First off: a warning. If you happen to be a tea purist, you’re probably not going to like this tea. However, if you do enjoy green tea with a bit of a difference, then this one might appeal to your sense of the unusual! Culinary Teas Hojicha Gold Green Tea is certainly not a typical green tea in any way, shape, or form, but it is, nevertheless, sold as a green tea.
The main difference is that it’s roasted. This gives it a very distinctive roast aroma similar to coffee, or at least to some black tea varieties you can really smell the toasty, roasted scents both before and after you’ve brewed the tea. Interestingly, the tea leaves are brown, not green. A result of the roasting they’ve received, of course, but pretty strange for a green tea all the same.
Houjicha is usually made from bancha leaves picked in the final harvest of each season, with some varieties instead using kukicha, the unusual green tea produced from the stems, stalks, and twigs of the tea plant instead of the leaves. It is technically a green tea, but you’ll see from this Culinary Teas one why it is often mistaken for a black tea.
However, while black tea leaves receive their color as a result of the oxidization process, houjicha’s dark color is simply due to the roasting, so it does actually still contain the beneficial enzymes that make green tea good for your health these are destroyed by oxidization, not by roasting.
In fact, a lot of green tea fans are known to make their own houjicha at home, as a means of recycling old or stale tea leaves, by roasting old sencha leaves in a pan on the stove. It’s very simple to do, and a good way of ensuring that old or stale leaves don’t go to waste giving them a second chance at life, as it were!
However, a lot of tea companies do make houjicha from very high-quality leaves, as is the case with this particular variety.
Culinary Teas describe their Houjicha Gold Green Tea as follows: “The roasted green tea takes on a full bodied character with almost cinnamon toast-like notes. Delicious character that many tea drinkers enjoy.”
And indeed, the roasted flavors are probably the most noticeable thing about this tea, both in the taste and in the aroma. The leaves are of high quality, which means that there’s no bitter flavor apparent. It doesn’t taste like an average or traditional green tea, but if you like to experiment with different flavors rather than always seeking out a pure green tea taste, this one is sure to satisfy. And if you switched to green tea from coffee for health reasons, you are guaranteed to love it!
The roast flavors are almost strong and satisfying enough to fool your senses into thinking that you’re drinking (an albeit slightly strange) sort of coffee rather than a green tea! With the benefit, of course, of it being a green tea that will keep up your regular intake of antioxidants and healthful catechins. So, the best of both worlds, if you like!