Houjicha Ichiban

Tea type
Green Tea
Green Tea Leaves
Asparagus, Chocolate, Grass, Nuts, Roasted Barley, Wood, Plant Stems
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Edit tea info Last updated by ZachMangan
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 11 oz / 326 ml

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From Steepster

Roasted in small batches, this houjicha comes from exclusive 1st flush leaves and stems. Constant monitoring during production ensures a perfectly balanced sweet (caramel-like) and salty (umami richness) flavor profile. A daily favorite at Steepster!

Kyushu, Japan

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26 Tasting Notes

15647 tasting notes

Steeped gongfu in my Houjicha dedicated yixing pot.

Thank you Starfevre for sharing this – it feels like ages ago you did, so I’m sorry I’m just now getting around to trying it…

This is from last Sunday; I had a whole giant tea picnic planned that I was going to take to the park, but it was ridiculously windy outside so rather than cancel everything or try to have a peaceful session outside during a dust storm I just had an indoor picnic instead. So in addition to steeping up this tea, I also had freshly sliced mangoes (a suggestion from Togo, I believe, to pair with my houjicha) as well as cannolis!

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxtNTZSg3vM/

The tea was nice; it immediately brewed up super strong. This is a fairly dark roast on a houjicha and the leaf itself is so stemmy – so that roastiness is immediately prevalent in the cup. It’s definitely a soba cha/roasted barley sort of profile primarily but it has the caramel/roasted nut notes that are often present in houjicha as well. Oddly, I found this almost boozy too, and I’m not totally sure what that flavour note was coming from but it was quite interesting, tasty, and complex. I felt like I was getting a big hug with each slurp of tea!

The cannoli was just perfect as a pairing; sweet pastry and creamy filling with dark roasted barley notes? Obviously that’s going to be a win. The mango was interesting; I actually enjoyed the two together quite a bit but it’s certainly not the sort of pairing I would have ever thought to put together on my own and I’m not totally sure why it worked either. I guess maybe the “pineapple and ham” effect where they’re just so different from one another that they come together perfectly!? It reminded me, though, of drinking one of Lupicia’s roasted barley teas that have the added fruit flavours: those are so dense and heavily roasted that they’re almost like black coffee and the fruit flavours are usually sweet and syrupy, so it’s like adding a flavour shot to black coffee. Incredibly strange – but still good in an unusual type of way. That was my experience with the tea and mango together…

Lovely indoor picnic though! It would have been nicer outdoors, but I’m just happy that I still made it happen in general.

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEmG-J5ssI&list=LL1M1wDjmJD4SJr_CwzXAGuQ&index=15&t=0s

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371 tasting notes

From the Here’s Hoping TTB.

Dumped the entire thing in a tea pot and brewed Western style. Steeping times: 30 seconds, 30, 60.

It slipped my mind to take a note of the dry/wet leaf aroma…so no word on that. Oopsies.

The only other houjicha I’ve had was the bagged kind (pyramidal and big squares) when I was back in Kyoto a few years ago. Whatever it was, it was inexpensive. So this is my first houjicha of a better quality, and I like it. It has a flavor profile with unexpected notes and it evolves (kinda). The first infusion tastes mostly like barely tea with a hint of chocolate, the second of Raisinettes, and the third – at this point, the leaf has weakened – of plain ol’ houjiacha.

I don’t particularly like Raisinettes but if it’s my tea, sure why not!

8 OZ / 236 ML

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1711 tasting notes


I don’t generally like senchas, but I do like houjichas. It seems strange since they seem similar. Oh well!

This tea has that roasty flavor that houjichas have. Almost a slight barley taste to it. I really don’t get the cocoa notes that it is supposed to have tho. The aftertaste lingers and is nice too.

Wow! This is my 500th tasting note! I feel like this is a milestone of some sort!

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Congrats on 500!


Thanks! I feel like such an accomplished tea drinker! :)

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57 tasting notes

This is my favorite Japanese tea so far. It has the roasted flavor of genmaicha but doesn’t have the grassy flavor I usually associate with Japanese green teas.

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188 tasting notes

Wow the dry leaf aroma is very powerful. Cocoa Puffs, toasted almond and the whiff I get when first opening a nori package. What an amazement when those aromas presented in the tea. Not so much the Cocoa but definitely the Puffs. Made 4 steeps drinking 2 at a time. Although I tried this at work in the morning I would really like this while watching Ran.


