Color of the Two Teas
Matcha is of bright green color, especially when it is of ceremonial grade. The lower the grade, the less vibrant the color of matcha powder becomes.
Unlike traditional Japanese green teas, hojicha has a brown color. The hue of hojicha slightly varies depending on the harvest time, the roasting time, and whether it is made from Sencha (unshaded green tea), Bancha (common Japanese green tea), or Kukicha (twig tea).
Appearance of the Powders
The tea leaves used for both matcha and hojicha are first steamed to stop the oxidation and fermentation process, and are then dried. Matcha is made by stone-grinding flat dried tea leaves (Tencha) into a fine green powder.
Hojicha is made by slowly roasting tightly rolled tea leaves, stems, stalks, or twigs. Like matcha, hojicha can also be ground into a superfine powder that can be used in food and beverage preparation.
Aroma of the Teas
Fresh matcha has a vegetal aroma, as to be expected from its vibrant green color. As a roasted green tea, hojicha has a soothing, almost therapeutic earthy and smoky aroma. Tea shop owners often brew hojicha to attract customers into their stores.
Difference in Flavor
While lower grade matcha powder tastes bitter, ceremonial grade matcha is slightly sweet with a savory umami flavor and vegetal notes. Hojicha Powder has a naturally sweet taste and smoky flavor with distinct notes of cocoa. Any bitterness typically found in green tea is removed from hojicha when the tea leaves are roasted at a high temperature.
Matcha is prepared in a tea bowl (chawan) with warm water, a strainer, and a bamboo whisk (chasen). Water hotter than 80°C will scorch the matcha and leave it tasting bitter. First, water is poured into the bowl to heat it and then discarded. Then matcha is sifted into the bowl using a strainer to avoid any lumps. Finally, matcha is fully dissolved by whisking it vigorously until a layer of foam appears. Hojicha powder can be prepared in a tea bowl following the same instructions as for preparing matcha powder.
Hojicha Latte Recipe
Whisk 1 teaspoon (1.5 g) of Hojicha Powder with 60 ml (2 oz) of 80°C (175°F) filtered water using a bamboo whisk, handheld frother, or spoon.
ICED HOJICHA LATTE
Add ice and 180 ml (6 oz) of milk of your choice to a tall glass, then slowly pour the whisked hojicha (pick a creamy and sweetened milk for a layered latte).
HOT HOJICHA LATTE
Steam and add 180 ml (6 oz) of milk of your choice to the whisked hojicha.
Sweeten if desired (we recommend a splash of maple syrup).