Differences Between Matcha and Hojicha Tea
While matcha green tea powder has impacted the world stage in recent years, hojicha tea hasn’t quite had the same wide reach. The bright, vibrant green of matcha powder makes it a striking image, perfect for sharing on social media to widen its influence, but hojicha tea just hasn’t had that same kind of widespread influence. However, that doesn’t mean that hojicha tea isn’t delicious and isn’t an excellent addition to your tea cabinet or your menu.
If you’re considering trying this delicious tea, you may wonder how it differs from matcha tea. Here’s a little more information, so you know exactly what to expect when trying hojicha (or even matcha!) tea for the first time:
What Exactly Is Matcha Tea?
Matcha tea is, at its core, a type of green tea powder that tends to have a light, slightly sweet, grassy flavor when prepared. Matcha tea is grown in a controlled, shaded environment to enhance the flavors of the tea leaves. Growing the matcha plants in a shaded environment helps to keep the flavors light and sweet. Also, it enhances the production of chlorophyll, ensuring that the matcha powder will have that vibrant green color. Leaf harvest depends on the grade of matcha.
Ceremonial-grade matcha is harvested during the first harvest of the leaves, preserving the light, gentle, and sweet taste. Ceremonial matcha is the perfect choice if you’re a fan of drinking matcha traditionally instead of using it in baked goods or lattes.
Culinary matcha - a less refined grade but no less delicious - is harvested during the second and third harvests, depending on what type of culinary matcha it will become. For example, premium culinary matcha is typically harvested during the top of the second harvest, making it nearly identical to ceremonial matcha. Ingredient matcha, however, is best used as an ingredient in a baked good.
Matcha green tea powder has been used for centuries in different ceremonies; in fact, the Japanese tea ceremony centers around the use and enjoyment of green tea. Because matcha was only accessible to royalty and nobility, its prestige grew. Today, however, matcha can be found in cafes and coffee shops worldwide.
So Hojicha Tea Is Different?
Hojicha tea is a type of green tea that hasn’t quite risen to popularity across the world, like matcha green tea powder. In fact, hojicha tea isn’t even green! Instead, hojicha has a brown color that varies significantly on harvesting, roasting, and production times. Hojicha tea is similar to matcha in that it is made from the same plant and is high in antioxidants, but that is where the similarities end.
Hojicha is a roasted green tea that first appeared in Kyoto, Japan, in the 1920s. It was created almost by accident; it resulted from a tea merchant trying to find a use for the leftover green tea debris he had remaining once he’d sold all of his tea. He decided to roll up all of the green tea debris and roast it over a fire.
When he pulled the tea away from the charcoal, he admired his results: he’d made hojicha tea! Hojicha tea is a roasted green tea that has a smoky sweet taste and is widely praised for being calming. It has a smoky aroma, a sweet taste, no bitterness, and low caffeine content. This tea became so popular that it is now widely available throughout Japan and is a staple in most Japanese tea shops.
What Are the Main Differences?
While hojicha tea is a type of green tea, it has very few similarities with matcha green tea powder
Appearance and Color of the Tea
The most striking difference between matcha and hojicha tea is the appearance and color of the tea. Matcha green tea powder is a bright, vibrant green color, immediately recognizable in any coffee shop or tea cup. Its bright green color is part of why it became such a trendy drink in the United States so quickly!
Hojicha tea, though, is brown. Because it is a roasted tea, the leaves don’t retain their vibrant green color. If you were to see hojicha from a glance, you likely wouldn’t be able to tell that you were drinking green tea at all!
Another striking difference in appearance between hojicha tea and matcha tea is the texture of the tea. Matcha tea is a finely ground powder that has the appearance and texture of cornstarch. While culinary matcha may not be as finely ground, it still has a soft and delicate powdery feeling. Hojicha tea, while it can be made into a fine powder like matcha, is also served in tea bags or as loose-leaf tea like other types of green tea.
While matcha tea and hojicha tea are prepared similarly at the outset, the production method is much different. Both teas are steamed and dried to stop the oxidation process before they’re dried, but that is where the similarities end. After the tea leaves are dried, a producer looking to make matcha will remove the stems and veins from the leaves and stone-grind them to a fine powder.
If the producer wants to create hojicha tea, then that process is different. The stems, leaves, stalks, and twigs of the tea are tightly rolled and slow-roasted over a fire in a rotating pan. If you’d like to keep it truly authentic, then the tea leaves should be roasted in a porcelain pot over a charcoal fire! Once the leaves are roasted, they can be ground up into a fine powder like matcha powder or gathered into tea bags and enjoyed like a typical loose-leaf tea. Once the tea is roasted, the twigs and stems do not need to be removed - another stark difference from traditional matcha powder.
