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Recent Tasting Notes
I had my first cup of Hojicha at Hakone in Japan. It was served for dinner and at first I wasn’t sure what it is was as it definitely did not taste like tea…sweat,mellow…slight malty, caramel-like aftertaste. A hint of vanilla at the end.
Since then I am a great lover of this tea and have it regularly in the evenings. Going to bed right after is not a problem at all.
The Japanese use very hot water for this brew and they let it steep similar to a black tea.
But play with it and adjust to your own preference.
Still playing around with this. I tried it at a slightly lower temperature tonight – 58C – mainly because I got called away while the water was cooling. This worked pretty well, though I think the flavour comes through better when the water is that little bit hotter. I still like the second steeping the best.
I did three steepings of this. All three were good but the second was the best. Very, very green, rich and grassy and smooth with hints of other things beneath the surface taste. This is a tea that I’m going to enjoy exploring until my limited supply runs out. Two teaspoons of leaves per cup, steeped for 45 seconds in water at 68C.
Oh, blah. Too long since I made this and I got the temperature too high. The first half of the pot is okay, but the second half is astringent to the point of bitterness. Damn. It was so nice to get my kyusu out again for this too. I’ll try this one again tomorrow and see if I can get it right next time.
Taking a slightly different approach with this tea this time, since I didn’t get it quite right the first time I tried it.
The first steeping was pleasant, fairly light, not overwhelmingly grassy. The second was exactly what I’d been hoping for from this tea: richer in both colour and taste than the first, with the flavour leaning more towards seaweed than grass and with none of the bitter edge that occurred the first time I tried out this tea. This time I increased the proportion of leaves to water and decreased the water temperature and steeping time: two teaspoons of leaves per cup, water at 70C and steeped for one minute.
I wanted to try a really good sencha, so I ordered this from a place that specialises in Japanese green teas. I steeped it for two minutes in water at 77C. This produced a pale yellow brew with a light seaweed-like aroma. The taste was delicate and smooth. The second steeping produced the richer flavour that I’d been expecting, but I didn’t get it quite right and I ended up with a cloudy, darker yellow brew that was edging towards the bitter. I will keep experimenting with this one!
Another Japanese green from my order from raku-cha. I used my default green tea steeping: two and a half minutes in water at 75-80C and it seemed to be about right for this tea. It has a bit of a grassy aroma, similar to other Japanese teas, but it’s not overpowering. It produces a bright yellow brew and the taste’s really not bad – plenty of flavour but a lot less earthy and woody than I was prepared for. I actually like this one quite a lot. All in all, it was a pleasant surprise.