Houjicha (also spelled hojicha) is a Japanese green tea made by roasting sencha or bancha. In Japanese, houji means to roast and cha means tea. The most important feature of this tea is its flavour as it is very different from other Japanese green teas that are often steamed. When I first tried houjicha green tea I immediately noticed that it doesn’t really taste like a green tea. It lacks the distinctive earthy fragrance and grassy taste of other green teas I’m used to drinking.
How Houjicha Green Tea Is Made
As mentioned, the green tea that gets roasted to create what is known as houjicha is usually sencha or bancha. Sencha is the most common Japanese green tea and it is made by using the first or second young leaves. On the contrary, bancha is made by using old leaves and leaves cultivated in autumn with the same production procedure as sencha.
On a green tea market, there are two types of houjicha green tea. One is made from leaves and the other is made from stems. Houjicha made from stems is more expensive than houjicha made from leaves. When amino acids (including L-Theanine) are heated, they change into other aromatic chemicals which are the feature of houjicha. You might be surprised but there is more L-Theanine in stems. L-Theanine is made at a root, and then carried up to stems and leaves. L-Theanine is turned in to catechin under sun light (photosynthesis) but in a stem, photosynthesis is done much less than leaves. Eventually there is more L-Theanine remaining in stems.
Houjicha green tea has a very low caffeine thanks to its roasting process and therefore many like to drink it at night, even including children and the elderly. Its light taste goes very well with any dish but the other most noticeable feature of houjicha is its aroma. Studies may say that houjicha green tea can relax our brain, but the aroma of houjicha differs from one green tea company to another. It is said that you need years of experience and skill to make houjicha with a good aroma.
Houjicha is an excellent green tea to recommend because its price is reasonable and there is no grassy taste that some non-green tea drinkers don’t enjoy. You can also try to roast your own houjicha at home. A few years back, Ricardo from My Japanese Green Tea shared a great how-to on his blog that shows how easy it can be if you have some bancha or sencha lying around that needs to be used.
In Japan, houjicha powder is used as an ingredient for desserts similar to how matcha green tea powder can be used. While it doesn’t provide the same vibrant green colour addition to recipes, the taste is equally delicious. The difference between whole leaves houjicha and the houjicha powder is that whole leaves are for drinking only and the power is only used as an ingredient for sweets. Green tea powders like matcha and houjicha go very well with milk products. With the powder form, it makes it quite simple to add it into a recipe for a more unique taste. Some of the most popular houjicha green tea desserts are Houjicha ice cream, Houjicha chocolate, Houjicha cake and Houjicha latte.
Houjicha Green Tea Powder Giveaway
Want to try some houjicha powder yourself? If you love making sweets and/or are eager to try this as a new ingredient Grace & Green is offering several of my readers packages (30 grams) of their delightful houjicha powder. The giveaway will run from February 22nd – March 7th. The winner will be announced by the 8th. Entering is easy! Using the Rafflecopter widget below follow the directions per entry and receive as many entries per follows, visits, comments, shares or tweets. The giveaway is open to U.S., U.K. and Canada residents only and the winner will be selected randomly.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Special thanks to Ritsuo, owner and founder of Japan based tea company Grace & Green, for contributing to this post and offering my readers a chance to win houjicha powder to try themselves.
Have you tried adding Houjicha to your recipes before? Give my simple recipe for Houjicha Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn a try!