Hojo Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

88

I am drinking the 2016 version of this tea. Assuming that age matters more than year of production and I can review it here.

The taste of the tea has changed since I bought it. Earlier there was a more aggressive edge to it that has now mellowed off. It glides in very smoothly now. I don’t mind a stronger taste myself but the joy of this tea, as Hojo likes it, is in the aftertaste which is really powerful and long-lasting.

I don’t have other white teas to compare with (though last year I sampled all Hojo’s offerings) so take my recommendation for what it’s worth but I really enjoy this tea.

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8.1g, 90mL zisha teapot

Each session I realized I wasn’t getting the most out of this tea, so I bumped it up each time from 4g to 6.5g to finally 8.1g today. Now I finally see what this tea has to offer.

Very smooth. after the first few steeps, this huigan hits you and just keeps going and going I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a huigan that lasts this long. It just doesn’t stop, very pleasant.

Its fruity, sweet, fresh apricots, solid flavor but not intense.

Balanced all the way. There’s just enough bitterness in there and a hint of astringency to keep you going and provide a “backbone” to this tea, but unless you’re looking for it, you won’t notice the bitterness or astringency. Very subtle kuwei.

The aroma coming form the cup is really strong, as I am smelling it right now from the cup sitting on the table next to me as I type this. aroma of sweet apricots perfume…

I wonder if Hojo vacuum sealed this tea for the last 4-5 years (2012 tea drank in 2017)? Perhaps there is a method to his madness in vacuum sealing? He’s preserved the high notes and that apricot-ness unique to fresh sheng, but also mellowed the harshness of fresh sheng. Its a dampening/mellowing effect similar to how white tea ages.

It seems too smooth and soft to be fresh, but too floral/apricot-like to be 4 years old.

The aftertaste goes on an on…very nice. Hojo’s ambition is to produce a long lasting aftertaste and he did very well here. A lot of times with other shengs I get an initial sweet aftertaste, but then it will turn to a dull mushroomy paper flavor that is not so pleasant. This tea however, is able to maintain that fresh ripe apricot sweet aftertaste the entire time, it never turns mushroomy blandness. Due to the very subtle bitterness, I think the reason is because after the aftertaste fades, a very subtle huigan returns to prevent that mushroomy flavor. Its so subtle in the transition from aftertaste to huigan, you don’t even realize it happened. I would have to say this is the most hidden/subtle huigan I’ve experienced. That is the reason for this aftertaste that lingers so long.

Hojo is a rather controversial vendor for his methods and claims about aging, but I think the proof is in the pudding here. Is this the best sheng I’ve ever had? No. Is it a very good sheng? Yes! Is his vacuum sealing method of aging working? In this case, I think so. Not sure what will happen after 20 years, but after 4 years I am pleased with the results today.

Lastly, this tea put me to sleep. Very relaxing and sedating. Don’t drink this at work or prior to operating motor vehicles or machinery.

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drank Gu Shu Yinzhen by Hojo Tea
40 tasting notes

4.5g, 220mL porcelain teapot, 2x rinse, 1-2 minute steeps. Tall collins glass. Don’t recommend gongfu brewing this tea, it needs to steep and get some strength to it. This was not a sample but a 50g sachet.

Leaves were intact. no jerky or smokiness for me.

Full bodied, thick liquor, a dark yellowish color, buttery aftertaste, smooth, really nice. Its not a relaxing tea for me, its a tea with some energy that could easily get me going in the morning. I feel like I want to go workout now…without caffeine jitters.

There is a slight astringency on the long finish after 1-2 glasses. And some cooling huigans. The loooong finish is where the sweetness returns. I mean like 5 minutes later you start getting a honey-like green/grassy sweetness. It hits on the lighter/ higher register of flavors, but they’re not distinguishable of anything in particular.

I enjoy it. Its on the ‘delicate’ side of flavor, but on the full side of body and mouthfeel. If you’re familiar with the profile of a majority of Hojo’s tea, they are about aftertaste and body. This hits both qualities really well. If you want a fruity tea, pass on this. If you want something that feels good to drink, with a pleasant flavor, this is a good tea.

I chose to drink this tonight because I needed something that didn’t have a ton of flavor, I’m sort of suffering from sensory fatigue overload tonight and needed something fulfilling yet simple and easy to sip on. The (lack of) flavor was perfect for this occasion.

