Friday, March 16, 2012

Stick tea for the Emperor

I got Kaga-bocha, as a present.  Kaga is an area in Kanagawa prefecture; while Bocha literally means stick tea.  It is actually a kind of hojicha (roasted green tea) made of twig tea. 

I found an interesting episode about the origin of their tea on a note which came along with the package.  Let me introduce some abstracts from it.

Maruhachi is the tea producer
Spelling differences: Bocha = Boucha,  Hojicha = Houjicha

*** Abstract ***
Boucha is a specialty of Kaga, Kanazawa.  In Kanazawa, tea is synonymous with Houjicha, especially Boucha most of the time.  It is drunk commonly everywhere: at home, work and gatherings.  (snip) 
There used to be a clear-cut understanding in the tea industry in Kanagawa including Maruhachi that Matcha and Gyokuro (refined green tea) are the best Japanese tea and Boucha is the tea for the common people since it doesn’t require high quality materials for production.  However, “the quest for delicious Boucha” started when Boucha was offered to the Emperor Showa, who only drunk Houjicha.  When the Emperor visited Kanazawa in 1983, he requested the best Houjicha and his hotel contacted us for help.  The request made us wonder what the best Boucha should be like.  It might sound somewhat out of date, but this was the start of our quest for a gentle and well-developed flavored Boucha.

It also says that they have visited fields around the country to pursue research on better “tea stem field” with producers.  They are actually growing stems not tea leaves.  They also think that technique of roasting is craftsmanship.  Everything from temperature, humidity and tea stems’ condition affects the taste.  It is all up to the professional’s skill to make full use of high-tech machines.  They want to care about the taste.

From this note, I learned that the manufactures want to make a delicious tea out of casual tea, and they have made a lot of effort for producing it.  This note made me want to try this tea even more.  I’ll write about it on the next entry.

Maruhachi Tea Webpage (Japanese)  >>>


  1. Are boucha and kukicha the same thing?

    1. Yes, that's right. Kukicha is sometimes called bocha(^-^)

  2. Hi, very interesting post and beautiful photos! I only recently learnt about Kagaboucha and it is very hard to find in Europe. Do you also sell Kagaboucha to Europe (UK)?
    Thank you! :)

    1. Thanks Mojca-san, I’m afraid to tell you that I don’t handle Kagaboucha at my shop. Come and visit Kanazawa, hahaha.

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