Hojicha is a type of roasted Japanese green tea. The sometimes-used term hojicha tea is redundant, as “cha” means tea in Japanese and a number of other languages. Hojicha is usually viewed as an unusual or peculiar type of green tea, as it differs sharply from other green teas, Japanese or Chinese, in its color, flavor, and overall characteristics.
Caffeine Content and Health Benefits of Hojicha:
Two of the most common questions that many people ask when they learn of a new variety of green tea are: How do the health benefits of this tea compare to other green teas? and How much caffeine does this particular variety contain?
Caffeine: Hojicha is among the lowest in caffeine of green teas, which is good news for people seeking natural low-caffeine teas, produced without a chemical decaffeination process. There are two reasons for the low caffeine content of hojicha. First, hojicha tends to be produced from bancha, a Japanese green tea which is naturally low in caffeine because it is made from larger, more mature leaves, which themselves contain less caffeine. Secondly, the roasting process breaks down some of the caffeine. It is important to note, however, that the amount of caffeine in a different hojichas sold by different companies can be quite varied, both due to variation in the base tea, and variability in the level of roast.
Health Benefits: The health benefits of hojicha have not been as extensively studied, in terms of studies that measure the effects of actual tea drinking on humans. However, there is at least one study that has measured the antioxidant content of brewed teas, and this study found that hojicha is much lower in catechins, the main class of antioxidants in green tea. It is likely that the roasting process, in addition to breaking down caffeine, also breaks down a number of the antioxidants. Although antioxidants are not the only reasons for the health benefits of tea, it is important to note that hojicha does not deliver the same amount of antioxidant as most other green teas.
What does hojicha taste like?
Hojicha has a strong roasted aroma, reminiscent of coffee. However, it’s flavor is mellow and smooth. The resulting cup of tea is fascinatingly coffee-like in aroma, but completely unlike coffee in flavor. Hojicha has some of the aromas and flavors characteristic of green tea. As one would expect, the lighter-roasted hojicha tends to resemble the original base tea more than the darker-roasted teas. Some hojicha is double-roasted; the more heavily roasted teas bear little resemblance to the original base teas used.
Other roasted teas:
Besides hojicha, there are a number of other teas that are roasted at some point in their production process. Many oolongs are roasted, and like with hojicha, the level of roast varies considerably. One can find Wuyi oolongs, Anxi oolongs, Dancong, and Taiwanese oolongs that tend towards the more heavily-roasted sign. A few Chinese green teas are also roasted, although the level of roast is very light and the roasting is done as an essential part of the production process, producing teas that do not resemble hojicha much at all.
A few brands of hojicha are occasionally available in stores in western countries, but a more reliable option for most people, especially those seeking out high-quality loose-leaf tea, is to buy hojicha online. The best companies from which to buy hojicha are those that specialize in Japanese green teas, although there are a number of other tea companies that offer hojicha among broader offerings as well.