Candy Leaf Hojicha

Tea type
Green Tea
Char, Roasted, Savory, Seaweed, Soy Sauce, Umami
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Edit tea info Last updated by Cameron B.
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From Hugo Tea Company

This tea is agrochemical-free.

CANDYLEAF HOUJICHA is an autumn production of roasted tencha from Wazuka (lower Uji), Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Here, our asanoka matcha producer, Ui-chan, roasts material usually destined for grinding into matcha to produce houjicha (“roasted tea”). It’s highly unusual to use this material in houjicha; but then, Ui is a highly unusual tea producer.

The material is a blend of cultivars (primarily zairai—"native species"—of mostly unknown genetic origin). In early spring, the trees are heavily fertilized with fermented plant and animal byproduct, shaded for 20 days under nylon tarps, harvested and within 24 hours processed from aracha (“raw tea”) to tencha (“ground tea”). Tencha making is labor-intensive. The raw material is steamed, cooled, dried, destemmed, deveined, and sorted before going into cold storage. Each year, the tea Ui doesn’t have ground into matcha is roasted to become her signature houjicha.

Houjicha can technically be produced with any Japanese green tea, but is most often roasted bancha (3rd or 4th flush material, usually from the autumn harvest). Generally, older leaves (not to be mistaken with the age of the tea plant itself; older tea trees are desirable) that grow further down the individual branches are considered unsuitable for sencha, and either processed into bancha or roasted into houjicha.

Ui makes ichibancha (first-flush spring tea) houjicha as well, but this year we favored the uniquely deep richness and attractive leaf of her first-flush tencha. This lot of 2021 material is toasty and sweet, offering comforting notes of liquid caramel and burnt toast. Experiment with steeping parameters; Ui’s houjicha is forgiving and nuanced in several formats and through multiple steeps.


(use freshly boiled spring water)

modern, large format
[300 ml+ vessel — BOLI, large teapot]

4 grams — 200°F (93°C) — 3 minutes

traditional, small format
[150 ml- vessel — gaiwan, small teapot]

7 grams — 200°F (93°C) — 20 seconds
+30 seconds each additional steep

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1 Tasting Note

1480 tasting notes

So, it’s been a while, and I’ve got some new notes coming on the way. I needed to take some time for myself, so here’s how I’m doing it.

I opted to try out some new samples from Hugo Tea, and 4 of them were recently released. I really looked forward to this tea since I’ve not had Hojicha since my birthday, and was deeply excited for a new varietal called candy leaf for the tea.

I expected something roasty, and nutty, but I did not get the caramel described. I definitely got savory soba soy sauce notes, and a huge dollop of fishy seaweed and umami. I used 4 grams, rinsed 5 sec, brewed it 20, then did it again for 3 minutes. The 20 seconds was the fishiest, and the 3 minutes was more subdued, but I wasn’t a fan.

I’ll try this one again, but I was not as impressed with this one as the other teas I sampled.

Flavors: Char, Roasted, Savory, Seaweed, Soy Sauce, Umami

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