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Japanese Food Article

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Tea holds a significant place in the cultural heritage of Japan, dating back to the 9th century with a rich and lengthy history. To this day, tea remains an integral component of daily life in Japan, with a diverse range of traditional green teas and contemporary blends to choose from. Among the must-try teas for any tea enthusiast is hojicha – a roasted green tea that has gained increasing popularity in recent years. Whether you are a tea drinker or a novice exploring the world of tea, sample hojicha on your next visit to Japan or purchase it online to relish its unique and delightful flavor.

What is Hojicha?

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

“Hojicha” is a type of Japanese green tea made by roasting tea leaves over high heat until the leaves turn reddish brown. This gives the tea a nutty, caramel-like flavor and a mild, smooth taste. The way of making tea originated in Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Hojicha has less caffeine than other green teas, making it a popular choice for drinking in the evening or before bed. This tea is popular among men and women of all ages for its mild taste. 

Hojicha History

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Hojicha originated in Kyoto, Japan, in the 1920s. At that time, teahouses were suffering from the recession caused by the Showa Depression, and it seems that they had a large amount of inventory because their tea did not sell well.  They created the tea as a way to use up leftover tea leaves that were deemed too low-quality to be sold as regular green tea. These leaves were roasted over high heat, which gave them a distinct brown color and a unique nutty, toasty flavor. According to one story, the tea merchant brought old tea to Kyoto University, consulted with a professor, and got the idea to dry and roast the tea leaves. After that, as the consumption of tea increased nationwide, the culture of hoji-cha spread throughout the country.

Types of Hojicha

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Roasting sencha produces hojicha, which can vary depending on the season and part of the tea leaves used. When harvested,  Japanese tea is given various names, such as nibancha (tea leaves picked the year after the first harvest), sanbancha (tea leaves picked after nibancha), and autumn and winter bancha (tea leaves picked in the fall). The type of hoji-cha that results depends on the time of tea leaf harvesting. Additionally, karigane, a roasted green tea made from the stems of tea leaves, is a popular variety for its distinct flavor.

Various beverage and food that uses hojicha

Hojicha Latte 

Made by adding milk and sugar to Hoji-cha. The faint fragrance makes you feel calm.

Hojicha Ice Cream

“Hoji-cha ice cream” and “Hoji-cha soft-serve ice cream” are rich but somewhat refreshing. It has a strong aroma and little bitterness, so even children can eat it deliciously.

Rice Flour Hojicha Chiffon Cake

It is a fluffy rice flour chiffon cake with the scent of hojicha. They made use of chiffon cakes made with rice flour and hojicha that will give off a fluffy, moist, and delicious cake.

Basque cheesecake

Roasted green tea basque cheesecake is a type of dessert that combines the flavors of roasted green tea and cheesecake. The dessert typically consists of a creamy, baked cheesecake infused with roasted green tea flavor, resulting in a unique and slightly bitter taste.

Health Facts about Hojicha

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Due to its low caffeine levels, antioxidant content, and potential anti-inflammatory properties, Hojicha offers several health benefits. It reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, lower cholesterol levels, and improves cardiovascular health. This tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect on the mind and body. Since hoji-cha is made by roasting green tea leaves, it contains less caffeine than other green teas, making it an excellent option for people who want to limit their caffeine intake. However, it is important to consume hoji-cha in moderation as excessive intake may have adverse effects on health.

Hojicha FAQ

What is the recommended way to drink Hojicha?

Hojicha is a versatile tea that one can enjoy hot or iced. To make hot hoji-cha, steep one teaspoon of tea in hot water for 1-2 minutes. For iced hoji-cha, increase the tea used and pour over ice. You can use hoji-cha to make a latte with your preferred milk and added to recipes for a smoky flavor. 

Are there special occasions in Japan associated with drinking Hojicha?

While there are no specific special occasions or traditions associated with drinking hojicha in Japan, locals often enjoyed it during meals or as a way to relax after a long day. Hojicha is also commonly served at traditional Japanese tea ceremonies alongside other types of tea. Some Japanese households have a custom of drinking hojicha before going to bed.

