What is Hojicha?
Hojicha and Green tea
When you think of Japanese tea, most people think of green tea or "ryokucha" (緑茶). While there is no doubt that green tea is one of the most popular types, Japan is a nation of tea drinkers and there are many other types.
Hojicha is one of the common ones.
Differences between hojicha and green tea
Hojicha is actually categorised into the green tea (緑茶) group. Why's that?
I was surprised when I got to know that fact but most types of tea in Japan actually use the same tea leaves!
The only real difference depends on how the tea leaves are grown and produced.
5 most common types of green tea in Japan
- Matcha (抹茶): Grinded with stone mill
- Gyokuro (玉露): Grown by covering the tea garden for about 20 days when the shoots started to open and blocking the sunlight.
- Sencha（煎茶): The most common form of Ryokucha (緑茶)
- Bancha (番茶): The teas that fall outside the basic mainstream of Japanese tea are collectively called "bancha."
- Hojicha (ほうじ茶): Generally, roasted version of Sencha or Bancha.
The definitions of them are quite unclear and arguable in general but these are the most commonly believed definitions.
Features of Hojicha
Hojicha has very distinctive smokey smell. I find the smell very relaxing.
Compared with other green teas in general, hojicha has less caffeine because of the roasting process.
However, hojicha still has a bit of caffeine.
Soft yet strong taste
By roasting at high temperature, the bitterness is reduced and the taste is very refreshing and soft. Its aroma and refreshing light taste are quite distinctive too.
Hojicha in a Latte?
In Japan, tea is most commonly consumed straight. That means no added sugar and definitely no milk! That isn't to say that Japanese teas don't taste good with milk... but it's not so common like in England or India. In fact, many Japanese people are lactose intolerant, this might be a reason why milky tea isn't as common as straight tea!
Despite this, milk tea is still popular. Especially "Gogo no koucha" (午後の紅茶) which is a bottled milky black tea which you can buy in any convenience store. (It's delicious!) Here are some other milky drinks that you can buy in Japan.
- Matcha latte
- Hojicha latte
- Sakura latte (cherry blossom)
- Black sesame latte
- Jasmine tea latte
As you can see, they usually have latte in the name! Rather than a dash of milk, milk is the base of the drink!
As I mentioned earlier, many Japanese people are lactose intolerant. Despite that, school lunches are always served with cow's milk (牛乳) and bottled drinks are nearly always made with cows milk too.
Soy milk (豆乳) is also very popular but other alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk and oat milk can be difficult, if not impossible to find!
I have to say that the smokiness of hojicha goes very nicely with non-dairy milks. They have an earthy flavour that really compliments hojicha in my opinion!
Let's get started!Print