuiTEA are great tools to make nice cup of tea at work.
6) Last but not least, share your tea! Tea is best when it’s accompanied by a nice conversation.

What is Gyokuro Tea ?

To tell you the truth when it comes to green tea, I’m more inclined to China than Japan. Yet there is one type of green tea from Japan that I do always crave. which one? Yes, you got it right! it’s Gyokuro green tea which is mostly produced in Fukuoka and Kyoto.

Gyokuro Green Tea on Flickr
Gyokuro Green Tea – photo courtesy of Dimitri Fedorov

What makes Gyokuro so unique ? It’s shaded for about three weeks prior to harvesting with a structure called Tana. This process gives Gyokuro its rich aroma and flavor. Following shading process tea leaves are picked by masterful hands for making Gyokuro. This tea is definitely not for beginners (you should go for Sencha), but for aficionados. Brewing requires much more careful handling, too. It’s suggested not  to use water hotter than 60 degrees celsius.Traditionally it’s brewed with Japanese Kyusu teapot but it’s ok to use any other brewing device.

If you’re looking for something refreshing and invigorating on a sunny or rainy day, this tea definitely fits the bill.  Especially if you’re into green tea and haven’t tried Gyokuro yet, you better hurry!