Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention as we have all heard. This tea is an instance of that. It was developed by a tea purveyor Kyoto in the 1920s who had some unsold tea that was beginning to age. Instead of throwing it away he roasted the tea to give it some new life. He found that people really liked the roasted quality and it has been a hit since then.
Modern houjicha is not made with old tea. Fresh tea roasted to a lovely reddish brown color in porcelain pots. The roasting removes catechins from the tea, so that it is a smooth tea without astringency. It also removes most of the caffeine. The tea has a nutty, roasted, slightly caramelized taste to it. This tea is ideal with food or for an evening cup of tea.