How have you found Steepster Select? I’ve been sitting on the fence, and as you tend to also like un-flavored teas….


I like it enough, but I’m not that much interested in some of the selection they include in the box’s. There is usually one each black, green, white or non tea (rooibos) and every once in a while an oolong. I have been giving away those I know I don’t like like the lighter teas and I try the traditionals. That said, I might not do another year, I now know what I like (oolongs) and prefer to spend my time and money searching these out. Hope that helps


It does. I’ve been falling pray to peer pressure, and seeing all the teas other people are tasting. But I did try some of Select teas from Upton and kinda found them to be sub par.


I think they need to move product. The other thing about Steepster’s box is some of the teas are offered by Steepster themselves so you can not purchase them. I found a local tea shop that suits me well, no more hoarding from the internet tea shops like years gone by.

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61 tasting notes

(1st steep: 2 min) My first thoughts on smelling this tea is that it might be the most toasted green tea I have had. It is unique compared to a lot of green teas I have tried. The aromas are more unsweetened cacao, wood, and roasted nuts. There are no vegetable or grass aromas. The aromas carry over to the flavors. I pick up lots of unsweetened chocolate and roasted nuts mixed with wood. I can’t quite put my finger on the wood except that it isn’t a pine resin wood flavor. Maybe something more like oak or a dry hard wood. Finally, there is a solid astringent finish to this tea that I am not used to from green teas. After the tea cooled, I am beginning to pick out some grass flavors. They are subtle but stand out a little more once the tea has cooled.

(2nd steep: 2.5 min) The second steeping of this tea presents a more grass aromas. The wood and cacao are still the primary aromas, but they don’t overpower the subtle grass aroma as much as the first steeping. Overall, the flavors are similar to the first stepping, but more mellow. I am picking up a slight green vegetable flavor that I want to say is like asparagus.

(3rd steep: 3 min) The third steeping of the Houjicha Ichiban the chocolate and wood aromas are almost completely replaced by grass and vegetables. However, there is a slightly sweet chocolate flavor that has appeared. It is not quite milk chocolate in the mouth-feel and flavor, but it is close. There is a slight grass flavor right before it is overwhelmed by the chocolate.

Flavors: Asparagus, Chocolate, Grass, Nuts, Roasted Barley, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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12 tasting notes

This tea from the February Steepster box is my first Houjicha. I find the first brew a little overwhelming in flavor, but the next steeps are great. I mostly taste the roasted grain and don’t find the cocoa flavor that others have mentioned. I like it for an afternoon tea with some shortbread cookies.

Flavors: Roasted Barley, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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2816 tasting notes

Good afternoon Steepster.
It’s been a very busy weekend for me and my Sweetie, sometimes he is a dynamo of energy. We went to 3 festivals yesterday and today we went for a hike. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that my arm hurts when walking sometimes, I wonder if I will ever be back to normal with this stupid arm injury.

Anyway it seems like a nice relaxing afternoon for tea. This came in one of the Steepster select boxes, and I ended up tossing the first steep because I thought it seemed kind of soapy, like I didn’t rinse my teapot out enough. I decided to dump the first pot out and start all over again with the 2nd sample after rinsing the teapot very thoroughly.

After checking out the second sample, I still thought this tea looked slightly “foamy” after brewing which seems kind of odd. I’ve had several houijchas that I’ve really liked but this doesn’t seem to be one of them somehow. I definitely get the roasted cacao quality but it isn’t flavorful enough for me and the finish seems slightly bitter somehow. I don’t know why but I just wasn’t a big fan of this and don’t want to drink the cup that is now sitting in front of me. Sorry Steepster. :(

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

Foamy? Maybe the tea is rabid ;)


sure seemed that way, lol

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31 tasting notes

An excellent green tea with the depth and complexity of a black or oolong tea. I am a big fan of the genmaicha style of greens and found this to have a similar palate of toasty, rice-like flavor which was supported by some notes of chocolate in the undertones. A fine tea, one I found very enjoyable, and look forward to drinking again. 9/10

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11 tasting notes

This was a lovely tea. The one flavor that came through for me was roasted grain. It produced a lovely, golden color. The appearance was different…lots of little sticks. That was a surprise, but out of that came such a lovely flavor. It reminded me a bit of roasted grain coffee substitutes, such as Roma. It even tasted good cold.

I waited too long and now it’s not available, but I’ll definitely put my name on the waiting list for more.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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