Matcha powder has a surprisingly high caffeine content. A large cup of matcha has about 75 milligrams of caffeine, which is about the same amount as a regular cup of coffee. Once matcha powder started becoming more and more popular in the United States, it grew in popularity as a coffee substitute for those who weren’t big fans of the taste or jitters of coffee. It has retained popularity and is in many different coffee shops all around the United States and the world.
Hojicha, however, has a significantly lower amount of caffeine than matcha tea. The same cup of matcha tea with 75 milligrams of caffeine would only be about 8 milligrams of caffeine if it were hojicha instead. This is because the tea leaves used to produce hojicha are naturally lower in caffeine, and hojicha’s roasting process also removes a lot of the caffeine in the tea.
Because of this reason, hojicha tea is very popular to enjoy at night after dinner or as a warm evening drink. Its delicious roasted flavor and aroma can give anyone a warm and cozy feeling.
The Difference in Flavor and Aroma
Hojicha tea has a very distinctive flavor that’s much different from its matcha counterpart. While hojicha tea is a type of green tea, the taste of hojicha comes more from roasting the leaves than the tea leaves themselves. As a result, the flavor is deep, roasted, and smoky, with a sweet finish, unlike that of matcha.
Something surprising is that hojicha’s aroma is known for being comforting and alluring. Japanese cafes will often brew hojicha in the open doors or windows to entice customers to enter the store because the aroma of the tea can have such a cozy, nostalgic feeling.
Matcha, on the other hand, has a much lighter and brighter flavor. The taste and aroma of matcha powder come from the leaves themselves instead of the production process, and the taste tends to be smooth and vegetal with a sweet grass finish. The taste isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a delicious new tea to try, matcha makes for a delicious latte.
Of course, flavored matcha is on the rise, and enjoying a flavored matcha latte will be much different from traditionally drinking matcha. It won’t have the same strong, grassy flavor that matcha is known for, but flavored matcha is a great way to get into the matcha drinking scene with something a little more familiar.
While hojicha hasn’t quite made its way to our storefront, at Matcha Outlet, we’ve got plenty of different types of matcha to try if you’re still trying to figure out what exactly you like. From soft and sweet ceremonial matcha to matcha latte mix, we’ve got all you need to try adding a little extra matcha flavor to your cafe regimen.
Pyrazine might not be something that you’ve heard of before, but it’s for sure something that you’ve experienced if you’ve ever been in a coffee shop when they’re brewing coffee or pulling freshly baked pastries out of the oven. Pyrazine is a chemical enzyme that causes your body to feel the sensation of warmth and pleasantness. Brought out in the roasting process of the hojicha tea, Pyrazine is the same enzyme produced when you bake a pie, roast coffee, pull a pizza out of the oven, or barbecue meat.
When you drink hojicha tea, the pyrazine content in the tea immediately makes your body feel warm and pleasant - the feeling that warms you from your fingertips down to your toes. Because of this, it’s the perfect drink to enjoy on a cold winter’s day or when you’re trying to wind down at the end of the night.
How Do You Prepare the Teas?
Figuring out how to prepare matcha or hojicha tea isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Hojicha tea and matcha tea can be prepared the same way, depending on how the hojicha tea is processed!
If your matcha tea and hojicha tea are in a soft powder form, then it’s easy to prepare your tea. There’s still the question of how to prepare matcha or hojicha in that you can decide if you want to make a latte or enjoy your tea traditionally, but both preparations are easy.
To prepare your tea powder, use a sifter and sift a couple of teaspoons into a tea bowl. Once you’ve sifted your powder into the tea bowl, add a couple of ounces of hot - not boiling - water to the powder and whisk vigorously with a bamboo whisk. Once your powder is well-combined, you’re good to drink it as-is or add some sweetener or milk to make it more to your liking.
While you can prepare hojicha like matcha if it’s powdered, hojicha tea can also come in the loose-leaf tea variety. If you’re planning to enjoy your hojicha in a loose-leaf form rather than powder, be sure not to steep your tea for too long. Less than a minute should be enough. Otherwise, your tea will become bitter and unpalatable. Hojicha is most enjoyable cooled down, on ice, or even in a latte.
What You Can Enjoy From Matcha Outlet
Matcha is a great place to start in your tea-drinking journey if you haven’t entirely decided whether or not to make the switch from coffee to tea or if you’re unsure if you’ll like the taste.
While matcha has a sweet, grassy flavor, it’s easily added to other drinks, lattes, or baked goods. It makes for a delicious treat that has no comparison to anything else on the market.
Not sure what you might like? Matcha Outlet can help with that. Our sample pack comes with seven different samples of green tea powder, flavored matcha, and even a sample of one of our other delicious drinks.
If you’re interested in making matcha - and maybe even hojicha - a part of your daily routine, check out what else we have to offer at Matcha Outlet!