How to roast black tea at home (black tea hojicha)

Making hojicha with black tea: a fun (and cheap) way to broaden your tea repertoire

Do you sometimes find black tea a bit too strong? Or do you have some black tea that you don’t enjoy so much as is, maybe because it has lost its aroma or it has too much acidity?
If so, then you may want to try roasting it!
Black tea hojicha is a delicious, deep roasted version of black tea that has a mellower flavor and less caffeine than regular black tea.
In this article, we will explain how to roast black tea at home using regular black tea.

Advantages of roasting tea at home

Have you ever heard about hojicha?
Hōjicha or houjicha (from the Japanese 焙じ茶, which translates as roasted tea) is, just as its name suggests, a tea where the tea leaves are roasted.

Roasting the leaves brings out a toasty, nutty taste and a very soothing aroma.
Hojicha also has a milder flavor compared to regular tea, so that many people find easy to drink even if they are not big tea fans.

The taste of hojicha has been gaining so much popularity in Japan, that nowadays you can find it in many desserts, in a similar way as matcha.

Hojicha is also known for having less caffeine than other teas since the roasting process reduces the caffeine content in the leaves.

That makes roasted tea a good option for those who are looking for a less caffeinated beverage or to drink tea at later hours.

And in addition of all this, hojicha is also very easy to make at home.

You can find the leaves already roasted in many online shops (also in teabags or in powdered form), but you can also roast them at home, and it’s really worth a try because:

  • You probably have the equipment you need
  • It’s done in less than 10 minutes
  • It allows to repurpose tea that has gone old
  • You’ll kitchen will smell ridiculously great

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Can you roast black tea at home?

Yes!
While hojicha is traditionally made by roasting green tea, there are some tea vendors that offer hoji-wakocha (roasted Japanese black tea) or kocha-hojicha (hojicha from black tea).

And as with green tea hojicha, you can also make roasted black tea at home.

The process is basically the same than when roasting green tea, although the result will be different, as black tea and green tea taste and smell differently too.

When roasting black tea you’ll end up with a toasty and mild, almost sweet cup of tea, with a caramel-like fragrance that has much less astringency than regular black tea.

Tricks to roast black tea at home

Making hojicha from scratch is quite simple: you just have to roast tea in a pan.

Finding the sweet spot around the temperature and time you need with your hot plate is also quite easy in most cases.

But there are a few tricks that will make sure your hojicha black tea hojicha will be just perfect.
Most of these points are as important when roasting green tea as when using black tea, but the last one is specially important when making hojicha with black tea:

Tips
  • Make sure your pan is really clean and dry:
    I can’t stress enough how important this is. If there are oil or odor residues in the pan, they will end up in your tea and it won’t be so good.
  • Roast the leaves in small batches:
    While the roasting process, time and temperature won’t change no matter how much tea you use, you will be able to roast more evenly when all the tea is in contact with the pan.
    This brings also the perk that if you don’t get the expected results, you won’t be sitting with a whole lot of tea.
  • Move your tea during roasting:
    This will help to roast evenly and avoid any leaf to get burnt.
  • Be gentle while moving your tea:
    I find it more convenient to avoid the leaves from breaking into too small pieces.
  • Use medium heat tending to high heat:
    The goal is to be able to roast the leaves for around 1-3 minutes without burning them.
  • Be extra careful not to overdo it:
    You can roast your tea deeper or lighter depending on your liking, but anyway, it only takes a couple of minutes until you have your hojicha ready. So, stay present!
    When roasting green tea, you can appreciate some color changes in the leaves. We are aiming the tea to get yellowish or brownish hue, but not black: that would mean they are burnt.
    But since “black” tea leaves already have a dark color, it may be more difficult to appreciate its color change during roasting.
    Also, black tea has already been roasted before coming to your pantry, so it may burn quite quickly.
    That’s why I suggest starting by roasting for 1-2 minutes if you are new at this, instead of relying on appearances.

How to brew black tea hojicha

Once roasted, you can steep your hojicha right away or store it for another time.

Depending on how strong you like your tea, you can use between 1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon of black tea hojicha per cup.

Water temperature

You can brew black tea hojicha in the same way than when brewing regular black tea, with freshly boiled hot water at around 100ºC (212°).

Steep time

The main difference is that because of the roasting process, hojicha doesn’t need as much time to steep as regular tea. Around 1-2 minutes will be enough to steep your roasted black tea.

