Yesterday I received my first order from Hojo Tea. it was a Tokoname rough clay mogake kyusu. I was very happy with it's looks AND functionality; these two qualities aren't always found together in the same kyusu. Unfortunately, I was almost out of sencha but I did have enough to try out the kyusu.
This afternoon I received my second Hojo order which was the tea I ordered shortly after I purchased the kyusu. I didn't expect it to arrive so soon. I had ordered a modestly priced sencha in my initial order along with a 100 gram can and 30 gram bag of Jasmine Pearl. The Jasmine was a gift for my neighbors so I ordered the 30 gram bag so I could try this tea before I gave them the unopened 100 gram can.
The sencha I ordered was G23J Kawane Zairai Sencha, 200 grams 3,300 yen. Hojo's better senchas cost the same per order in yen but are only 100 grams, so this one is about half the price. It is a light steamed sencha, a type which I have only recently become familiar with but am starting to prefer. As soon as I opened the bag I knew this was something special. I don't recall ever opening a bag of sencha in November that smelled so fresh. Earlier today I brewed three infusions of some excellent light steamed sencha from one of my favorite vendors, so I had something to compare Hojo's sencha with. Hojo's was less money than the other so I didn't think it was really a fair test. However, you've heard of David and Goliath? As good as the other is, Hojo's Zairi easily slammed it's more expensive competition into the ground. This comment isn't intended to insult the first, but to point out that even when you think you've found one of the best, an unknown competitor shows up and beats it. I give extremely high marks to both Hojo and this tea. Highly recommended if you like light steamed sencha, even if your budget allows the purchase of a more expensive one. I am truly impressed by this tea!
Although I'm no fan of Jasmine scented tea, I will comment on the Jasmine I purchased from Hojo; S01C Jasmine Pearl 30 grams 1,100 yen and S01C Jasmine Pearl 100 grams 3,000 yen. This tea is exactly as described on the Hojo website. It looks like other Jasmine pearls but when brewed is very clear and light in color without the brown so common with the others. The taste and aroma are also very light, crisp, and refreshing. The brewed leaves are very uniform in color, shape, and size and are not broken. This tea does not use extract but rolls the green tea pearls with Jasmine flowers multiple times until the desired scent is achieved. A few pearls, not even enough to cover the gaiwan's bottom, easily yielded five infusions from the 3 ounce gaiwan. Since I never cared much for Jasmine I can't say I'll rush to replace this when it's gone, but I will say this much; if I were to purchase Jasmine for myself in the future, this is the one I would go for. As a gift for friends who do like Jasmine, I would also purchase this one for them without hesitation.