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A top view of some teaware use for the preparation and drinking of Hojicha, with sakura petals scattered.

Hojicha: An In-depth Exploration of Japan's Toasted Treasure

Uniquely comforting and distinctively robust, Hojicha stands tall within the panorama of green teas. Its journey is steeped in cultural wisdom, an innovative roasting process, and a diverse sensory profile. Sip Steeple takes you on a comprehensive voyage into the heart of Hojicha's history, characteristics, and the nuances of its homemade creation.

Tracing the Origins: Hojicha's Historical Journey

Hojicha's origins are intertwined with the history of Japan itself, deeply rooted in the country's cultural reverence for conservation and nature. Originating in Kyoto in the 1920s, Hojicha was initially created as a solution to minimise waste, using tea leaves that would otherwise be discarded due to age or quality.

As an innovative measure to combat the adverse effects of economic hardships, tea vendors began roasting these leaves over charcoal, giving birth to a unique type of tea. The rich, aromatic brew that resulted was devoid of bitterness, had a significantly reduced caffeine content, and was affordable, making it a popular choice among all demographics - from children to the elderly.

Over time, the roasting technique evolved, and so did Hojicha's place in Japanese society. Today, Hojicha is a household staple and an integral part of the country's tea culture, served not just in homes, but also in sophisticated tea ceremonies, restaurants, and even fast-food outlets.

The Art of Roasting: Decoding Hojicha's Unique Process

At the heart of Hojicha's unique character lies the method by which it's made - roasting. Unlike most other green teas that are steamed or pan-fried, Hojicha undergoes a transformative roasting process, which imparts its distinctive attributes.

The traditional process of creating Hojicha involves roasting the tea leaves in a porcelain pot, called a 'Houroku', over charcoal. The 'Houroku' is a simple yet effective tool, specifically designed to evenly distribute heat, ensuring that each leaf is uniformly roasted.

As the leaves are exposed to high temperatures, the roasting degrades the catechins, the bitter compounds in green tea. Simultaneously, the heat acts on the sugars and amino acids in the leaves, enhancing their natural sweetness. This process also significantly reduces the tea's caffeine content, resulting in a soothing, low-caffeine brew that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

The transformation of green tea leaves through roasting isn't just about enhancing their flavour. It's also a testament to the Japanese philosophy of 'Mottainai', a concept that emphasises the avoidance of waste and the appreciation of resources. Through this lens, the creation of Hojicha is a symbol of resourcefulness, using heat to turn less desirable tea leaves into a brew that's not just palatable, but delightful.

Unfolding the Character: Delving Deeper into Hojicha's Appearance, Aroma, Flavour, and Mouthfeel

The magic of Hojicha lies not just in its taste, but in the experience it offers - a multisensory journey that indulges the eyes, the nose, and the palate.

Appearance: The moment you set your eyes on Hojicha, you notice something peculiar - the leaves are a vibrant, reddish-brown, a stark contrast to the typical verdant hue of green teas. This colour transformation is a result of the caramelisation of sugars during the roasting process.

Aroma: As you bring the tea closer, the second wave of Hojicha's charm hits you - its aroma. It exudes a comforting, toasty scent, reminiscent of the delightful smell of freshly baked bread or a crackling bonfire. This inviting fragrance is a signature of Hojicha, a souvenir from its journey in the Houroku.

Flavour: When you finally take a sip, the true essence of Hojicha is revealed. The taste is a perfect balance of smoky robustness and a subtle caramel-like sweetness, devoid of the astringent bitterness associated with green teas. This smooth, palatable flavour profile makes Hojicha a universally accessible tea.

Mouthfeel: But Hojicha's sensory journey doesn't end at the flavour. Its mouthfeel - the tactile sensation it imparts - is an essential part of the experience. It's smooth, light, and velvety, finishing off with a clean, refreshing aftertaste.

The Many Faces of Hojicha: Exploring its Versatility

Traditionally, Sencha, a type of Japanese green tea, is the most commonly used tea for producing Hojicha. However, the roasting process that gives birth to Hojicha can be applied to various other types of tea, such as Bancha and Kukicha.

Each type of tea lends itself to different flavour nuances when roasted. For instance, Hojicha made from Bancha, often harvested later in the season, might exhibit a more robust, earthy flavour, while Kukicha-based Hojicha, made from tea stems, might lean towards a sweeter, more delicate profile. Regardless of the type of tea used, each variant is graced with the signature toasty character of Hojicha.

Crafting Hojicha at Home: Sip Steeple's Guide to Homemade Hojicha

To bring the comfort and warmth of Hojicha into your home, Sip Steeple presents a simple guide to transform our Sencha Green Tea into your homemade Hojicha:


  • 20 grams of Sip Steeple's Sencha Green Tea


  • A non-stick pan or traditional Houroku
  • A tea grinder (optional)


  1. Preheat your pan or Houroku over medium heat.
  2. Add the Sencha Green Tea to the preheated pan or Houroku.
  3. Stir the leaves continuously to ensure even roasting and prevent burning.
  4. Roast until the leaves develop a reddish-brown hue, and a toasty aroma begins to emanate.
  5. Remove from heat and allow the roasted leaves to cool.
  6. Optionally, grind the roasted leaves to achieve a smoother texture.
  7. Brew your homemade Hojicha as you would any loose leaf tea.

With this guide, you're not merely creating a cup of tea; you're participating in a cultural practice steeped in history and sustainability. At Sip Steeple, we're honoured to share a piece of Japan's rich tea heritage with you. As you savour your homemade Hojicha, remember, each sip carries a story - a story of resilience, innovation, and a deep respect for nature's gifts.

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A row of sealed, air tight tea containers, sitting on a brightly lit countertop in a modern kitchen.

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