Country of Origin: Japan
Region: Shizuoka Prefecture
Shipping Port: Tokyo
Altitude: 500 - 1500 feet
Manufacture Type: Steamed and roasted green tea
Cup Characteristics: The roasted green tea takes on a full bodied character with almost cinnamon toast-like notes. Delicious character that many tea drinkers enjoy
Infusion: Deep orange red with golden notes
Hojicha was invented in 1920 by a tea merchant in Kyoto (a former Imperial capital) who did not know what to do with a surplus stock of old tea leaves until he had the idea of roasting them. He created a new tea.
Tea has always had a place in Japanese life. It has been used to show respect to honored guests, as a medicinal drink to aid digestion after meals and in the tea ceremony whose rules were laid down by Rikuyu. Recent research has revealed numerous chemical and mineral components in green tea. Japanese green tea contains the following components: Theanine, Catechins (polyphenols), Flavonoids, Vitamins C, B1, B2, Niacin, Caffeine, Amino Acids and Minerals F, Zn, Mn, Cu, and Se.
Japan has been growing its own tea since at least the 8th century when Zen Buddhist priests grew plants in their temple gardens with seeds obtained from fellow Buddhists in China. Tea was not grown commercially in Japan until after the Dutch East Indies Company established relations with the feudal government in 1609. Even then the tea industry took along time to become a success. The British East Indies Company tried to establish a tea factory in Japan in 1621 but abandoned it 2 years later because of lack of demand for tea among Europeans at the time. The Dutch also built a tea factory in Japan and, perhaps because of a 50 year head start in tea marketing, found the venture profitable. Almost immediately however the Japanese shoguns began a campaign to isolate the island nation from contact with the western world. From about 1641 to 1859, only ships from Holland and China were permitted to enter Japanese waters, and even then there were severe limitations on what could be traded. The Japanese were so intent on isolating themselves that it was forbidden to build any boats capable of travel on the open seas.
During Japan's 218 years of seclusion, western demand for tea had grown from virtually nil to well over 45 million kilos a year. Tea trading was big business and European merchants had developed relatively modern expectations about the way a business should be conducted. Japan however, had remained in the Middle Ages. Europeans had to do their trading in a tiny fishing village called Yokohama.
Hot tea brewing method: When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly about 3 times. The secret is to use water that is about 200' or 90'C. Place 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of leaves per person in a teapot and let the tea steep for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour and begin to enjoy a cup of enchantment - do not remove the leaves from the pot. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on - until the tea flavor is exhausted. Milk or sugar are not recommended.
Iced tea brewing method: Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water.]