I am delightfully full of smoked pork BBQ, so it makes sense that I would want a tea that is very proud of its smoky roast, it is the theme of the evening! Yunomi.us was kind enough to send me samples of two of their teas to review and this blog post will cover the first, Houjicha (Smoky Roast) by Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations. Before I actually start discussing the tea, I want to say a brief thank you to Yunomi for having some of the most informative packaging ever. This simple brown foil package states not only the typical name and type of tea, but also the plantation that produced it (and its address) a use by date, storage instructions, and where to get very detailed steeping information. Bravo, Yunomi, and thank you for giving the tea consumer more information!
These leaves captured Autumn!
Enough poetic waxing on packaging and on to the actual tea! Houjicha (Smoky Roast) is a tea that calls to any who love a roasted tea. In fact the Smoky Roast is Obubu Tea Plantation most heavily roasted of their Houjicha, and of course I had to try it because I love smoky and roasted teas, they might be one of my favorite type of tea treatments. The first thing to notice is of course, the aroma. This Houjicha manages to embody everything wonderful about late Autumn and early Winter and it is heavenly. The sweet earthiness mixed with the smoky roast gives that clean, smoky aroma that the air takes on that time of year. It mixes piney resin without the campfire smoke of teas like Lapsang Souchong. The sweetness is like burnt sugar which blends well with the woodsy aroma. A very complex aroma that my fancy tea books that I read would describe as 'empyreumatic' and you all know I am fond of using fancy jargon.
Once steeping the leaves take on a rich almost coffee like aroma, very rich and very roasted. This is a tea I could recommend to an avid coffee drinker to convert them to the tea brigade! I just love how rich and slightly nutty the aroma of the brewed leaves are. I do not, however, like how much fail my paper filters are made of. Note to everyone, Melitta coffee pot filters are not good. The liquid of the brewed leaves is also incredibly rich and pleasantly sweet! Notes of roasted nuts and pine resin with a finish of caramelized sugar.
First brew looks like Autumn leaves!
The first steeping is intensely complex! Certainly the most complex Houjicha I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. I had one of those actually audible, lip-smacking 'aaaaah' moments when I first sipped this tea, which I believe is actually frowned upon in my formal tea drinking occasions. The joys of being home alone when drinking tea! The tea is very rich and very bright, the mellow sweetness mixing with resinous smokiness again captures the joy of late Autumn. Along with these flavors there is a slight astringency that is just so slight that it is very pleasant and adds a slight surprise. There is a tiny, tiny after taste of umami which just made this complex tea perfectly well rounded.
The next steeping is slightly milder but still manages to maintain its richness and adds just a touch of maltiness. I love the roasted taste of this Houjicha, it is such a perfect tea that just brings joy with every sip. I certainly plan on trying all the different levels of Obubu Plantation's roasts (among other things from Yunomi) and cannot wait to try the other sample I got from them.