Cold steeping

You can also cold steep black tea hojicha with cold water for 2 hours at room temperature (or in the fridge overnight).

Best ways to enjoy hojicha made from black tea

Since the roasted tea tastes much milder as the original tea, I find it enjoyable to even without adding any sugar, but you can also sweeten it.

You can enjoy it hot or as iced tea.
When served cold, home roasted black tea is very refreshing and its reminds of a mild barley tea (mugicha).

Because this tea tastes so mellow, I recommend adding more tea when making milk tea with it (around 1-2 Tablespoons per cup).

How to make hojicha with black tea

You can make hojicha by simply roasting tea in a pan.
That said, I got better results following the tricks of the so called Gatten-method.
This is a way of roasting tea that got attention in Japan through a lifestyle TV broadcast named Gatten.
While seeing all the steps may make it seem complicated, it’s actually very simple.
And these small details summon up, making the hojicha much more fragrant.

Below are the steps to make hojicha from black tea with this roasting way.
You can also watch it on video.
The video shows the process with Japanese green tea, you can apply it all one-to-one for black tea:

Time needed: 10 minutes.

DIY roasted black tea

  1. Preheat pan

    Heat a clean and dry pan for around a minute. Pre heating pan to make DIY roasted tea

  2. Carefully check the pan is ready

    Turn off the heat and place the pan for on a damp towel for a couple of seconds.
    There should be a “shhhh” sound. This means the pan is hot enough.
    It also helps make the heat even. 
    Preparing pan to roast hojicha tea

  3. Dry tea

    After taking the pan away from the towel, put the tea leaves on the pan. Cover with the lid and leave it rest for 2 minutes.
    This step takes moisture away from the tea in a gentle way so you can to roast less time.
    Drying black tea at home

  4. Roast

    When the resting time is over, take the lid away and roast the tea with medium to high temperature.
    Keep the tea moving.Roasting black tea at home

  5. Turn heat off when there is some smoke

    Just 1-2 minutes after beginning to roast, there may be a little bit of smoke.
    This is your sign to turn off the heat, but you can still move the leaves for a couple of minutes, roasting them with the remaining heat of the pan.
    You’ve succeeded if your tea has a roasted scent (not burnt).

  6. Use the tea now or save it for later

    You can steep your black tea hojicha right away (with hot water or cold steeped).
    If you aren’t using it, you can store it like regular tea, in an airtight container.Steeped cup of back tea hojicha

FAQs about roasting black tea

Is hojicha a black tea?

No, traditional hojicha is made from green tea leaves and is therefore a type of green tea, regardless its brownish color that reminds of black tea.
It just looks darker than green tea because unlike other green teas, its leaves get roasted at the final step of processing.

Is black tea already roasted?

Actually yes.
The final step of processing black tea consists of roasting or baking it at around 80-90 degrees Celsius (175-195 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20-25 minutes.
This dries the leaves, slowing down the oxidation of the tea and making its shelf life longer.
It also removes the “raw” taste that the tea leaf could have.

What’s the difference between black tea and hojicha?

Both tea types come from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), but they often use different cultive varieties: hojicha is made from tea variations that are better suited to make green tea out of them (because regular hojicha is a green tea).
Also, while both teas are roasted, the roasting process for hojicha uses higher temperatures in a shorter amount of time.

How much caffeine is in black tea hojicha?

Since roasting black tea to make hojicha is still a quite uncommon practice, we couldn’t find any detailed data about caffeine content in hojicha made with black tea.
However, since the roasting process in hojicha reduces the amount of caffeine, you may expect less caffeine in roasted black tea than in its non roasted form.

Which black tea types work best to make hojicha?

You can use any type of tea you have, but hojicha is specially good to recycle tea that has gone stale or that you don’t enjoy so much as is.
I’ve tried making hojicha with Darjeeling and English Breakfast Tea and I liked how both turned out after home-roasting, even when they were both quite old.

SUMMARY

Roasting black tea at home is easy.
When you roast black tea in a pan, you get a milder tasting tea with a roasty, caramel-like fragrance that may have lower caffeine content as regular black tea.

Have you tried roasting black tea at home?
I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to give hojicha with black tea a try – it just might become one of your favorite preparations!

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One Comment

  1. I never imagined that it’s possible to prepare hojicha from Black tea. It’s such a nice idea! Thank you so much for explaining everything with such detail.

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