Hojicha (also spelled houjicha) is customarily produced from the sun-grown Japanese green tea known as bancha, which is typically harvested from the tea plant later in the season, after the first and second flushes of tea. Some hojicha can also be made from earlier-harvested sencha leaves.
Hojicha emerged in 1920s Kyoto, when tea merchants began roasting leaves over charcoal—possibly as a clever economical way to make use of stems or even stalks left over as the advent of mechanical harvesting began to scatter debris among harvested leaves. The roasted mixture produced an intense aroma that proved tantalizing to many, and the process of toasting or roasting these materials gained enough popularity to create a new style of green tea, albeit one that actually looks brown. (Nowadays many producers of hojicha use a spinning drum roasting method, as is commonplace in the roasting of coffee.)
The roasty flavors of hojicha can be nutty, earthy and somewhat caramelly, while retaining the creamy undertones so special to some green teas. The roasting process has a decaffeinating effect on the leaves, making hojicha a tasty low-caf alternative for tea enthusiasts, as well as any children they don't wish to send bouncing off the walls.
We are now serving Hojicha at The Hollow so if you'd like to taste something new on the green tea spectrum then were happy to make you a pot and would love to hear your feedback on what you think.