What are Roasted Teas?
Roasted green teas have become quite popular in Japan. These teas are made by taking green tea leaves and roasting them over high heat. During this process, the leaves change from green to brown, and the flavor begins to take on warmer notes of coffee, caramel and chocolate.
To learn more about roasted teas, we took a trip over to Takachiho, a small town in Japan’s Miyazaki prefecture.
Here in the mountains of Takachiho, Mr. Issin is hard at work crafting beautiful roasted teas to share with people all around the world. Mr. Issin lives on this small farm with his family in their 200 year old house. Right next to their house, he turns tea leaves into this incredible Hojicha tea. He also makes Kamairicha, a partially roasted tea in between Hojicha and sencha.
As we mentioned before, the roasting process reduces the amount of polyphenols in the tea, so instead of having this strong grassy flavor, it has a warmer, more chocolaty flavor. With the partially roasted tea (kamairicha) the leaves are roasted at a lower heat for less time and with the fully roasted Hojicha, the leaves are roasted at a higher heat for more time. To regulate the temperature of the pan, Mr. Issin can leave the metal lid on top in order to trap in more heat and raise the temperature a few degrees.
Because the Kamairicha is heated under a less intense heat, it still maintains some of its greener flavor profiles. The tea balances out these warm nutty flavors with notes of spinach and even a hint of seaweed.
On one of our trips to Shizuoka, we met with the owners of Marufuku to taste a few of their teas. They source their tea from all over Japan and then process it in this facility here. After a careful roasting process, they produce this incredibly fine Hojicha. For our visit of the facility, they decided to cold brew some of the tea for us to try.
Cold brewing extracts more of the sweet components from the leaves and less of the bitterness. This works great for Hojicha, particularly when it gets a bit warmer out. This cold brewed Hojicha was sweet and chocolaty and is definitely a delicious treat you can add to your routine if you have the time. Just add some leaves to a pitcher, pour in 500ml of cold water and let the tea sit overnight. In the morning you should have a refreshing pitcher filled with cold hojicha tea.