Tea is a big part of Japanese culture. Different type of tea is suitable with different occasions, some are good for tea ceremony, others complement Japanese cuisine beautifully. Japan is famous for premium tea quality, often made from the delicate hand-plucked young tea leaves. But it is also equally crucial in making use of other parts of the tea plants. Hojicha is a fantastic example that stands out for its unique characteristics. People love it for its distinctive roasted aroma and rich, nutty flavor.
What is Hojicha?
Hojicha is a type of Japanese roasted green tea. It originated from Kyoto, Japan, around the 1920s with the arrival of mechanical harvesting. The lower grade tea leaves and stems are used for making this tea. After harvest and steam, it comes through a high heat roasting process. Younger tea leaves are delicate and not suitable for this type of roasting.
The amount of tea leaves, twigs, stems, or stalks used in making hojicha is different from maker to maker. But it is regarded as a smart move from tea merchants that use the roasting process to transform mature tea leaves and other parts of tea plants into a charming tea. The tea has a reddish-brown color, unlike the yellowish-green color often associated with Japanese tea.
The roasting process gives it the unique smokiness in both its aroma and taste. Hojicha is naturally less astringent, earthy with a mellow sweetness. It smells so good some tea vendors in Japan roast it near their entrances, enticing customers to come in. People enjoy this tea by steeping it like other green tea. But the toastiness and addictive flavor of hojicha are suitable for many drinks and desserts. Today it comes far from its humble origin, reaching countries and people around the world.
Hojicha is famous for its distinctive aroma and rich flavor. But when it comes to health benefits, it is a bit behind other teas. The high-heat roasting process makes green tea leaves lose many nutrients and antioxidants. This process has shown to destroy a lot of catechins – a group of flavonoids that is very effective in fighting diseases. They are essential in promoting heart health, liver health, and diabetes.
This tea has a good amount of L-Theanine. It is an amino acid that supports relaxation on our mind, body, and reduce stress. Unlike other green tea, it stands out for its pleasant toastiness. In a world, when it can be hard to manage pressure, tea like hojicha is valuable not only for its flavor but also for the ability to calm us down in the most delightful way.
Another plus mark for this tea is that it is low in caffeine. If people want to limit their caffeine intake, they can enjoy it as a perfect morning pick-me-up or a calming evening tea. It will not likely affect your sleeping time or cause any discomfort.
There are not many studies on the effect of hojicha on the human body. We can regard it as holding some green tea health properties, but not as much. If you are looking for a boost of antioxidants, it may not be the best choice for you. Instead, look for another type of Japanese green tea like Sencha, or the premium shaded tea Gyokuro.
Hojicha has significantly low caffeine content. In 100 grams, there are only 0.2 grams of caffeine. The same amount of matcha contains 3.2 grams of caffeine. The low caffeine content in this tea is due to the part of the tea plant used and the roasting process.
The lower tea leaves, near the stalk used for making it, has less caffeine compared with upper shoots. And after the roasting process, these tea leaves loose most of its caffeine. That makes it an excellent choice for people who are sensitive to caffeine but still want to enjoy Japanese tea.
Hojicha vs. Matcha
Hojicha and matcha are both Japanese green tea. The most significant difference lies in the fact that hojicha comes through a roasting process while matcha does not. This crucial step reduces the bitterness and much of the caffeine content. It also gives hojicha a reddish-brown color, unlike the bright green color of matcha.
Hojicha is available in both loose leaf and powder form. But matcha is fine green tea powder, made from processed tea leaves. In Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha is prepared using a tea bowl, strainer, and bamboo whisk. The tea powder is whisked until a layer of foam emerge, and the powder fully dissolves in hot water. These tools can be required for making tea using hojicha powder.
As with loose leaf hojicha, the steeping method is more straightforward. It takes only 30 seconds to steep with hot water (190 F – 88 C) in a teapot. You can experience steeping hojicha using a lower temperature and a longer time frame. But you should avoid steeping it for too long, as the bitterness will increase with time.
Products made from Hojicha?
The beautiful aroma and flavor of hojicha make it an incredible addition to various food products. Since it become more and more popular, manufacturers start making hojicha powder for commercial use. People also use it in making multiple drinks and desserts.
Not only in Japan, now you can find products with hojicha in the US, Canada, Australia, and many parts of the world. Below are some of food and drink items with the irresistible hojicha:
- Hojicha latte
- Hojicha frappuccino
- Hojicha chocolate (Kit Kat)
Hojicha brands and where to buy
There are many tea brands produce hojicha which you can buy at Japanese supermarket or on Amazon. Here is the list of top picks which we have tested to review for you.
– 100% tea leaves
– Good Value for money
– Slightly weak in taste
– Real Loose Tea Leave
– Excellent authentic Flavor
– Not convenient as tea bag
– Certified Organic &
– 100% Japanese Tea