I believe this specific grade of Hojicha is called 雁ヶ音ほうじ茶 (Karigane Hōjicha), which is similar to Kukicha. The difference from Kukicha is that this form of Hojicha is roasted over a charcoal fire on porcelain.
This is one of the teas I ordered just before I went on my vacation.
This tea was only stems, as it is supposed to be. I did not find one leaf, so they did a good job of separating the two. The dry leaves smelled like the Genmai Cha I recently tried. Very toasty.
The color of the brewed tea was that of a Brandy or Scotch with a pinkish hue. It was also toasty, but not smokey. The flavor was very light, and savory. I could still taste the typical green tea flavor amid the toastiness. However, as toasty as the brewed tea smelled, I expected a stronger beverage.
I’m pretty satisfied with this purchase. Next time I’ll break the rules and steep longer to bring out more flavor. This tea was not very bitter, so I suspect that not much more bitterness should come out if I do so.