|Other names||hōji-cha, houjicha, pan-fried / oven roasted tea|
|Quick description||Popular in Japan; roasted bancha or kukicha tea, often used as an after-dinner tea|
|Temperature||82 °C (180 °F)|
|Time||30 sec to 3 minutes|
Hōjicha (焙じ茶, ほうじ茶) is a Japanese green tea. It is distinctive from other Japanese green teas because it is roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal. It is roasted at 150° C to prevent oxidation and produce a light golden colour, as opposed to other Japanese teas which are steamed.
Dry hōjicha tea leaves are brown wedge-shaped needles. The tea is fired at a high temperature, altering the leaf colour tints from green to reddish-brown.
Infusions have a distinctive clear red appearance and nutty fragrance.
Once infused, hōjicha has a nutty, toasty, sweet flavor. The tea has little to no bitterness.
The process of making hojicha was discovered in 1920 by accident when a Kyoto merchant had unsaleable bancha. By roasting the bancha, the merchant created a new flavor; hōjicha was born. The popularity of hōjicha persists today.
To this day, hōjicha is often made from bancha (番茶 'common tea'), tea from the last harvest of the season. However, other varieties of hōjicha also exist, including a variety made from sencha and kukicha. Kukicha is made from the twigs of the tea plant rather than the leaves.
Hōjicha infusions have a light- to reddish-brown appearance and are less astringent. The lower levels of astringency in hōjicha are due to the tea losing catechins during the high-temperature roasting process.
The roasted flavours are extracted and dominate this tea: the roasting replaces the vegetative tones of other varieties of Japanese green tea with a toasty, slightly caramel-like flavour.
The roasting process used to make hōjicha also lowers the amount of caffeine in the tea. Because of its mildness, hōjicha is a popular tea to serve during the evening meal, before sleep, and preferred for children and the elderly.