Harney & Sons’ hojicha is actually a hōji kukicha: most hōjicha is roasted bancha leaves, while hōji kukicha is made by roasting the twigs that are a byproduct of mechanical harvesting of leaves for bancha. (They also sell a plain kukicha, made from twigs that haven’t been roasted.) In a funny little twist on tea making priorities, this twig tea actually has a few unextracted leaf fragments left in it, which drift to the bottom of the pot as it brews while the twigs remain afloat.
Amber-copper liquor, nice toasty smell. In fact, “toasted” pretty much sums up the aroma and flavor of this tea. There’s a little bit of tannic astringency from all the wood, but it doesn’t define the cup. I’ve never used milk or sugar with this one, but I suspect that adding both would produce something an awful lot like drinking a hot bowl of shredded wheat. There’s no traditional tea flavor to speak of.
This is definitely a comforting way to end a day, thanks to both the pleasant taste and the low caffeine content. Mike Harney writes in his book that the flavor of this tea closely resembles that of coffee, which I take as evidence that he doesn’t drink much coffee, but it’s definitely a nice option for introducing coffee drinkers (or lovers of breakfast cereal) to the tea world.