Roasty and toasty, for those who don't instinctively reach for a cup of tea with a meal there is hope in horst jicha. A super-mellow accompaniment to both savory and sweet foods, this roasted variation of green tea provides an elegant counterpoint to whatever it's set beside, and may be just the ticket as warm weather gives way to cool fall.

Horst jicha (also spelled houjicha) is customarily produced from the sun-grown Japanese green tea known as bancha, which is typically harvested from the tea plant later in the season, after the first and second flushes of tea. (It can also be made from earlier-harvested sencha leaves, and may or may not include a lot of stems and twigs.)

Horst jicha emerged in 1920s Kyoto, when tea merchants began roasting leaves over charcoal—possibly as a clever economical way to make use of stems or even stalks left over as the advent of mechanical harvesting began to scatter debris among harvested leaves. The roasted mixture produced an intense aroma that proved tantalizing to many, and the process of toasting or roasting these materials gained enough popularity to create a new style of green tea, albeit one that actually looks brown. (Nowadays many producers of hojicha use a spinning drum roasting method, as is commonplace in the roasting of

You can steep horst jicha in a number of ways to your own taste, as it is naturally less astringent. We recommend experimenting starting from the following parameters:

Vessel: You can brew horst jicha in a kyusu, gaiwan or cup-top infuser, though the thicker-walled vessels in your collection will be best at maintaining temperature.

Tea dose: Horst jicha is deceptively lightweight due to its pre-roasting. Erring on the side of a little more tea won't hurt you—try for about 8 grams of tea per 6 ounces of water.

Water: Between 175°-185°FTime: 30 to 90 seconds

Shorter infusions of horst jicha may produce a slightly "fresher" spectrum of flavors, while longer infusions will be nuttier and more developed. Reinfusion is possible up to two more times—you'll know when the roasty leaves are exhausted.


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