Monday, March 21, 2016

Tea Village Hojicha, roasted Japanese green tea

I've covered what hojicha is before, along with reviewing one, so this is about trying a different version supplied by the Tea Village shop in Pattaya, sent along with two other teas I recently bought.

The tea is relatively familiar, not so different than the others I've tried, but a quite decent version.  Hojicha in general is a roasted green tea distinctive for using the branches / sticks of the tea plant in addition to the leaves, or even mostly instead of leaves.  In other words it's made from bancha, a green tea version that includes more use of tea stick material.  It's only most commonly made from bancha, per a reference from Ricardo Caicedo, who writes a blog on Japanese teas, which I had cited in that first post.

The taste is close to toasted sesame, maybe just a little towards toasted rice, with a good bit of sweetness, in the caramel range, with a smooth richness and a nice clean taste.  There is no trace of astringency, and very little in common with the vegetal / grassy / seaweed effect some green teas can have.  It would make a nice everyday tea, a varied type to rotate in with other basics.

Ricardo and other sources have mentioned that this tea type is lower in caffeine, so it's sometimes used as a transition tea for children to drink in Japan.  I've researched caffeine consumption limits for a separate post I've not published yet and per that background caffeine wouldn't be a problem for most people based only on drinking tea, unless they drink a lot of it, maybe over two liters a day, a limit which would vary a lot by strength and type.  For younger children restricting any caffeine intake is recommended, per some relatively reliable medical sources, so although it's not that uncommon for some people to allow young children to drink limited amounts of normal tea that's worth considering.

As with any type of tea the strength or weakness depends on how someone's individual preferences relate to the type.  This one is definitely approachable, easy to drink, and relatively easy to brew tea, so the limitations might relate to someone not liking the somewhat unconventional taste profile, or the limited complexity of the tea.  A tea having a range of subtle aspects or the right kind or level of astringency can give it an interesting balance, but then I do like to drink different types of different teas depending on what I feel like at the time.

I'm reminded of two separate discussions about a very different type of tea, dan cong, a sweet, typically fruity oolong from China (which varies in taste profile by version), in which others commented that the light astringency in that type really helps to offset the strong fruit flavors.

It occurred to me that this might work well for blends since it does have a pleasant, rich flavor, that might work for mixing with other elements.  I don't drink or prepare much for blends myself, mostly just the odd masala chai, so it's just a thought.  Maybe with the right fruit elements this taste range could stand in place of a cobbler or pie crust, but adding a vanilla ice cream component to that would get tricky.

For readers in Pattaya--and I can't imagine there would be that many, although we visit there sometimes, in spite of the predominant "adult" resort theme not matching family vacationing--the Tea Village shop has opened a tasting room.  This expands their shop a little into the cafe arena, to compliment already selling a range of Thai and imported teas.

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