I HAVE MISSED EVERYONE.
Real life has pretty much put the brakes on my tea adventures. I don’t even have time at work to sip anything, and have resorted to drinking pretty awful bagged stuff (Numi, I’m looking at your fanning-frenzied teas, and they’re not hitting any of the sweet spots).
This weekend, I finally had a bit of room to breathe, so I decided to steep up some Houjicha, a tea from Samovar that I’ve yet to try.
So, let’s get talking about the dry leaves, because there’s some interesting stuff going on here. Houjicha is a roasted green tea, so the leaves are brown and very autumnal. Think dry papery leaves that have fallen off the trees come October. The ones you loved to jump around in as a kid. You’d go out of your way to step on them on the sidewalk. CRUNCH. Yep. Houjicha.
The smell is pretty intriguing as well, because it someone had stuck this under my nose, and asked what sort of tea I was sniffing at, I’d immediately shout out, BLACK. But I’d be wrong. Houjicha smells like a black tea. Not as dark as an assam, but maybe something like an extremely tippy yunnan. Something like that. It’s definitely smelling roasted, but not really in a coffee-like way. In a nutty sort of way. It’s intriguing, but the entire smell is a bit… plain. I don’t want to throw around analogies like Liptons-like, but it was sort of on the same plane of existence as a “default” bagged tea.
So I steeped this one up at a pretty low temperature (my Samovar sample bag said 160-180, so I went down the middle), and my infusion was surprisingly light in color. Amber-lite. Like if you had taken some fall leaves and stewed them down. Maybe I’m going a bit far with this autumn motif, but HAY, on the East Coast it’s getting cold outside! And that means, DRINK MOAR TEA.
The smell, now the smell of the infusion is really, really interesting. Very roasty, and toasty, but also sort of floral? It definitely no longer smells like a Plain Jane black. There is intrigue in the cup.
Sipping it, it’s clear that there’s a green tea under the heavy robes of brown. Because seriously, this tea is sweet. Very, very sweet, in a dark nectar kind of way. Maybe buckwheat honey, but less aggressive and assertive? There’s plenty of candied nuts notes – think hazelnuts that have been roasted and rolled in sugar – and it’s anchored by this sweetness that just lingers in your mouth. The sweetness that is what makes Japanese greens oh so wonderful. And the finish is long. Very long. In between sips, that sugared note just keeps going and going.
As it cools, it gets even sweeter. Seriously tastes like roasted sugar at this point, and it’s pretty damn tasty. It’s still one of the plainer, quieter teas, but I’m sure this would make an excellent session sipper. I’m going to steep a second cup up at boiling (according to Samovar, this invigorates the tea and gives us more malty-black-tea notes), and see what happens.
But yes, I recommend this one. It’s pretty interesting. And I wouldn’t expect anything less from Samovar.