What is the difference between hojicha and matcha?

Matcha and hojicha are both Japanese green teas, and yet there are many differences between the two teas. Here’s a comparison of their most notable characteristics.

Color

Matcha is bright green, especially when it is of ceremonial grade. The lower the grade, the less vibrant the color of matcha becomes.

Unlike traditional Japanese green teas, hojicha has a reddish-brown color. The hue of hojicha slightly varies depending on the harvest date and whether it is made from Sencha, Bancha, or Kukicha.

Appearance

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 powder.

Hojicha is made by slowly roasting tightly rolled dried tea leaves, stems, stalks, or twigs resulting in a loose leaf tea.

Aroma

Fresh matcha has a vegetal aroma, as to be expected from its vibrant green color.

As a roasted green tea, hojicha has a soothing earthy and smoky aroma.

Flavor

While lower grade matcha tastes bitter, ceremonial grade matcha has a savory umami flavor.

Hojicha Gold Roast also has a satisfying umami flavor which is complemented by its smoky undertones. Hojicha Dark Roast is much bolder, and has a rich, smoky, and naturally sweet flavor. All bitterness is removed from hojicha when the green tea leaves are roasted.

Caffeine

Matcha has approximately 3.2g of caffeine per 100g, making it perfect for early mornings.

Hojicha has only 0.13g of caffeine per 100g, and can be enjoyed later in the day. The low caffeine content is achieved naturally as a result of the high heat used during the roasting process.

Preparation

Matcha is prepared in a 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 the strainer to avoid any lumps. Finally, the matcha must be fully dissolved by whisking it vigorously until a layer of foam appears.

Hojicha is made by steeping the tea leaves for as little as 15-30 seconds in 90°C water. The sweet and bold flavor deepens in hot water, but may turn bitter if left to steep for too long. The roasted green tea leaves can be placed in an infuser, or directly into a teapot. Hojicha can be infused up to three times. Hojicha tastes best as it cools and fills the rooms with its calming aroma.

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