I bought it because I needed to add a few dollars to my order to get the free shipping, and I like kukicha, so I was a bit curious about it. And it was cheap, only $4 for 2 oz. I didn't expect much; I didn't expect anything, really. I've never been fond of houjicha. I just assumed I'd drink a cup or two, then let the rest sit there until it was time to throw it away.
See also: Ume Shiso.
I open the bag and I can smell toast, like, with a capital T. It's visceral. Just smelling it I can feel it, taste it on my tongue, hear the sound of it, of toast. If you don't like toast, I can see how this wouldn't be your thing, but I didn't mind a bit. There was also something greener lingering faintly beyond the toasty aroma.
After cautious experimentation, I settle on regular sencha brewing parameters, 4.5 grams/7-8 oz of water for 1.5 minutes. Den's recommends using boiling water, and they aren't wrong.
First infusion tastes like a yan cha, roasted, heavy hints of cacao, and a sweet finish. Its not nuanced or sophisticated but warm and yummy. Its filling, like genmaicha or mugicha. The second infusion is less roasted but much sweeter. I have yet to get a good infusion past the second. Even steeping it as long as 6-7 minutes only yields tea flavored water.
Looking at this picture, I can see bits of green leaves that I didn't notice before.
I think as an every day tea, I will tire of this soon--I have been drinking a lot of it the past few days, but it was a wonderful change of pace, and I look forward to trying other roasted Japanese teas that I have overlooked.