Hojicha and matcha are both Japanese green teas, and yet there are many differences between the two. Here’s a comparison of their most notable characteristics.
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 reddish-brown color. The hue of hojicha slightly varies depending on the harvest date, roasting level, and whether it is made from Sencha (unshaded green tea), Bancha (common green tea), or Kukicha (twig tea).
The green tea leaves used for both teas are first steamed, and 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 dried tea leaves, stems, stalks, or twigs resulting in a loose leaf tea. Like matcha, hojicha can also be ground into a fine tea powder.
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.
While lower grade matcha tastes bitter, ceremonial grade matcha has a savory umami flavor. Our Hojicha Gold Roast also has a satisfying umami flavor, which is complemented by smoky undertones. Hojicha Dark Roast tastes bolder, and has a rich, smoky, and naturally sweet flavor. The versatile Hojicha Powder has a sweet and smoky flavor. All bitterness is removed from hojicha when the green tea leaves are roasted.
Matcha has approximately 3.2 g of caffeine per 100 g, making it perfect for early mornings. Hojicha has only 0.13 g of caffeine per 100 g, and can be enjoyed later in the day. The low caffeine content is achieved by using parts of the tea plant that are naturally low caffeine and as a result of the high heat used during the roasting process.
Matcha is prepared in a chawan (tea bowl) with warm water, a strainer, and a bamboo whisk. 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 the 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.
Loose leaf hojicha is made by steeping tea leaves for as little as 30 seconds in 90°C water. The bold flavor of hojicha deepens in hot water, but may turn bitter if left to steep for too long. The roasted green tea leaves can be placed directly into a teapot or in a tea infuser. Hojicha can be infused up to three times to extract all the flavor from the tea leaves. Hojicha tastes best as it cools and fills the rooms with its calming aroma.
Hojicha powder can be prepared in a tea bowl following the same instructions as for preparing matcha powder.