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brewed with Nosaka oxidation hohin, dried aroma and steamed aroma is a very rich enticing matcha green tea aroma, makes you want to eat it.

liquor is light green, lighter than I’m accustomed with sencha. mineral notes, floral after taste, grassy/herbal undertones, pine freshness. Everything in moderation, a touch on the light side of flavor. Aftertaste was moderate, didn’t notice much of it linger. I also couldn’t oversteep this, I tried.

Sedated me, I had to lay down for about 45 minutes….twice. I really wasn’t expecting that! I guess that’s testimony to the age of the tea trees, supposedly 200-300 years old. I think it would be easier to validate the age of Japanese tea trees vs puerh teas, since a lot of Japanese tea gardens are many centuries old passed down generation to generation.

In puerh world we’d call this a “stoner” tea. Also some stomach warming (lower dan tien area) cha qi. Also body warming, later in the evening finishing the session I started sweating and face grew warm/flush.

Solid afternoon tea if you want to take a nap and snooze for a bit.

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drank Uji Sencha Jubuzan by Hojo Tea
40 tasting notes

Brewed in a Nosaka red clay hohin with oxidation firing from Hojo.

Very impressed with this tea. I drank it after a session of Hojo’s Tsukigase Zairai
Sencha, and I prefer this better. If I can make an analogy, Uji Sencha Jubuzan is to Tsukigase Zairai Sencha as Jinxuan oolong (milk cultivar) is to Qingxin oolong, if that makes sense.

The dried leaves have a savory rich aroma similar to matcha. I used various teacups including a silver cup. I find teas out of a silver teacup are a touch thinner, but this tea remained thick and full bodied no matter what teacup I used.

After the first sip I got a wave of drunkeness and head-spin, and was glad I was sitting down. I guess I wasn’t prepared for that. I centered myself and continued.

The aftertaste continued to build. It was on the lower register. A rich, creamy, thick, savory, semi-sweet aftertaste just sat there on the center rear of my tongue. It gradually coated my tongue in an creamy manner, but not cloying. A touch of dryness prompts me to take another sip. This is decadent. I need to drink this next to Hojo’s Hon Yama Hebizuka. I wasn’t expecting this to be so good. I really enjoyed this tea, its on the dessert side of teas, decadent, semi-sweet, thick, rich, and filling.

The aftertaste seemed to fade away after a short time, but the creamy mouth coating and sensation on my tongue remained and increased as the session continued. At some point there is a blended confusion of mouthfeel and flavor/aftertaste, and its hard to tell where either one starts or ends. When I take a new sip, the flavor peaks, but then fades back and blends with the oily mouth feel, reminding you of what you just drank. Much different than the sheng puerh aftertaste I am accustomed to. Perhaps that’s why I mixed things up with sencha tonight :)

This tea is relaxing and makes me want to lay down, head qi, warming qi, drunken qi, never experienced this from sencha before. Not getting caffeine jitters either. This is good tea.

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This tea is very very good, and very high quality. Hands down the best jasmine pearl I’ve ever had.

My history with jasmine pearls is a bumpy road, I’ve tried many always wanting to like this style of tea. But most jasmine pearls get too strong and bitter, drying/astringent, or they’re too weak and faded, and most don’t have much jasmine taste or aromas after the first or second steeping. And not to sound like Goldie Locks, but Hojo’s jasmine pearls are “just right”.

I cooled the water slightly from a boil by passing it through an Akitsu Mumyoi teapot I got from Hojo, using the teapot as a samashi (cooling pitcher). I poured the slightly cooled water into a tall glass, with just enough jasmine pearls to cover the bottom of the glass.

This tea lasted over 5 steepings before beginning to fade (that’s 5 full glasses of tea).

Super long, pleasant, and strong aftertaste of sweet jasmine with a touch of honey. No bitterness, no sour, this is a wonderful tea to have after breakfast. The flavor just goes on and on and on…this lasts longer than a lot of puerh I’ve been sampling recently. I’m very impressed with this tea.

Believe it or not there’s quite a lot of huigan in this tea too. A pleasant cooling effect in the mouth and throat.

Not my usual indulgence, but wanting to mix it up today, and this is something I see myself returning to more often in the future. This is good!

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Sweet

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Drinking this right now as I pack up beginner bags for people and each sip just brings ‘holy shit’ to the front of my thoughts.

The creamiest of all shengs I’ve ever encountered; rather mind blowing how creamy it is. Though the texture alone is enough to make me say this is in the top of all pu’erh I’ve had, there is a floral note at the back of the mouth like an aroma coming from the back of my throat and a slight sweetness at the tip of my tongue.

