Master Obayashi’s Hijiri Hojicha
A dark roasted Japanese tea with a sweet tobacco taste from the Obayashi family who have been producing award-winning teas completely naturally for over 30 years. On their small farm of about 10 acres in Okumikawa, Aichi they have maintained many of their 100 year old Yabukita trees just like the locals in these mountains who often keep a row of old tea bushes or yamacha ('mountain tea') as they call them. These simple country teas are either produced by hand or taken after picking to a small factory like the Obayashi’s one which helps make many of the local people’s tea.
Hojicha is one of our absolute favourite styles of Japanese tea and when done well can rival roasted teas from China and Taiwan many times the price. This tea made of a blend of green leaf and twig which is roasted in small batches seasonally by Obayashi-san's grandson, who has recently started to take on more responsibilities on the farm. This batch arrived in April 2018 and is roasted medium-high with notes of tobacco, caramelised fruit and toast.
Due to the roasting and the high percentage of twig in the blend, this hojicha has less caffeine than many other green teas and would be suitable to drink in the evening or after a meal.
Obayashi Tea Farm, Okumikawa, Aichi, Japan
SIZE OF FARM
PLANTS AND PROCESSING
Camellia Sinensis Sinensis, Blend of seed grown Yabukita cultivar/Yamacha (Zairai shu) leaf and twigs. Medium charcoal roasting. Harvested and roasted 2017.
90°c, 3-4g per cup. 2 infusions.
Master Obayashi is an amazing force of nature. He has been making delicious hand picked green, black and roasted teas without pesticides for almost 40 years since he was first asked to make tea for the Emperor of Japan. People from the surrounding villages, all about 700m above sea level, use Obayashi’s tiny factory to make local yamacha or mountain tea from the ancient tea bushes close of their houses or in their back gardens.
Master Obayashi’s teas have won numerous Ministry of Agriculture awards and his tea has been selected as a tea for the Japanese Emperor. The first time was around 35 years ago and prompted him to stop using any pesticides. All his teas are hand-picked.The image below shows Obayashi-san standing in front of his field. A local activist, he has been responsible for running and preserving an ancient festival held just after New Year called Hana Matsuri which we visited in 2008. This area’s sacred and spiritual connection especially with Ise Jingu, the most revered shrine in Japan, as well as the quality of the tea is the reason why Obayashi’s tea has often been selected as a tea for the Emperor of Japan. When he was first selected to make tea for the Imperial family over 30 years ago, he decided to stop using any pesticide on his ancient tea trees.