Sunpu Boucha - 2010 1st Harvest Hon Yama Kuki-Hojicha

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Green Tea
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150 °F / 65 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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  • “Got a little sample of this free with my latest Norbu order, and because I want to get to sleep early tonight, I figured a low-caffeine tea was just the ticket for my first taste of the new stuff. ...” Read full tasting note

From Norbu Tea

Sunpu Boucha is the name given to this excellent Kuki-Hojicha, or roasted stem tea. Shizuoka was known as the Sunpu Domain until 1869, and Boucha literally means “twig tea.” This particular tea is comprised of stems, twigs and leaf material from the Hon Yama growing region taken during the first Spring harvest of 2010. Hon Yama is a bit of a confusing appellation, since it denotes tea grown on the hilly/low mountain slopes along the banks of the Abe and Warashina (a tributary of the Abe) rivers in Shizuoka instead of a specific county or prefecture. Hon Yama is one of the oldest tea cultivating regions in Japan, and its foggy, mountainous terrain is reputed to produce some of the highest quality & sweetest tea in Japan.

Stem teas are not very widely known or appreciated outside of Japan, but they are well loved in Japanese tea circles for their nutty & sweet flavor and their reputation of having a lower caffeine content than all-leaf tea.

This is a lightly roasted Kuki-Hojicha that has a good amount of green leaf material blended in with the stems. The production of this tea is done in phases, combining several different roasts into the final product. Basically, they roast small batches of stems and leaves at different temperatures and for different lengths of time and then blend them together to create more complexity of flavor in the final product.

To my taste, this tea delivers a very complete drinking experience that balances sweet & roasted flavors with some of the elements of a greener tea. When tasting this tea, I get a warm, toasted, sweet and slightly “creamy” flavor on the front end from the roasted stems, followed by a refreshing “green” astringency on the back end from the leaf material. The infused liquor is a light copper color with a lovely & penetrating toasted aroma. It’s not an easy tea to describe for me, but I was completely hooked from the first time I tried it.

Because some of the leaf material is still quite green, we do not recommend steeping this tea above about 160°F in order to avoid extracting any bitterness from the green leaves that might throw off the balance in the steeped liquor.

Steeping Recommendation*
Leaf-to-Water Ratio (g/oz) 0.5 – 1 gram/1 oz
Water Temperature 150-160°F
Time – Steep 1
2 Min.
Time – Steep 2 30 Sec.
Time – Steep 3+
1 – 2 Min.
*This table provides general guidelines only based on our personal experience with this tea. Please adjust these
recommendations according to your tastes & preferences.

Please see our Japanese Tea Steeping Guide for more information, tips & troubleshooting suggestions for getting the most out of your Japanese Tea.

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1 Tasting Note

311 tasting notes

Got a little sample of this free with my latest Norbu order, and because I want to get to sleep early tonight, I figured a low-caffeine tea was just the ticket for my first taste of the new stuff. I very much enjoy a roasted toasted flavor in my teas, but the first genmaicha I tried was overwhelmingly toasty and not at all to my taste. I think this tea must be what genmaicha wishes it could be: warm toasty but also sweet and surprisingly, fruity!

I started with 2.4 grams of tea in my small gaiwans (about 75mL or 2.5 oz water per infusion), with water at 150 degrees. I used shorter infusion times than Greg recommends just because I’m a tea wimp and like most of my teas a little more dilute than average, and for the same reason I started on the lower end of his suggested temp range.

I started 30 seconds, then 15, 30, 45, 45. All infusions were warmly toasty, but not so toasted as to be bitter (in this very different than that genmaicha that I couldn’t really enjoy at all). They were also sweet, and where I was expecting some vegetal flavors from the green leaf, something alchemical happened with the toasted stems transmuting it into fruitiness. Wonderful, odd, but wonderful. Very very nice. The sweet n’ fruity faded with later infusions, but even at my fifth it was delicious (probably lasting so long because of my short infusion times).

This is a very nice tea.

150 °F / 65 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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