Origin: Kagoshima, Japan.
Nippon Cha’s Hojicha only uses the first harvested tea leaves. In the heating process, traditional Binchotan charcoal is used for roasting. The roasting process lowers the amount of caffeine in the tea while creating an earthy aroma with a light and soothing taste.
(1) About Hojicha
It is a type of Japanese green tea and refers to tea leaves that are roasted and served for drinking. Generally, hojicha is made from roasted Sencha, Bancha, and Kukicha. Hojicha has a reddish-brown color, a unique aroma, and is light in taste. Hojicha is suitable for long-term storage because it does not change in color and taste, so it's perfect for carrying in a water bottle and drinking on the go. Since it contains less caffeine compared to other green teas and is mild and gentle to the stomach, it is a popular tea to drink during meals in Japan among all ages.
Hojicha emerged in 1930s Kyoto, when tea dealers began roasting leaves over charcoal— an economical way to make use of leftover stems or stalks. But did you know that this roasting method was first triggered by America’s Great Depression in 1929? Japan suffered as a result and had its own Great Depression from 1930-1931. At the time, the tea preservation technique was not yet established, and tea was kept in a tea box and warehouse at room temperature. Since tea was a luxury item and deteriorated quickly, the tea houses had no choice but to dispose of any unsold tea.
At the request of Kyoto tea merchants, a Kyoto University professor invented the roasting method -- a new way of enjoying tea leaves that deteriorated. This is is how roasted green tea was born. Since then, tea has become readily available to all people and hojicha has become very popular. In recent years, the popularity of hojicha has increased among women and is referred to as "the tea that easily relaxes". Today there are various hojicha products available, such as bottled drinks and sweets in the store.
(4) Nippon Cha’s production process for Hojicha
Cultivation: Cultivated in an open field without covering the tea leaves in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan's largest tea growing area in Japan.
Harvest: The harvest of Japanese tea leaves can be roughly divided into three seasons/harvesting periods: Ichibancha (first picking in May), Nibancha (second picking in July), and Sanbancha (third picking in August). Only the first tea leaves picked in May are used for Nippon Cha’s Hojicha, giving it the strong flavor and aroma that isn’t found in tea from Nibancha and Sanbancha. Ichibancha is used only for high-end tea and because hojicha is considered a casual tea, most brands will use Nibancha. However, Nippon Cha created theirs using Ichibancha in order to preserve the strong umami taste and aroma and to produce a high-quality hojicha.
Method of production: After the tea leaves are picked, the process of steaming, crumpling, and drying is followed by a roast at the end. Traditionally, tea leaves are roasted using charcoal, but many brands today use gas. Nippon Cha continues to follow the traditional charcoal method and is heated at about 356 - 392 Fahrenheit (180 - 200 Celsius) for about 5 to 10 minutes. Unlike gas, the heating power of charcoal is not consistent, so only skilled craftsmen can control the heat and bring out the taste. By using traditional charcoal, far-infrared rays are generated -- thoroughly cooking the thick leaves and stems to the center and creating a high-quality hojicha that has been roasted evenly without burning.
The video of making Hojicha by using charcoal：https://youtu.be/KMS8Avt1nGU
(5) Healthy Benefit
Caffeine: Hojicha has a variety of health benefits, Hojicha has a variety of health benefits and has less caffeine compared to its original state (pre-roasted) due to the heating process. Therefore, it is gentle to the stomach and everyone can easily drink it.
Pyrazine: The amino acids and sugars in tea are connected by the heat of roast to produce pyrazine, a fragrant aroma unique to roasted tea. Pyrazine relaxes the brain and promotes blood circulation, effective on poor circulation and stiff shoulders. It is a phenomenon based on scientific grounds that when we drink hojicha, our mind feels calm and the body feels warm.
Catechin: Catechin is said to reduce fat and sugar absorption and burn body fat, making it the best drink for dieting. It also has antibacterial and bactericidal effects, so it kills the bacteria that causes bad breath and tooth decay, helps prevent food poisoning, E Coli, and suppresses the growth of Helicobacter pylori.