October 2021 - Kaga Bōcha from Kanazawa

This month, we selected a Kaga Bōcha (加賀棒茶) from the historical city of Kanazawa (金沢市), in the Ishikawa prefecture (石川県).

Kanazawa train station by 663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0

Kanazawa train station by 663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0

Kaga Bōcha

We already sent a Kaga Bōcha few years ago, in November 2015. Bōcha (棒茶) is a roasted green tea, as such it is classified as Hōjicha (ほうじ茶). But bōcha is produced exclusively from twigs, hence its name that means literally tea (茶) of sticks (棒).

Kaga Bōcha is a specialty from the prefecture of Ishikawa, and more precisely from the city of Kanazawa, but it is famous and enjoyed throughout Japan. It was invented during the Meiji area.

Kaga Bōcha has a pretty strong aroma, an amber like color, and a flavor that, although slightly roasted, remains fresh and without bitterness. Kaga Bōcha is great for either a meal or a desert.

Kenrokuen Bridge by Chris Gladis, CC BY 2.0

Kenrokuen Bridge by Chris Gladis, cropped, CC BY 2.0

Kaga Domain (加賀藩) and city of Kanazawa (金沢市)

The Kaga domain (加賀藩) was a wealthy domain of the Tokugawa Shogunate (徳川幕府), controlled by Maeda clan, a powerful samurai family. The domain extends around the castle of Kanazawa, in the former region of Kaga, located in what is now the city of Kanazawa (金沢市).

I recommend visiting the city of Kanazawa, it is magnificent. It is still a very active city to this day in traditional arts and crafts.

Examples of local crafts:

  • Kaga-yūzen (加賀友禅) : fabric-dyeing technique from Kaga (加賀)
  • Kanazawa-haku (金沢箔) : gold leaves applied to various objects, Kanazawa (金沢)
  • Kutani-yaki (九谷焼) : Kutani (九谷) pottery with overglaze painting
  • Wajima-nuri (輪島塗) : Japanese lacquerware from Wajima (輪島)
  • Kaga-zōgan (加賀象嵌) : damascening from Kaga (加賀)

Nishichayagai by the city of Kanazawa, CC BY 2.1 JP

Nishichayagai (にし茶屋街) by the city of Kanazawa, CC BY 2.1 JP

Throughout the city we find traces of former prestigious samurai houses. Feodal insipirations are making their ways even in modern buildings.

Examples of Kanazawa architecture:

  • Nagamachi bukeyashiki ato (長町武家屋敷) : Nagamachi (長町) samurai district
  • Kenroku-en (兼六園) : the "Six Attributes Garden"
  • Sanchayagai (三茶屋街) : the Geiko (芸妓) district of Kanazawa, similar to Gion (祇園) in Kyoto. It is divided in three streets: Higashi (ひがし), Nishi (にし) and Kazue-machi (主計町) on the banks of river Asano (浅野川).
  • The tsuzomi (鼓門) door, in front of Kanazawa train station, shaped like a Japanese drum.

Kaga Bōcha from Kanbayashi Kanazawa Chaho

Kaga Bōcha (加賀棒茶) by Kanbayashi Kanazawa Chaho (上林金沢茶舗)

Preparing Kaga Bōcha

The amount of tea should be adapted to taste: about 8 to 10 grams (2 tbsp) of Kaga Bōcha for 300ml (10oz) of boiling water. Infusion should last 30 seconds.

You can also prepare a Kaga Bōcha latte. Start by infusing about 4 to 5 grams (1 tbsp) of Kaga Bōcha in 150ml (5oz) of boiling water, for 3 minutes. Then add 150ml (5oz) of warm milk. You can then add a sweetener, whipped cream and/or cinnamon!