Chado – the traditional Japanese tea ceremony
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When we think about Japanese tea, it is common to associate it with the the beautiful green color of Matcha (powdered green tea), the central focus of Chadō – the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. However, it is not the only flavor of tea that you will find here. Sencha, Bancha, Genmaicha (variations of green tea), Oolongcha (a type of Chinese tea very common in Japan) or even teas that are not made from tea plants like Mugicha (barley tea) and Kombucha (kelp tea) are just some of the delicious options that are available in restaurants, vending machines, convenience stores, and supermarkets.
A traditional meal always comes with tea in Japan
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The different variations of green tea mentioned above result from differences in the conditions that they are grown in, harvested and prepared. Today, we are going to talk about one of these variations: Houjicha. Originating in 1920 in Kyoto, Houjicha is made of leaves harvested later in the season. Instead of just being steamed like the other green teas, these leaves are also roasted in a porcelain or cast iron pot over charcoal at a high temperatures, which gives the tea a very particular reddish-brown color and a toasty caramel flavor, sweeter than other green tea varieties.
Green tea plantation
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Some of the benefits associated with Houjicha are the same as other varieties green teas. They are:
- anti-ageing properties due to its high level of antioxidants that help to eliminate free radicals in the body;
- stress reliever due to high levels of the amino acid L-Theanine;
- lower cholesterol levels due to high levels of the antioxidant catechin.
In addition to these proprieties, the roasting process also decaffeinates the tea, making Houjicha a great beverage option for children, elders and people who are sick because of the low caffeine level.
Uji Houjicha Kitkat
Photo by Amazon Japan
Like Matcha, Houjicha is so popular in Japan that you might be surprised to find more than just the tea itself. There are also a lot of Houjicha-flavor products such as roll cakes, snacks, cocktails and smoothies. Special limited editions of famous brands like Starbucks Houjicha Frappucinos, Haggen-Dazs Houjicha Latte flavor ice cream, and Houjicha Kitkats arouses curiosity among Japanese people and visitors alike, and they are a great dessert option for Houjicha lovers.
Tea-drinking has been a part of Japanese culture for thousands of years, and Houjicha is one variation of green tea that can be enjoyed throughout the day, hot or cold. Thanks to its health benefits and delicious taste, this type of tea is the perfect beverage to go with your daily meals, and can also be enjoyed with sweets and snacks. When you are all ready to come to Japan, make sure to try the authentic earthy aroma and unique smokey taste of Houjicha! Maybe you will discover your new favorite cup of tea!