Thursday, July 4, 2013

Enhancing your tea by roasting - How to roast hojicha -

“The way to make you happy in 5 minutes”  On a TV program on NHK, they introduced how to make hojicha with such catch phrase.  Hojicha is tea made by roasting sencha or kukicha.  You can buy it from tea shops but you can actually make one at home by roasting your sencha.  I tried what I’ve learned from the TV program.  Did I get happy?  Please see what happened.

What you need:
Iron frying pan  (If you don’t have one, you can use a stainless pot.)
Green tea leaf: 15g  (Casual grade sencha 400yen/100g will be fine)

First, slowly at low heat
For the finish, rapidly at high heat

1. Pre-heat frying pan for 30 seconds at high heat

2. Place the pan on a damp cloth for 2 seconds to cool it down a little bit
This makes the pan even in temperature.  About 100gC/212F is the ideal temperature.

3. Place the green tea leaves by spreading into the pan
By placing tea into the pot, colorful green-tea aroma rises

4. Put the lid on and leave it for 2 and half minutes.
No fire, residual heat will do.

5. Open the lid
The leaves are still green.  I could smell rich fragrance already.  It has a green grass note and there seem to be some other aromas behind it.  I wanted to check them if I can find the various scent like mint, rock salt, flower, chocolate or orange.  But I didn’t have such time because I had to proceed to the next step before it will be over cooked.

6. Roast the leaves at high heat for 1 minute while stirring them.
I noticed that the odor was rapidly and continuously changing from one to another since I started roasting.  The green note became a roasted nutty aroma and then sweet smell. In 20 seconds, it already started smoking.  I guess that my stove was too strong.  I didn’t know what to do.  So, I just turned down the heat to medium and kept this processes for one minute.

7. When smoke starts to rise, put off the fire.
Keep roasting it with the remaining heat for another minute.
At this point, the odor was definitely different from the beginning.  I can acutely find the smoky aromas like cigar and cinnamon which were mentioned on the TV program.

Here is the pictures for before (top) and after (below) smoking.

Some leaves have a nice brownish color, but some small pieces are blackish.  I guess the heat was too strong on the 6th step, so small pieces got over cooked and  burned.  Besides that, it went pretty well.    I could not find all the smell that was mentioned on TV, but I experienced the fresh greenish fragrance changing into various roasted odor like nuts (hazelnuts??) and chocolate like sweet ones.  In the end smoky odor was added which is like cigar and cinnamon.  I had the nice woody smell not only in the kitchen but also in the living room and other rooms.  I asked myself if I’m happy now.  I was not sure if I was happy but I definitely felt good.  I loved the aroma of hojicha and was satisfied with the result.  The idea on the TV, “Aroma of hojicha makes you happy” or “The way to make you happy in 5 minutes” may not be totally wrong. 

There was another advantage!  I used old sencha for making this hojicha, which I didn’t like and didn’t consume much.  It has been kept for a long time at home.  But once it was turned into hojicha, it re-lived.  I prepared the hojicha and tasted it.  
Hojicha: 1.5grams
Boiling water: 80ml (2.8oz)
Brewing time: 1 minute

It was quite good!!  I couldn’t believe that it was my least favorite tea.  It is very smooth with a caramelic sweet flavor which is like a mild black tea without bitterness.  Every time I move the cup, the alluring earthy aroma was pervaded and pleased me.  After drinking, the faint aroma remained around me and my senses were surrounded with the delight for a while.  
Give it a try with your old senecha!  Now as I’m writing this article, I’m drinking hojicha with sugar and milk.  Now, I’m happy!


  1. Wow, I never thought of that. I do have some old green tea that I don't drink anymore because it lost its flavor. This is fascinating :)

    Also, do you drink hojicha with sugar and milk? I have never tried that either. I've always drunk it plain.

    1. Adding sugar and milk is not a common way of drinking Japanese tea. I usually have hojicha plain, but I sometimes enjoy hojicha with milk. They go well(^-^)

  2. Ah, interesting! I can try that sometime too :)

  3. Next time try to use oven, you can roast nuts this way also.
    Try using low temperature like 90C for a longer period of time (or alternatively if you are in hurry higher with shorter time)

    1. Thanks for your advice. Unfortunately, I don’t have an oven(^^;; But, I think an oven can cook it evenly. It might be worth a try!

  4. I just made hojicha with some old Chinese green tea (龍井) that has lost its flavor. It has a strong ceiling of bitterness with great toasty flavors underneath. It reminds me of popcorn. I don't think I would recommend this treatment of old Chinese tea, though. It's missing all the subtleties that hojicha is said to have.

    1. Wow, it’s very interesting that you tried it with Chinese green tea!! Thanks for sharing your experience. It doesn’t seem to work with Chinese one but I would like to try the popcorn-flavored tea, hahaha.