Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Yunomi
Stems of high grade tea is called karigane 雁音. By roasting these stems in an iron pot, it becomes Karigane Houjicha. This particular product uses gyokuro tea stems from Uji, Kyoto.
This karigane houjicha is roasted in an iron pot over strong heat. Only the surface of the stems are roasted, retaining the flavor of the tea itself, because the inner part of the stem is not roasted. Both the strong aroma and taste of tea can be enjoyed.
Learn more about this tea here.
When I first read the name on the package of tea, I was overwhelmed by the name alone. What did any of that mean? The only word I understood was gyokuro and houjicha. I am always into trying a houjicha green tea from Yunomi.
By doing a little deciphering and careful read through the insightful description was I able to discern with little effort what all it meant. Karigane is a form of kukicha, which is stick tea, basically. But the thing about Karigane is that it is a cut above your average run of the mill kukicha because it is made from high grade teas, such as gyokuro. leave it to the Japanese to make the most out of everything they are given! After a good and strong roasting in an iron pot, the core of the tea is still intact, and the delicate nuanced sticks blending together with the roasted flavor I know and love.
The dry leaves (or should I say sticks?) looks quite unlike any other houjicha that I have ever seen. The leaves are a light straw gold. The roasted and slightly smoky aroma reached my nose and I was hooked. Steeping the leaves in my favorite kyusu revealed a comforting toasted cup of roasty goodness. There were some nice coffee notes hidden there somewhere, and it complimented everything in a way that was unsurprisingly lovely.
I have had plenty of houjicha in my time, everything from yama moto yama teabags and flavored kit kats to freshly fired bancha from a cousin on their latest trip and this really is the best I’ve ever had. I sense that this could be that it is from karigane, and I don’t think I’ve had karigane in roasted form in the past. The aftertaste this leaves is amazing. A mix of refreshing roasted sweetness with a slight smoke note at the end. As it cooled, it became sweeter.
I took this tea in a thermos for my most recent hike, and it was the perfect end note to a nice, quiet hike. I was lucky enough to miss the snowstorm during the hike, and sitting in the car and warming up to a big steaming mug of this tea really just hit the spot.