Roasting green tea in Japan’s historical Uji city

On this very day two years ago I was roasting sencha green tea in the outskirts of Kyoto. An easy day trip away Uji city was rather a pleasant detour to immerse ourselves in the country’s tea culture and learn with its tea specialists.

Making houjicha, an after-dinner tea

I’ve heard of roasting tea before but now I had this chance to do it myself, in Japan. With the tea instructor by my side at Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo, I learn that sencha – the most popular everyday green tea in Japan – is typically used for roasting when it nears its expiry date (think recycle!).

During roasting tea leaves lose most of their caffeine, making it a suitable drink at all times of the day or served to Japanese kids. The woody-look, toasty flavor tea is called houjicha (aka hojicha).

The roasting process is quite fun and one gets to master using the chop sticks too!

After roasting comes the tasting of our just roasted houjicha. Our tea instructor explains us that you have to pour tea little by little across all the cups to be served (you can watch this technique in the video below).

World-famous Uji tea

Uji is well-known for vast tea cultivation and high-quality tea production that dates back centuries. Over the years, Uji city has earned its reputation and the label of “Uji tea” is much appreciated. Although tea is cultivated across Japan, Uji’s tea gardens are the oldest and most famous in the country.

Green tea, and especially matcha, is offered in all its restaurants, cafes and stores from matcha ice-cream, to matcha-flavoured soba noodles, to exotic green tea sweets or solid parfumes.

Video of one day trip to Uji

Catch a glimpse of this small world-famous tea producing city!

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