March 08, 2021
Last year, we announced a new member to our tea family... Hojicha! This new product joined us in July of 2020 but still is a relatively unknown member of the crew. Although matcha will always hold a special place in our hearts we would love to talk about hojicha and why we think you’ll love it too!
Both our hojicha and matcha are made from finely ground, green tea leaves. Our matcha is made from tencha, a type of green tea, and our hojicha is made from sencha. To make matcha, tencha leaves are steamed, dried and then ground into a very fine powder. With hojicha, the sencha leaves are dried, roasted, and then ground. The roasting is what gives hojicha its light brown color, earthy aroma and sweet mild flavor. We import our hojicha from the same tea farm in Shizuoka that grows our premium matcha.
If you read our article about matcha and weight loss, you’ll remember that matcha has about half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. The roasting process used to make hojicha lowers the caffeine levels while simultaneously producing a chemical called pyrazine (more on that below). Because there is less caffeine than matcha and coffee, hojicha is a great afternoon or evening drink.
Hojicha is often served after dinner or in the evening in Japan because it aids in digestion. Like matcha, hojicha has metabolism stimulating antioxidants called catechins, which promote cells to burn their fat storages. However, hojicha contains significantly less catechins than matcha so it is not as stimulating as matcha.
Like matcha, hojicha also contains L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid that helps lower stress and anxiety. Unlike matcha, which has a fair amount of caffeine, hojicha contains much less. While matcha can give you a boost to help you through the day, it might be too stimulating in the evening. Hojicha has the same calming effect as matcha but much less caffeine; perfect for unwinding after a long day.
One special benefit that only hojicha has comes from the chemical pyrazine. This chemical is formed during the roasting process so it is absent in matcha. Pyrazine is what gives hojicha its “roasted” scent, which we as humans tend to associate with pleasant things. For example, pyrazine is also present in aroma of brewing coffee, grilling meat, baking, and cocoa just to name a few. Besides giving hojicha it's wonderful scent, it also can expand blood vessels, sending more blood pumping through the body. This increased blood circulation gently warms the body. Matcha warms the body because fat stores are being burned due to the effects of caffeine and catechins. Sometimes, those sensitive to temperature changes can be left feeling a little cold after the effects wear off. Since hojicha heats the body through a different process, drinkers can expect to feel warm and cozy even after the effects wear off. We think that those with poor blood circulation would particularly enjoy hojicha. It also would be perfect to take skiing or snowshoeing!
While hojicha is often sold in loose-tea form, 3 Leaf Tea sells hojicha in a powder form. Loose teas need to be brewed and afterwards, the leaves are discarded. Powdered hojicha is ready to drink almost instantly and there is no waste.
Preparing hojicha is very similar to preparing matcha. The standard latte method is to simply add 1 tsp of powder and 8 oz. of hot water or milk then stir or whisk vigorously. Since hojicha is roasted, it won’t easily be damaged by high heat like matcha is but using boiling water should be avoided. Besides hot lattes, hojicha is also delicious served cold over ice. It is also excellent sprinkled over vanilla ice cream and on honey toast. Both matcha and hojicha start from green tea leaves, so any recipes you use with matcha could very well work with hojicha. If you ever try hojicha in place of your usual matcha be sure to let us know!
Because both matcha and hojicha have the same roots (literally) there are more than a few similarities between the two yet both have their own great qualities; it really is like they are siblings. Hojicha’s unique aroma and warming properties are distinctly different from those of matcha. Matcha’s superior caffeine content makes it better suited for daytime while hojicha is perhaps best enjoyed at night. We are honored to be able to share another product to help you feel your best and most vibrant. With this new information, hopefully you’ve “warmed up” to hojicha. Please give it a try and tell us about your experience! We’re waiting to hear from you.