Category Archives: Heicha

Obubu Tea – Houjicha (Dark Roast)

My journey through the world of Japanese teas led me this time to houjicha. For those whom houjicha is just as new as it was to me I have written a brief overview in the next section.

Houjicha liquor with flower

Houjicha liquor

Houjicha von Obubu Tea

Houjicha leaves

Houjicha is a roasted green tea from Japan. The roasting process is the reason why Houjicha doesn’t look and taste like a green tea at all but more like a Pu-erh or maybe a black tea. This tea is usually made from bancha but sometimes also sencha or kukicha is used. As caffeine and catechins are degraded by the roasting process the tea is very mild and therefore not suited as stimulant.

Houjicha (Dark Roast) of Obubu Tea is, as the name suggests, strong roasted. The fragrance is woody and slightly reminds me of tobacco, pipe tobacco. That brings back memories of school days when I was sent by Mr. Haven, the janitor of the school, to buy pipe tobacco. That wasn’t a problem back in those days and surprisingly we all have survived that, sort of. But it had to be Borkum Riff Ultra Light and no other. However,  there was always a nice tip in for the delivery.

Back to tea: I steeped the tea at about 90 ° for about a minute, maybe a little more. The tobacco scent was persisting in the liquor too. In addition taste of dark chocolate and coffee joined the tobacco taste. Again, I see parallels to certain Pu-erh teas. Toasty and smokey flavors are only subtle while earthy tones are predominant. The liquor is shimmering chestnut brown in the cup – an unusual color for a green tea.

Tee in Gaiwan

Houjicha in gaiwan

As one can see I used a gaiwan to steep the houjicha. Of course, a kyusu or a dobin pot would be more suitable for a houjicha. But, since I always need to adjust to a new “tool” and I only have a 10g sample from the houjicha I rather don’t experiment.

The second infusion is much brighter than the first. This may be because I have exceeded the recommended steeping time during the first infusion. Also in the second infusion the woody, tobacco like and chocolate flavors outweigh but, now they are milder. The absence of any tartness or bitterness is still confusing me even though it is a key feature of houjicha.

Houjicha Blätter nach dem Aufguss

Houjicha leaves after steeping

The third infusion is similar to the second one is rather unspectacular. I notice that the tea runs out of juice slowly. Yet, I taste a new nuance – a hint of Indian masala chai. Though not quite as spicy and also the milky taste is missing. Obubu Tea recommends infusing the used leaves overnight in the fridge in order to make iced tea and get the rest out of the leaves. I will try this next time and also a the recommended houjicha latte sounds interesting.

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The Tea Mountains of Yunnan

Map of Yunnan

Map of Yunnan (Source: www.pratyeka.org)

Yunnan is located in southwest China and is renowned for its specialty: Pu-erh tea. The province is characterized by its special topography. To the north of Yunnan borders on the Tibetan plateau and rises up to a elevation of 6740m. In the south, however, it descends to only 76.4m above sea level into the infamous Golden Triangle. The different topography affects especially the climate which can be, depending on the location, between a tropical monsoon climate and a dry mountain air. These different growing conditions have the consequence that the character of the teas vary extremly depending on the growing area. The particular topography is also reflected in a very high biodiversity. Due to natural barriers many endemic species can be found in Yunnan. Among other things, its own permanent tea varietal: Camellia sinensis var thaliensis which was named after local Dai (Thai) minority.

Wuliangshan

Wuliangshan while cherries are blooming. (Source: www.en.gmw.cn)

The Six Famous Tea Mountains

Although tea and particulary pu-erh tea is is grown and produced throughout whole Yunnan, it’s primarily the tea mountains that made the province famous. Well known are the old Six Famous Tea Mountains which are located in Xishuangbanna prefecture of southern Yunnan. These are the old Six Famous Mountains:

Map of Six Famous Tea Mountains

Six Famous Tea Mountains (Source: www.teadb.org)

  • Gedeng Shan
  • Mangzhi Shan
  • Mansa Shan
  • Manzhuan Shan
  • Yibang Shan
  • Youle Shan

The Six Famous Tea Mountains were redefined over the years again and again. Some areas or mountains where added but often only the name but not the area itself. Currently, the following areas are considered as the Six Famous Tea Mountains:

  • Bulang Shan
  • Jingmai Shan
  • Menghai Shan
  • Nannuo Shan
  • Yiwu Shan
  • Youle Shan

Beside these Six Famous Mountains there are also other famous areas. Lao Bangzhan for example is currently totally hip and maybe one day it will be considered as one of the Six Famous Tea Mountains.

Tea Plantations Of Xishuangbanna

In the autonomous prefecture Xishuangbanna (in Thai Sipsongpanna, ???????????) are the majority and also the most famous and tea plantations located. Some are considered as the Six Famous Tea Mountains and maybe already mentioned above. But, for completeness, they are listed here again:

Karte von Xishuangbanna

Xishuangbanna (Source: www.travelchinaguide.com)

  • Bada Shan
  • Bulang Shan
  • Hekai Shan
  • Lao Banzhang
  • Menghai Shan
  • Mengson Shan
  • Yiwu Shan
  • Youle Shan

Tea Plantations Of Puer

The city Puer (formerly Simao) including the surounding villages form the commercial center of Pu-erh trade. This is particularly because of its central location within the tea plantations and because of the nearby Mekong River as waterway. But the whole Puer prefecture also contain some famous tea estates and was last but not least also the origin of the name of Pu-erh tea. The tea plantations in Puer prefecture include:

Map of Pu'er

Map of Pu’er

  • Bangwei Shan
  • Jiangcheng
  • Jingdong
  • Jinggu
  • Jingmai Shan
  • Kunlu Shan
  • Wuliang Shan
  • Zhenyuan

Tea Plantations Of Lincang

In Lincang are some of the worldwide oldest tea trees located. The presumably oldest tea tree is in Fenqing and estimated over 3200 years old. This is certainly attributable to the remoteness of the area. In densely populated areas, however, fire is often used for forest clearance by various ethnic groups to get agricultural land for rice cultivation.

The famous tea plantations in Lincang are:

Map of Lincang

Map of Lincang (Source: teadb.org)

  • Bangwei
  • Daxue Shan
  • Fengqing
  • Menggu
  • Yongde

This is only an overview of the many tea mountains of Yunnan. On the special features of each region will be discussed in later blog posts.

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