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.
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.
Kabuse Sencha or shaded tea is Obubu‘s most premium green tea. Even though Gyokuro tea is known as shaded tea of Japan; there are some senchas such as this one shading technic is applied. It’s sort of a middle way between Sencha and Gyokuro. The main reason for shading tea and therefore reducing sunlight on tea leaves is to create amino acid and chlorophyll-rich tea leaves in order to get a more complex and rich tea. Obubu’s Kabuse Sencha was covered for two weeks prior to harvesting. It’s all made from %100 aracha from Wazuka, Kyoto.
Dry tea leaves are mostly dark green and have a needle-like sharpness with somewhat broken leaves. As usual for Japanese green teas it smells grassy. I used 5 grams of tea, 80 ml of water at 70 degrees for about 1.5 minutes for the first infusion as it’s instructed at Obubu’s tea brewing brochure. The liquor was very light green and you get grassiness from the liquor easily. It’s a very sweet tea with a little bit astringency. I’m quite a fan of having both sweet and bitter notes in tea. Yet sweetness in this tea is quite different from the sweetness of other teas such as sweetness of Ali Shan Oolong. This tea is distinguished with its ‘umami’ flavor which means ‘tasty’ in Japanese according to the description at Obubu’s Tea Brochure. It’s also a persistent tea with a very creamy texture.