This is an absolutely wonderful tea which has now caused me to seek out more Hojo products. Maybe the Japanese palate for pu’erh is much different, through it’s all personal preference. As the steeps go on, it gets more of a sweet note coming through that the really young pu’erhs tend to have while bringing forward a more leaf vegetal taste. Beautiful tea, couldn’t have picked a better one to do what I am doing right now.

Ahhhh, I want more.

Rasseru

omg dont. I love creamy sheng above all other sheng

Zennenn

Why do I have so many sheng samples to get through before I have an excuse to buy some of this?

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60
drank Gu Shu Yinzhen by Hojo Tea
11 tasting notes

I’ll review this tea again in the future as I don’t feel this review is totally fair. The sample I had, had a lot of broken leaf in it so that is of course going to lead to a lower quality cup. In the event a second sample I receive comes in that quality this’ll be a different story.

So based off of what I was given…

I used 5.5g/120ml, 85C water, first brewing was 10 seconds +5seconds per each additional brewing.

The aroma reminded me of jerky. Initially you are met with the jerky-like taste. In the liquor it vaguely reminded me of Lapsang. There was a slight hint of green beans. In the after taste there was hints of melon and raspberry. The liquor was incredibly buttery and smooth. There was a hint of astringency.

In the second cup most of that jerky and smokiness had disappeared. A gentle green bean flavor was on my tongue along with spinach or collard greens. In the after taste there was raspberries and melon.

The liquor for the third brewing was a lot darker. The overall taste still had the green bean flavor except it was a lot stronger. There was a tiny hint of raspberries in the after taste. Despite the fact that the after taste has been extremely weak, I liked it.

The liquor for the fourth brew didn’t have much flavor and was more astringent. The after taste remained the same. The same for the fifth so I stopped drinking.

Flavors: Green Beans, Melon, Raspberry, Smoke, Spinach

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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49

A lot of what this company says sounds wrong.

It would be interesting to read a review of this tea.

andresito

What do you mean, what is it that sounds wrong? Did you drink this tea?

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As of now its my fav young-er shu. No wudoi or fermentation flavor. On the sweeter side of shu probably because its golden tips. Not drying, nor astringent. Medium body, very smooth, easy to drink, easy on the stomach. Its my daily drinker. Gives me a slight boost of calming energy (if that makes sense) without the caffeine jitters. First sip is honey with earth, then a bit of mouth watering without any flavor, then the almond honey aftertaste appears a few minutes later. Extremely pleasant and lasting aftertaste.

At first it seemed underwhelming because the flavor faded quickly, but this tea is about the aftertaste. The more I drank it the more I mixed it into my “shu” rotation, and found myself coming back to it and preferring it over my others. I understand why it sold out so fast. I hesitated ordering it initially, and then saw it was sold out, so I asked anyway and luckily Hojo let me buy one of his last 2 cakes (which I suspect he was keeping for himself).

Brewing: two flash rinses in a gaiwan then put the wet tea into a tumbler and brewed it grandpa style, topping it off with more hot water as it gets low. Medium longevity, lasts me 1.5-2 Liter tumblers with 5g tea.

Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Earth, Honey

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85

Dry leaves had a strongly and pleasing sweet/green aroma. Sorry that I could not specifically describe; sometimes I felt that it smelled like a sugary candy or some sweet-ripe fruit. I brewed the tea at a bit lower temperature (90 C) and used more amount of leaves (10 g/100 ml). The color of the liquor was yellow. The mouth-feel was very smooth, pleasant and mouthwatering. It’s not a “bitterness turn to sweetness” tea but like drinking a soft white one. The flavor contained a slight honey sweetness, and no bitterness, smokiness and astringency. The slight sweetness and particularly sweet aroma coating on my palate, mineral-spiciness on my tongue lasted more than half an hour. After 10 steeps, there was no sweetness but the tea soup, with a bit more bitterness and astringency, still was aromatic and drinkable.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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92

This is a bang for the buck entry level Oolong for someone who is just starting to get into this varietal. The flavors are of sweet lychee, dried mango and even rambutan with a slightly bitter lingering after taste like you you got a good whiff of some nice smelling perfume.

Flavors: Lychee, Mango

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 7 OZ / 200 ML
Tip Jar Traveler

I managed to get 20 infusions out of this leaf before its flavor fully disappated.

