Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hibiki-an's Houji Karigane

I'll cut to the chase. This tea is good, but it failed to elicit the same excitement and passion for houjicha that Den's Houji Kukicha awoke in me earlier this year.

Nice and toasty, a sweet finish, no astringency to speak of, but somehow lacks the pizazz of Den's. The prices are comparable, but you can only buy Hibiki's in 200 grams, meaning if you choose to try it, you better have plans to drink it for a while. Also, Hibiki's is less flexible. With Den's, I couldn't make a bad cup, but this one has turned on me once or twice.

Still, as I said, this is a good tea, but I'd rather have Den's. It would be interesting to try the two side by side and see if I'm full of shit.

Edit: I realised later that I wrote this assuming who ever reads it knows what kukicha and karigane are, which are essentially the same thing, Japanese twig tea. Kuki (twig) cha (tea). Karigane translates to wild goose or something. From what I have heard, karigane generally refers to kukicha from Uji. If you didn't know this, you might have been wondering why I was comparing kukicha to karigane.

Please read the comments for further disscusion on the true nature of karigane vs kukicha.

17 comments:

Soïwatter said...

I never tried this kind of tea. The leaves have a realy unordinary shape. It would be interesting to taste it.

Summer said...

I haven't had this either. My first thought was that you had cinnamon tea. Which wouldn't be my first choice for a whole cup.

I love reading your posts. You clearly know tea, your clearly not pretentious about it and your frank "I may be talking shit" honesty is completely refreshing.

Thank you.

Space Samurai said...

: ) your welcome.

Anonymous said...

I've had Hibiki-ans regular Hojicha, I think its a good quality tea but I've had better. My favorite was from Rishi. Not the one they have now but one they had last year. The perfect mix of leaves to stems and not roasted so dark that that's all you taste is the roast. For me, boiling water and a 45-60 sec. steep gets me two good pots. After that its done.

Wes Crosswhite said...

Then there's also the side that says karigane is the stems from gyokuro, while kukicha is the stems from sencha. Then I've also heard a reputable person or two say there's no difference at all, just different names (karigane being the more eloquent one).

Mary R said...

You also assumed that your devoted reader base would know that the "houji" part of the name means that the kukicha/karigane has undergone that toasty roasty process of deliciousness. :)

It's been so long since I've had a good houjicha that your post makes me want to go order both right now! Must...hold off. Credit card...needs...break!

Space Samurai said...

That's right, Mary; I draw the line there. If you don't know what houji is, you can gtfo.

Kevin said...

Karigane are absolutely the stems which come from gyokuro, kukicha is from sencha - you can take that to the bank. The taste profile is considerably different.

Space Samurai said...

In that case, the term karigane is being miss used, because I've had Hibiki's gyokuro karigane and sencha karigane. Indeed they are quite different, but the sencha karigane is exactly like any other kukicha I've tried. In this case I'm pretty sure their houji karigane is just roasted kukicha, and the comparison to den's is appropriate.

But now I just want to try real houji karigane...

http://anotherteablog.blogspot.com/2007/10/sencha-and-gyokuro-karigane.html

Tea Escapade said...

I just purchased kukicha as part of a green tea sampler from Adagio Teas. I plan to taste and review today for the first time so I am excited to see this post. Are there any particular brands of Kukicha that you prefer over others?

Stephen said...

I've always found this tea has strong grassy undertones. But maybe its me I'm not a great fan of Japanese teas.

Karen said...

I just stumbled onto your blog, so "hi" to all.
I never got around to trying Rishi's plain first-flush houjicha, but I the peppermint-ginger caught my eye and fancy. I was able to buy a tin at Whole Foods (cheaper than on Rishi's site, I might add) and I loved it, although I thought they might have boosted the ginger and cut the peppermint a bit--a minor quibble. Unfortunately, it seems to have vaporized, and the only houjicha they now carry is plain and not first-picked (their offerings in general seem to have been reduced). Alas...
I REALLY like Hibiki-an's houjicha karigane and have turned a number of others on to it as well. I get three tasty steeps if I brew for a total of 15 seconds, plus I soak the used leaves overnight in the refrigerator and have a fourth brew, but chilled. Not a terribly expensive indulgence, really.
H-a claims that "karigane" refers to the stems of first-picked tea, and "kukicha" to tea picked later. Works for me--I find that karigane is a sweeter, more refined taste. But it's a personal thing.

Kimi said...

Random commenter here. A little late, but just to clear things up, I researched on the Japanese wiki exactly what 'Karigane' tea is (and how it differs from kukicha). Below is just me paraphrasing from the wikipedia pages, so don't consider me personally as an expert on anything.

Kukicha is literally, 'twig tea'; so, it is, as most seem to understand it, tea made from the stems of the tea plant. Typically, these are made from young stems. Of course, kukicha can be roasted (hojicha).

'Karigane' tea is a special name for kukicha made from high grade sencha; which includes, but is not limited to, gyokuro.

An interesting bit; 'shiraore' is said to be made from the twigs leftover from the production of gyokuro and sencha; this being one type of kukicha. However, the name 'shiaore' is noted to be replaced with 'karigane' in Kyoto (and, as I might assume, in the general Kansai region).

Basically, 'shiraore' and 'karigane' are the same, and that they are a type of kukicha known for their high quality.

Kind of long-winded, but I hope that was helpful!

forex robot said...

TEA affectionadoes should never miss on this one..I really like its rare bland of taste.

computer repair houston said...

I wonder if I can buy this flavour around here.

online clothing store said...

Generally Houjicha is made with various tea leaves. So many green tea lovers in Japan search far and wide for Karigane. My family drink houjicha tea all the time in the winter.

ritungn6@gmail.com said...

Laptop Repairs in Mississauga. Our state of the art hi-tech computer lab to help diagnose the faulty part, and of course provide you with a range of options on what is need to ensure you're back online in no time. computer repair in mississauga