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We went to Uji after visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine. We had been to Uji in the spring of 2019 to see “Byodoin”, an old temple built in the Heian period and stop by Tsuen; more on this later.
Uji is famous for green tea, and the matcha from Uji is one of the most famous varieties, which inspired me to revisit my creme brulee recipe and add hojicha to it, as you will see below.
Where is Uji?
Uji city is located in the Kyoto prefecture. From Kyoto station, take the JR Nara line (the same train you would take to go to Inari station) and get off at Uji station. It takes about half an hour in total.
Tsuen, the oldest tea shop in Japan
The shop was founded in 1160, and you notice it right away as you walk in as some elements have been preserved. Not just that but, the shop owner is the 24th generation of the family. He runs the tasting sessions and tells you how to prepare the tea for each type you’ve selected.
We initially saw this tea shop on Japanese TV and immediately put it on the list of places to visit Kyoto. This time, we bought two different Japanese green tea and some sweets to go with them.
A small tip for you, when we went there in 2019, some foreigners were doing a tasting session before us, and the shop owner was explaining the tea differences in English. Oh, and they accept card payments!
What we bought
We bought some hojicha and a sencha green tea from Tsuen this time. They are called “Azumaya” and “Ukifune” from the selection of their hojicha and "Aoi" from Sencha.
Luckily the shop wasn’t that busy when we visited, so we asked for tasting. The shop owner explained to us how to prepare hojicha. Do not worry if you don’t remember how he was preparing the tea properly as they also wrote the instruction on the package.
Hojicha (roasted green tea) creme brulee recipe
I made a creme brulee with the hojicha (roasted green tea) from Tsuen using my creme brulee recipe as a base. The only difference is that this time I infused hojicha when I warm cream and milk. The rest of the recipe is identical.
The taste and aroma of the hojicha go very well with the creamy creme brulee. I used this tea, but you can also use any hojicha or tea that you prefer.
- 2 tablespoon of Hojicha loose tea leaves
- 300g whipping cream (150g double cream and 150g single cream works too!)
- 170g whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 80g caster sugar
- Oven safe ramekins (ceramic or glass)
- Oven tray (roasting tray)
- Mixing bowl
- Blow torch (the one with butane or refillable)
- Pre-heat the oven at 130°C.
- Separate eggs, put egg yolks in a large bowl and keep the white for something else.
- Add whipping cream and milk into a saucepan and start heating it.
- When it’s started boiling, add hojicha loose tea leaves, put the lid on and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- While you are waiting for the cream mixture to infuse, add sugar into the large bowl with the egg yolks and mix well with a whisk to combine them.
- Put a cloth under the bowl so that it doesn’t slip in the next step.
- Pour the warm cream mixture into the large bowl over the egg yolk and sugar mixture and whisk simultaneously.
- Strain the mixture and remove the foam on the surface with a spoon.
- Put a ramekin on a scale and pour the mixture into it. One portion is about 100g to 110g. If you see any bubbles on the surface, use a blow torch to break them.
- Place the ramekin on the deep baking tray and then put that baking tray in the oven.
- Pour hot water until half-height of the ramekin and cook for 20 minutes to half an hour.
- Shake the ramekin gently, and when the middle of the mixture still wiggles, that’s the timing to take it out from the oven.
- Carefully take out the tray from the oven and leave it to cool. You have to keep the ramekins in the water until it gets cooled as the custard is still slowly cooking.
- Once the custard is cooled, put them in the fridge, and leave them preferably overnight.
- Take out the set custard from the fridge and leave them at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes to avoid breaking your ramekins because of the extreme temperature differences.
- Put a generous amount of sugar on the custard, spread it by tilting the ramekins, put the excess sugar onto another custard or put it back into your sugar pot.
- Turn on the blow torch and start to caramelise the sugar. Make sure you pay extra care when you use a blow torch!
- The tasty cremes brulees are ready to serve!
Uji is also a beautiful city to visit in the Kyoto prefecture and a must-go place, especially for tea lovers. There are many different tea shops around the area, so it’s fun to see the differences in each of them. We will come back to Uji the next time we are in Kyoto to buy some different varieties of Japanese tea and enjoy the ambience.
We hope you enjoyed the variation in the creme brulee recipe; we found it particularly enjoyable in this hot summer.