Hojicha Recipe

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Hojicha Ingredients

Ingredients of Hojicha for 1 personMeasurements
Green tea [tea leaves]30g
Boiling water300g

How to make Hojicha

STEP
Roast the tea leaves

Put the tea leaves in the frying pan and spread them evenly. Heat over medium-low heat, and mix with a wooden spatula when the aroma comes out. Roast for about 20 minutes until the whole is browned, transfer to a tray and cool.

STEP
Sifting the tea

Put 5-6g of roasted tea leaves in a teapot and pour boiling water. Cover and pour into a bowl after 30 seconds then serve.

Where to buy Hojicha

Morinoen (森乃園)

Morinoen is a hojicha specialty store founded in 1914. They sell specialty hoji-cha that the shop roasted in-house. At the attached sweets shop, you can enjoy Hoji-cha sweets such as anmitsu and shaved ice. The hojicha parfait is the most popular.

Address: 2-4-9 Ningyocho, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone number: 03-3667-2666
Hours open: 1F Store 9:00-19:00 2F Sweets Shop 12:00-17:00
Website: http://www.morinoen.com/

Scorch shop Buichi (焦がし屋 武一)

This is a hojicha specialty shop opened by the tea shop “Cha no Nishiden”, which is right across the street and is famous for its shaved ice. In addition to the hojicha ice cream, they also recommend their take-out drinks. Hojicha milk tea comes in such a cute container. It has a reputation for being mildly sweet and allowing you to enjoy the aroma of hojicha.

Address: 1536 Menuma, Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture
Phone number: 048-580-3525
Website: https://www.instagram.com/kogasiya_buichi/

Omicha Marukichi Teahouse Horaku (近江茶丸吉・茶房焙楽)

The cafe just opened in the spring of 2019. You can enjoy various Hojicha sweets. There is a lineup of sweets unique to Sabo Koraku, such as the roasted tea cheesecake in the photo and roasted tea kiln-baked pancakes. The shop also recommends trying their roasted tea molasses ice in the hot summer. After cooling down your body with shaved ice, it might be a good idea to drink warm hojicha to cleanse your palate. 

Address: 2723 Ohno, Tsuchiyama Town, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture
Phone number: 0748-67-1333
Hours open: 9:30-18:00 (LO 17:00) Closed on Tuesdays
Website: http://www.houjicha-maruyoshi.com/

For Online Shopping

For those who want to order or buy Hojicha in Japan, you can mail it to your home via online on Rakuten. Just click here to see some shops that sell Hojicha.

And for those who want to order or buy Hojicha but live away from Japan. You can ship them from Rakuten. Rakuten offers International Shipping Service so do not worry about how to receive your items. Rakuten Global Express is an online shopping service that allows users to shop at stores in Japan.

STEP
Sign up

First, you need a Rakuten ID. If you are already a Rakuten member, you can start using Rakuten Global Express. If you have not registered yet, click here.

STEP
Get your personal RGX address

After signing up, you will get a Japanese address: a Rakuten Global Express address.

STEP
Shop at stores in Japan

Now that you get yourself a personal RGX address (Rakuten Global Express address). You can shop online in Japan, click here to shop for Hojicha (not only Rakuten but other online stores are also included).

When you have decided on your items, set the delivery address to your Rakuten Global Express address.

STEP
Confirm items

After items are shipped to the RGX address, they will be packed into one package. You also receive an email upon confirming these items and payment.

Once the payment is confirmed, your package will be delivered within a designated time period depending on your shipping choice.

Final Thoughts

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

Hojicha is a delicious and unique tea that offers a range of health benefits and enjoyed in many different ways. Its nutty and toasty flavor, low caffeine content, and potential health benefits make it a popular choice among tea lovers around the world. If you have the opportunity to visit Japan, trying out this tea should be on your list of things to do. Whether you enjoy it hot or cold, as a latte or in culinary dishes, Hojicha is a must-try experience that will leave you feeling satisfied and refreshed.

You can check some Japanese tea drinks below that we know you would like to try too.

Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

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