What is Hojicha
The process of making hojicha first came about in Kyoto, during the 1920s. It is believed that roasting the leaves over charcoal was a way for merchants to make low grade tea more desirable.
The leaves of this roasted tea have a crimson-brown colour, along with a strong, nutty aroma.
The teaware used for hojicha is the same that you would use for sencha. However, it is advised that you use glazed teaware. Unglazed teaware is known for absorbing the flavour of the tea being brewed within it. If you brew hojicha in an unglazed teapot that you usually use for sencha, you run the risk of having the hojicha leave an impression on the teapot, and altering the taste of future brews.
Hojicha can be brewed within a kyusu, or a gaiwan. The leaves are large, making them unlikely to pass or clog a filter.
Brewing parameters for hojicha can vary by a large amount. In order to achieve a sweet, bold flavour, it is recommended to brew at a hot temperature for a medium length of time.
The amount of leaf is roughly 1.3 grams per 50ml. This may not sound like much more than sencha, but hojicha is lighter. In the example, 125ml of water is used. This amount requires two tablespoons of leaf.
Depending on personal preference, the time can vary from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. 1:30 is recommended as it gives the tea a robust flavour with sweet elements.
Begin the preheating process by passing a small amount of water throughout your teaware. Hojicha requires a very high temperature, and preheating with the same water used for brewing will result in too low of a infusion temperature. Dispose of this water once you have splashed it through all your teaware.
Place the hojicha into your now semi-preheated kyusu (or gaiwan). Pour boiling water into a cup, and then directly transfer it into your teapot. Allow the tea to steep for one and a half minutes, and then pour evenly into your awaiting cup(s).
Caffeine in Hojicha
The amount of caffeine in hojicha is greatly diminished, if not negligible. This is because the roasting changes the properties of the tea.
Although everyone can enjoy hojicha, the drink is often served to children and the elderly in Japan. It also can be drank in the evening, and even before going to bed.
For a second infusion, steep the tea for 0:30 seconds, at 95C (203F). When it comes to a third infusion, brew for 1:30, at the hottest temperature possible.