Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Upton Tea Imports: Japanese Ku-Ki Ho-Ji Cha, A Tea Review

This cold...allergies...bronchitis...thing is really knocking me off my feet. I think I spent the majority of yesterday as an amorphous blob on the sofa trying to play Minecraft. And when it became too hard to focus on Minecraft I downed some PM Cold & Flu medicine and became an amorphous blob in my bed. I think I have spent the past month in one constant state of physical misery and would like to go on the record to say I would like a vacation from my body now. Good news though, we had our first freeze last night so if it is allergies that means they will calm down soon. Today I am reviewing a tea from my notebook because I cannot do a new tea justice with this sore of a throat.
You can tell this is older, I am outside!
Today's tea is a Japanese tea from Upton Tea Imports, one Ku-Ki Ho-Ji Cha, a hojicha that is made from kukicha (or as some might know better, twigs) and predictably roasted. I love hojicha (or houjicha) it is probably one of my favorite Japanese teas because it has a huge comforting effect for me. I first discovered it in the form of tea bags when I was recovering from gallbladder surgery and it was so soothing. It has become a go-to tea when I am under the weather or just in need of some liquid comforting. Holy Roasted Sticks, Batman! The aroma of this tea is intense, almost too intense. All I can smell is the intense roast aroma and no real nuances of the leaves (err, actually twigs) it is one of those kick in the face sort of aromas. I should point out it is pleasant, just make sure you sniff it from a distance. Consider yourself warned!

As to be expected introducing the twiglets to some hot water mellowed their aroma out a bit. There is still a strong roasted aroma but it is now joined by notes of earthiness and malt. There is also a very tiny hint of caramelized sugar that sneaks in as an afterthought and following it is a touch of astringency. The stick-less liquid is much the same as the steeped leaves, milder with an added sweetness to the aroma.

Points to Upton for having one of the strongest hojicha I have yet tried! I should point out that the flavor that is so strong is a sweet roast with only a tiny tiny hint of smoke. There is also an underlying taste of pine needles that leaves a lingering sweetness on the tongue. Imagine the distinctive taste of roasted marshmallows with only a quarter of the sweetness and a hint of pine needles and you have this tea. As the tea cools it takes on a slightly vegetal aftertaste similar to green beans. How does this compare to other hojicha? Well for one it is made from roasted twigs which seems to make it a touch sweeter and less vegetal than the typical roasted bancha leaves. I like it, I will keep it on my hojicha arsenal and certainly say it is among my favorites.


  1. thanks for this - learnt something new! will keep my eye out for these 'twiggy' houji-cha (houji-cha is also one of my favs)!

  2. This hojicha sounds grand. I love the sound of pine needles and roasted marshmallows.