Happy New Year 2019 to you all.
I go back few months ago to a tea introduced on Thés du Japon last November, but that remains perfectly seasonal.
It is Hoji Oolong from Hon.yama.
This is a hoji-cha made from not a green tea, but a semi-fermented tea (semi-oxidized), so Oolong type. The producer of this original tea is Mr. Takahashi, known for the formidable Kôju.
He uses an Oolong made from second harvest, cultivar Benifûki.
Unlike roasted Oolong which are heated at a relatively low temperature for long periods, here it is a hoji-cha, ie heated at high temperature for a very short time.
Halfway between a classic hoji-cha and a roasted oolong, the result is most convincing.
The first infusion is the one that comes closest to a hoji-cha with its very warm aromas of dry, waxed wood, grilled dry herbs, and roundness on the palate. Yet we already feel something sweet, a little floral and musky.
It is airy and refreshing, while bringing warmth to the body and the soul thanks to its aromas.
Much more than a classic hoji-cha, this tea allows several infusions. These are just the depth of this tea, because they bring very different feelings.
The simple aromas of roasting disappear gradually in front of richer perfumes, then getting closer to roasted oolong, with the appearance of light and fine bitter notes evoking a little Tieguanyin.
The aromas are both more floral and fruitier, reminiscent of ripe fruit. We still have very warm aromas but more incisive and stimulating.
More ahead still infusions, we feel raisins and spices.
This aromatic force, both on the nose and in the mouth, makes this tea much more than a curiosity, an experiment that is fully justified.
This is one of my very big surprises and satisfactions of the 2018 season (I do not know if the experience will be reproduced in 2019), a rare and original delight. It is also a successful exploration of methods for exploiting second harvests in an economically viable way, while more and more small producers stop making a second harvest, the production costs being sonetimes greater than the selling price in the case classic Japanese green teas.