What is Houjichakai
Yuko Ogino started the world's first tea ceremony which she originally named “Houjichakai/ほうじ茶会”, or roasted tea ceremony, in January 2016.
It starts by roasting green tea and making Houjicha/ほうじ茶 (roasted tea) in front of the guests. In a traditional tea ceremony, the host chooses tea bowls/茶碗, but in her tea ceremony, guests can choose their own tea bowls.
In addition to drinking tea, the emphasis is on enjoying the aroma of roasted tea created when roasting. It works like incense. (Refer to the link for the power of the scent of roasted tea)
Various origins are discussed for Houjicha, and there is one view that it was invented in Kyoto in 1920s in order to refresh the tea left unsold and are getting stale.
There are some high grade roasted tea made from select quality leaves, but often the tea used for Houjicha does not use these high-quality leaves. "Kukicha/茎茶" is instead used as part of the extraction sources. These may be classified as second-class products, but the sweetness, umami, and aroma components are more abundant in the stem than in the leaves.
In Kyoto or in Kanazawa, drinking Houjicha has taken root well into daily life, and it is nothing rare to serve roasted tea on formal occasions. Even luxurious and modern restaurants in Japan serve Houjicha.
It is also possible to roast some aged green tea at home and turn it into home-made roasted tea.
Houjichakai hopes that you will feel the harmony found in sharing the given and limited resources among us, and even take advantage of what we think are not valuable anymore like aged tea leaves. Please feel at home and enjoy the relaxing smell of Japanese tea.