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I absolutely love drinking green tea, especially Yamamotoyama’s Organic Hojicha Tea. In fact, I pretty much drink green tea everyday (sencha, gemmaicha, hojicha), especially with my meals. For those of you who are new to drinking Japanese green tea, one of the most common type of Japanese green tea is sencha. Sencha is produced from the youngest tea leaves, it is then steamed and rolled dried. It is often served in many Japanese restaurants and therefore most people would think of sencha when Japanese green tea is mentioned.
Whereas hojicha is another popular type of green tea. Simply, it is considered as the roasted version of green tea. Most people who aren’t much tea drinkers have probably only drank sencha, therefore I am reviewing Yamamotoyama’s Hojicha in hopes of enlightening more people into trying out different forms of Japanese green tea.
History of Yamamotoyama
Yamamotoyama is a family-owned company that was founded in 1690. It is considered to be one of the biggest manufacturers of green tea in Japan. It started off when the family moved from Kyoto to the new capital called Tokyo and established their tea shop. Nowadays, it is considered as one of the oldest tea company that grows and produce tea in Japan.
Hojicha is a Japanese green tea that is made from bancha, a type of sun-grown Japanese tea leaves that are harvested from the second flush of sencha. It is harvested from the same tree as sencha tea leaves, but because it is plucked later than sencha, it was often considered to be a lower market grade.
Hojicha was discovered in 1920 by accident when a tea merchant had a bunch of unsellable bancha. He then roasted the bancha over charcoal and was able to create a new flavour called hojicha. In addition to that, some tea merchants even began to make use of steams or stalks left over from the harvest to add flavour to the tea.
When the tea is roasted during the roasting process, it has a decaffeinating effect. This makes hojicha a good low caffeine option for those who are looking for a tea that is lower in caffeine and can even be drank during dinner before sleep.
I have always loved drinking Yamamotoyama’s line of green tea. I find that out of the many different brands that sell green tea, they have always been able to brew a satisfying cup of strong tea. The hojicha tea bag was no different.
After brewing, the tea gave a really nice medium amber brown colour. The reason why it is brown is because when the green tea leaves are heated, the catechin in it are oxidised and therefore it turns the tea brown instead of the usual green colour. The stronger the roast, the darker the colour of the tea should be. Yamamotoyama’s hojicha is pretty deeply roasted.
Because the tea leaves have been roasted until dark brown, the tea has less tannin. This is the chemical compound found in tea that makes the tea bitter and astringent to some people. This means that hojicha is often less bitter and astringent and this might make it a refreshing drink for kids or those who are not used to more bitter and astringent teas.
The aroma of the hojicha was very refreshing, it reminds me of the feel feelings of coffee and barley. The fragrance is nice and strong. On the surface, it gives off a nice sweet mellow scent. But, the more you smell it, the deeper the smell goes and you can certainly feel the complexity and continuity of the scent.
Taste of the Hojicha
The flavour of the hojicha tea is really nice. It reminds me of the feeling of roasted coffee with a hint of barley. When you first drink it, I found that there is a nice mellow sweetness that felt mildly elegant and it is balanced out by a deeper and nuttier undertone to the tea. In addition, the taste gives me a nice earthy sense without any burnt taste. I think Yamamotoyama probably have the best technology and equipment to help process and roast the tea leaves to bring out a roasted aroma without creating a taste of burnt leaves.
Low Caffeine in Hojicha
Hojicha is low in caffeine, this is due to the fact that during the roasting process the caffeine is essentially burnt out while the tea is roasting. In addition, some hojicha tea include tea stems or stalks and those do not have any caffeine at all.
Hojicha often contains around half the amount of caffeine than sencha per 100g of tea. Since it is low in caffeine, it can be drank pretty much any time of the day. This makes it a perfect drink for those who are looking for alternatives to coffee or just want a nice warm drink to end the day.
Pyrazine in Hojicha
Through the roasting process, a compound called pyrazine is produced in hojicha. It is an organic compound that is involved in creating the smell and flavour in the roasted tea. Pyrazine is produced by heating up the amino acids and sugar that is contained in the tea and thereby creating the unique scent in hojicha.
Not only does pyrazine cause hojicha tea to smell great, it also has some beneficial effects to your mind and body. It has the ability to expand your blood vessels, allowing for more blood to be pumped throughout your body and brain. Pyrazine also has the ability to help your body feel warmer, this is why hojicha is popular and often drunk in colder Japanese regions such as Hokkaido.
Pyrazine is also known to help increase the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. This is a neurotransmitter chemical messenger in your brain that blocks some signals in the central nervous system. Therefore it will help slow down your brain and provide a calming effect on both your brain and body. Studies have found that GABA is able to help reduce stress from mental tasks and might even be able to help enhance your ability to plan and prioritise activities.
How to Brew?
Simply boil your water and then let it cool down a little to around 75-85 degrees Celsius (167-185F) and place your tea bag into the water and steep for around 1 to 2 minutes. After stepping, you can take your bag out and reuse it after you finish your first cup of tea.
I would definitely recommend Yamamotoyama’s Organic Hojicha Green Tea. It is one of the original brands of green tea and they have such a deep legacy of doing Japanese tea right. You really cannot go wrong with their brand.
I really like their deep robust flavour in the tea. It is quite distinct from other Japanese green tea as the roasted taste brings a different taste to the usual green tea. There are many benefits to drinking this tea as well. One thing that is really great about this tea is that it is low caffeine. This means that it’s well rounded and can be drank at any time of the day.
Have you drank Hojicha before? What do you think about it?