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80

this tea is awesome!

however it has lost its freshness (probably due to moisture). even though its been opened 3 times :( it seems this tea is the only tea that ive tried that looses freshness fast.

so i rate it 80 and cannot do a full review

i do note the coffee/espresso taste and it does have a sour smell to the leaves. but it tastes great still

however i do thank my friend paola for this awesome tea

Flavors: Coffee, Espresso

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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42

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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95
drank Asamiya Sencha by Hojo Tea
603 tasting notes

a nice tea :)

when i smell the leaves dry, they smell nice and grassy.

when i smell the leaves wet, they smell nice and grassy and sweet.

when i smell the brewed tea, it smells sweet and grassy.

when i taste the brewed tea, it tastes sweet and grassy.

many thanks to paola for this nice tea :D

Flavors: Grass, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 250 ML
Indigobloom

Love the consistency of your reviews Kirk! Have you thought about adding a comment about why you rate a tea at a certain level? (ex. if you like smoother teas, or it has more/less flavour?)

Kirkoneill1988

That’s a great idea. I’ll try that next time :D

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75

an ok tea

when i smell the leaves dry, they smell grassy :)

when i smell the leaves wet, they smell grassy again.

when i smell the brewed tea, it smells sweet and grassy

when i taste the brewed tea, it tastes sweet and grassy

many thanks to paola for this nice tea

Flavors: Grass, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 250 ML
scribbles

it sounds quite good – I like grassy, sweet notes :)

Kirkoneill1988

Somebody stole my tin of karigme. :’(

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99
drank Karigane by Hojo Tea
603 tasting notes

An update:

this tea can get bitter with small mugs so im removing a point 100 —→ 99

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99
drank Karigane by Hojo Tea
603 tasting notes

some how my can of this tea has returned. i still don’t know who first stole it and who returned it.

this is still a tasty tea. sweet and grassy :D

some sad news:

i accidentally broke my Tim Horton’s mug :(

Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 250 ML
TeaBrat

I hate breaking cups, it happens far too often.

Kirkoneill1988

doesn’t happen often to me :/

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99
drank Karigane by Hojo Tea
603 tasting notes

someone stole my tin of this tea :( i wish i had it back

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99
drank Karigane by Hojo Tea
603 tasting notes

an awesome tea

little glass pitcher, grandpa style:

when I smell the stems dry, they smell nice and sweet and similar to asparagus.

when I smell the stems wet, the smell is intensified.

when I smell the brewed tea, it smells sweet and like asparagus.

when taste the brewed tea, it tastes very sweet and like asparagus.

NOTE: the following comment does not affect the score

only if this tea tasted more asparagusy

also it was hard to strain the stems in the little strainer while pouring the tea into the cups so it managed to get a little bitter on me

many thanks to paola for this amazing tea

Flavors: Asparagus, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 6 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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86

This tea left a lasting impression. It’s aromatic and robust like a good long jing, but has more tannin and mineral notes. It’s sharp, flowery, grassy/herbal, and piney, with a very long sweet finish that reminds me of a good sheng pu’er. It’s refreshing sharpness is makes it a perfect morning pick-me-up. I’m thinking of getting more now to take advantage of the weak yen.

Flavors: Flowers, Herbs, Mineral, Pine, Vegetal

Preparation
2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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87

A sencha made from 200-300 year old tea plants? Definitely worth trying. This wasn’t as “different” as I expected, but it was pleasant. Good lasting aftertaste, and it does indeed have a bit more of a minerality to it than a standard sencha, as the lengthy description of the tea on the vendor’s website suggests.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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The tuocha of the day came from Dag, thanks!
It’s a pleasantly sweet one, with a nice whole wheat crust’ kind of taste.
Later steeps feature some cedar as well, & I should have more to say about this, but but sorry, that’s all I got.
Oh, & this is my 3rd sip down of the day, with an remaining balance of 375 teas.

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88

Jummy oh so jummy for the tummy :)

Still the only Shu I like. Les oomph when brewed in a glazed pot with water from electric kettle. Still a nice earthy fruitiness! Smooth and somewhat sweet in contrast to the earth flavour. or is it peat? who knows?!?
Will stick to preparing this in a reductionfired pot with water from tetsubin.

Tomorrow i will try to try out a very nice sheng! While watching the Big bang theory of c ;)

Keep sipping tea and enjoy life when possible!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 14 OZ / 400 ML
KittyLovesTea

Such a happy note to finish on :)
I wish you Happy Steeping Dag Wedin.

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