Harney & Sons’ Hojicha

Hojicha by Harney & Sons
Green Tea / Straight
$5.00USD for 2oz

First Impressions

Hojicha was one of my purchases from Harney & Sons in SoHo when I was in New York City back in October 2017. I picked up the 2oz tin from their wall display of many, many tins because it’s honestly just a tea that I don’t often come across in Vancouver. The tea comes in a sealed silver packet inside of a the tin.

Hojicha consists of roasted tea twigs. That said, the tea consists of short, straight little sticks. I would definitely describe the aroma from the dry leaf as being roasted, it has an almost nutty smell to it.

Preparation

For green teas, Harney & Sons recommends steeping in 175°F (79°C) water for 1 to 3 minutes. My initial steep of Hojicha was for 90 seconds.

First Taste

Hojicha steeps to a beautiful golden orange and it retains a lot of that roasted nuts aroma. The flavour of this tea reminds me a lot of walnuts, and has that toasted element to its flavour profile from the treatment of the short twigs. It’s got a full-bodied flavour, with a great mouth-coating quality to it. Hojicha does not have a subtle aroma or flavour to it, I would describe it as being strong. There’s a subtle sweetness that I found at the end of each sip that I wasn’t expecting, and it made for a surprisingly complex flavour profile, which I really enjoyed.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Hojicha a total of three times (four steeps total), adding an extra 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found that the flavour got a bit sweeter for the first resteep, and began to wane in flavour for the next two resteeps. However, the toasted nuttiness remained fairly strong throughout, so it resteeped quite nicely.

My Overall Impression

I loved Harney & Sons’ Hojicha. I really enjoyed the flavours of this Japanese green tea, and liked the way it steeped. The little sticks sure packed a punch of flavour! I think it would be a great morning tea, if you need an extra little somethin’ somethin’ to get you going in the morning, and might make a good coffee replacement if you’re a coffee drinker.

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Teatourist’s Quintessentials Tea Adventure

Quintessentials Tea Adventure (March 2018) by Teatourist
£11-15 for 1 box, plus shipping (+£3-5 per box)

Teatourist has provided me with the Quintessentials Tea Adventure for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

This was the first month where Teatourist had updated packaging! I quite like it – the bright orange goes so well with the teal, and it’s less the sleeve, so there’s less packaging to go into recycling, which I quite like as well. This monthly box came with six different teas, and four of the six are straight teas! The only way I’d be even more excited about trying this box would be if this box contained fudge

The teas in this box are: Morgans Brew Tea by Morgan’s Brew Tea Company (black tea), Ceylon Tea by Cheeky Chai (black tea), Green Tea with Jasmine by Pure Leaf (green tea), Bright Afternoon by Brighteas (black tea), Earl Grey 1833 by CHASH The Fine Tea Co (flavoured black tea), and Safari Oolong by Nothing But Tea (oolong).

Morgans Brew Tea has a strong smell to it that reminds me both of a breakfast tea (think British or Irish), while having some apricot notes in the dry leaf. This straight black tea is a blend of a few East African black teas (from Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda). Ceylon Tea (Pekoe Fannings) has a mildly sweet aroma, and has a very familiar black tea aroma to it. Ceylon Tea consists of 100% small leaf ceylon tea (pekoe fannings). Green Tea with Jasmine smells exactly as expected (like green tea and jasmine) and, surprise, consists of Chinese green tea and jasmine flowers.

From left to right: Morgan’s Brew Tea, Ceylon Tea, and Green Tea with Jasmine.

Bright Afternoon has an interesting aroma that reminds me of a fresh after-rain smell, and has some mushroom-earthiness to it. The ingredients in this black tea are Chinese Keemun, Mao Feng, and Yunnan black teas. Earl Grey 1833 has a lovely bergamot/citrusy aroma to it, and smells like most Earl Grey teas that I’ve smelled in that past. Curiously, the ingredients are listed as being the finest Ceylon black tea and pure bergamot oil. However, there’s obviously flower petals in the blend that aren’t listed in the ingredients. Safari Oolong is the most intriguing to me, as it has a very light honey and floral aroma to the dry leaf. Safari Oolong is 100% oolong tea from Tumoi Teas, located in Nandi Hills, Kenya.

From left to right: Bright Afternoon, Earl Grey 1833, and Safari Oolong.

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Thinktea’s Matcha Set

Matcha Set by Thinktea
Ceramic, Bamboo, and Oak
$29.99

First Impressions

Last year, I was wanting to branch out and start preparing and reviewing matcha at home, which is the primary reason why I purchased this set from Thinktea (a brand available via Stokes Stores). This four piece matcha set consists of a matcha bowl (ceramic), whisk (100 bamboo prongs), a long handled bamboo scoop, and a Japanese oak spoon (where 1 spoon = ½ teaspoon). The one piece that I would say it probably missing is something to sift the powder to break up any clumps prior to whisking.

All the pieces seem pretty solid, the bowl has a lovely floral design on the inside and outside of the bowl. I’m not that familiar with what the difference is between the scoop and the spoon, so I’m not sure why both would needed.

Preparation

I gave everything a quick rinse under hot tap water prior to usage, you just never know how long everything’s been sitting in storage for or how many people handled it.

First Use

I am not a matcha expert, nor do I play one on television. The first time I used this matcha set, I used the scoop to transfer the matcha to the bowl and I wound up spilling some on my counter. I found the oak spoon a lot easier to use (and less spillage!), so my novice self thinks that the reason why both are included is that one is for novice matcha makers and one is for more experienced tea ceremony masters.

I whisked the matcha in an M (or W) motion until it seems well mixed and has some bubbles on top. You do have to whisk quite vigorously to get some foam action happening, so it’s both an exercise in making matcha and a small arm workout. I learned about preparing matcha from Kimmy of Whisk Matcha (when I met her at the 2017 Vancouver Tea Festival) so I’m somewhat confident that I’m doing it somewhat properly.

Overall Impression

I loved Thinktea’s Matcha Set. I kind of wish it came with some instructions for the very novice beginner, but I think for $29.99, it makes for a great beginner set. If you’re new to matcha, you don’t necessarily want to be spending a lot of money in your teaware right away because what if you decide that you don’t like matcha or you decide that your preferred way to prepare matcha is in smoothie.

For $29.99, you get a bowl, spoon, and scoop that’ll last you for quite a while (possibly forever if you don’t drop or break anything), and a whisk that’ll be decent for whisking up some ceremonial matcha. You could easily spend that much on a fancy matcha bowl alone (or a lot more). Of the four piece set, the only item that I can see having to be repeatedly replace would be the whisk, since it’s not meant to last forever, which makes this Matcha Set a modest investment in my matcha journey.

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