For a reason that I cannot seem to grasp, I have had a desire for Japanese and South Korean teas. Perhaps my somewhat limited experience with the products from these two nations, particularly South Korea, played a role in this desire. Although I have had most of the tea types that originate from Japan, I cannot say that I have the same level of knowledge as I have with Sri Lanka or India, for example. Thankfully, I do have a few samples left from my most recent shipment from Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms in Wazuka, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.
As I perused the various types of sencha, I came across the light roast hojicha and kyobancha. Both of these teas are of the roasted variety. After some research, I chose the kyobancha, as it is said to be not only difficult to find outside of Japan, but inside as well. This style of roasted green tea is produced only in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan, according to the informational sources I found. The Kyobancha leaves used by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms are harvested in March using the leaves that matured during the winter months. The leaves are not rolled, so they are quite light and fluffy. The leaves are steamed, dried, then roasted. Although I was not able to confirm the cultivar through my research, I am assuming it is the Yabukita.
Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms was the first Japanese tea farm that I had the pleasure of learning about in my earlier tea tasting days. They provide a noteworthy amount of information on each of their products on their webpage, http://www.obubutea.com/. They also offer tea internships! If only I had known of tea in my college days, I would have absolutely loved to have such an experience! If you are a student, or are fortunate enough to have the time and money to get away for a few months, check out their internship program.
The sample packet has been opened, and a robust, sweet, and woodsy sent is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform brown color. The leaves are all fragments, and range from crumbs to large fragments. There are also a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves are not rolled, and thus are light and thin, with a smooth texture. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse fragments. The larger leaves measure about 1.5 inches (43 mm) in length. The smell of the dry leaves carries strong scents of sweet wood, roasted nuts, light char, light molasses, and an overall earthy character.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. You can expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.
There are many different ways that you can prepare this tea. Since the leaves are roasted, there is little chance of scorching the leaves and creating a bitter brew by using boiling water. You may also use cold water and infuse for three hours to create a sweet cold brew. Also, this tea is very low in caffeine, so it is a good tea for evenings, and for caffeine-sensitive tea drinkers.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a orange-brown color and a light gold tint. The liquor is clear and transparent, with a considerable amount of coarse leaf particles. The aroma has scents of sweet wood, roasted nuts, light char, and wet autumn leaves. The body is light, with a smooth and clean texture. The taste has notes of sweet wood, char, roasted nuts, autumn leaves, and just a touch of dry grass. The aftertaste carries the notes of sweet wood and light char. In some ways, the aftertaste has a roasted character reminiscent of light roast coffee. The overall energy of this tea is very comforting. Given the snow falling and winter-like temperatures of Pittsburgh today, this tea has given my morning a little more warmth.
The infused leaves have a uniform tar black color. As mentioned above, all leaves are fragments ranging from crumbs to large pieces. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves have the feel of dried, cracked, thin leather, and the surface is more coarse than it felt when dry. The smell has scents of sweet wood, char, earth, and wet autumn leaves.
Having enjoyed the various roasts of hojicha from Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, I assumed that I would not be disappointed by the Kyobancha. That assumption was correct, thankfully. I consider the Kyobancha to be slightly more robust, earthy, and woodsy than the hojicha products, while the hojicha products are more refined. Whether I am drinking hojicha or kyobancha, the overall character is similar enough that both are highly comforting, warming, and satisfying. The Kyobancha Roasted Green Tea is another unique and enjoyable product coming the Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms.
Thanks to Simona, and all of the management and workers, at Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms for providing me with this sample of Kyobancha Roasted Green Tea. Cheers!