Hojicha: Low-Caffeine Roasted Green Tea

Jill Caren

This roasted green tea was initially created in Kyoto, Japan in the 1920s by a tea merchant who tried to use the leftover leaves, stems, …

Categories Green Tea

This roasted green tea was initially created in Kyoto, Japan in the 1920s by a tea merchant who tried to use the leftover leaves, stems, and twigs by roasting them over charcoal. Hojicha was the product’s name.

The term “Hojicha” is derived from the Japanese verb “to roast.” In Japanese, this simply means roasted tea.

Today, hojicha is quite popular in Japan, but it is also gaining popularity in Western countries. In addition, consumers may now pick between traditional Hojicha tea prepared from roasted green leaves and Hojicha powder, which is used in a variety of beverages and desserts.

My attention here will be on showing you more details about the Hojicha tea. To begin, here are the main features of this roasted green tea:

  • It contains less caffeine compared to other green teas.
  • You can make your hojicha at home.
  • Even though it’s green tea, it’s light brown in color.
  • It’s traditionally offered as loose leaf tea and more recently as a fine powder.
  • Expect a nutty, earthy flavor with caramel undertones.

What is Hojicha?

Hojicha is a roasted Japanese green tea. It’s only made from steamed Japanese green teas, by roasting Bancha, Sencha, or Kukicha green tea leaves in a pot over charcoal at high temperatures.

Roasting the steamed tea leaves changes their color to a reddish brown, removes bitterness, and produces a bold and rich smoky flavor with a hint of natural sweetness. It smells so good that some Japanese tea sellers roast it by their entryway to attract customers.

While many tea names refer to specific teas, the term “Hojicha” refers to any roasted Japanese green tea. This implies that many varieties and grades of this roasted green tea exist, depending on the tea or part of the tea leaf tea masters decided to toast.

Hojicha can be made using whole tea leaves, stems, veins, and parts of tea leaves. No matter what type of tea leaves are used (Bancha, Sencha, or Kukicha) the final roasted form is known as Hojicha.

How is Hojicha made?

The process of making Hojicha starts with the tea material for regular Japanese green tea production. After the tea leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation, then dried and rolled, there is one more stage in the manufacturing process: roasting.

Roasting is done with high heat (traditionally using a special pan called “houroku”). In factories, tea leaves and stems are placed in drums that spin and roast at around 392°F (200 °C) before being cooled.

The roasting process adds to the original tea a unique roasted flavor and fragrance. The finished product has light to dark brown leaves and a dark infusion, although it is still classified as green tea.

Nowadays, hojicha is generally produced using bancha (a lower quality green tea than sencha, harvested between summer and autumn) and kukicha (made from twigs and stems of the tea plant). Sencha green tea (first-harvest leaves) is also used to produce Hojicha.


If you have sencha green tea on hand, you may roast it in a cast iron skillet to make your own roasted green tea.

Additionally, some manufacturers grind Hojicha in the same method as Matcha to get the fine powder form.

Hojicha powder
Hojicha powder

People use Hojicha powder to make a variety of beverages and desserts, such as:

  • Hojicha latte
  • Hojicha frappuccino
  • Hojicha chocolate chip cookies
  • Hojicha hot chocolate

How to Make Roasted Green Tea (Homemade Hojicha)

Roasting is a simple and effective method of saving tea leaves that are no longer fresh. If you have old bancha or sencha green tea, you may still consume it by roasting it and making a delicious tea.

To make your own hojicha at home, you’ll need a frying pan, a heat source, and green tea (bancha or sencha).

  • To begin, clean and dry your pan to avoid transferring fat or odors to your roasted green tea.
  • Preheat the empty frying pan over medium or low heat for a couple of minutes. When the pan is hot enough, add the tea leaves. Allow them to roast by shaking the pan constantly.
  • You’ll quickly notice the distinct roasted aroma of this green tea. Turn off the heat when the leaves begin to change color and you smell smoke and a roasted aroma.
  • Continue roasting without heat until the leaves become brownish; be careful not to burn them. The leaves should not get black or burnt.
  • If this is your first time making it, start with a lighter roast to prevent burning the tea, and then adjust the duration and heat for the second time.

Roast just small portions of tea that you intend to consume in a short period of time. You will be able to taste the nicest and freshest roasted scent of hojicha this way.

The Unique Tea’s Taste

The Hojicha’s tea taste depends on the type of tea from which it’s made and the roasting temperature. The roasting process also eliminates the bitterness that is common in most green teas when not properly brewed.

Generally, from good Hojicha tea, you can expect a light caramel-like flavor with a slight sweetness and nutty undertones. The darker or more intensively roasted tea leaves will have a more smoky taste. If it’s made from Bancha, it’s usually lighter, and if it’s made from Sencha, it can often be naturally more astringent.

If you try this green tea and you like the taste, maybe you can also try the Genmaicha tea, which is a mix of roasted brown rice and green tea.

Caffeine in Hojicha Tea

Hojicha tea’s caffeine content is very low compared to other types of green tea. A 237 mL (8 fl oz) cup of hojicha tea contains approximately 7.7 mg of caffeine.

As a comparison, a standard cup of 237 ml (8 fl oz) of coffee has around 96 mg of caffeine, and a same-sized cup of sencha green tea contains about 20–30 mg of caffeine. The very-low caffeine levels of this tea are attributed to the roasting process and the type of tea leaves used.

  • Roasting (high heat) affects the chemical profile of tea, potentially lowering the caffeine content.
  • Hojicha is often made with more mature leaves harvested later in the season. These leaves have less caffeine than first or second harvest younger tea leaves.

Hojicha made from mature Bancha tea leaves has less caffeine than the one made from roasted Sencha tea leaves. Hojicha, made from roasted Kukicha, has the lowest caffeine levels.

The Benefits of Roasted Green Tea

Hojicha tea, like any other type of green tea, is beneficial for your health. Here are some of the well-known benefits of Hojicha tea:

Rich in Antioxidants: The roasting process doesn’t have a negative effect on the antioxidant activity of this roasted green tea.

Promotes Relaxation and Calmness: Like the other green teas, this green tea type is also rich in the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid is known for helping the body and mind relax and lower anxiety and stress.

The roasting process also creates an aromatic component known as pyrazine, which has a nice calming effect while also stimulating blood circulation.

Boosting the Immune System: The polyphenols and vitamins such as A, C, and E found in this green tea help to strengthen your immune system.

Properly Brewing Hojicha Tea By Using Loose Leaf

Brewing Hojicha tea is significantly easier than brewing other Japanese green teas, where the water temperature is critical, especially for high-quality green teas like Gyokuro green tea. Thanks to the roasting process, Hojicha is tolerant to high temperatures.

Also, always try to buy high-quality loose leaf tea. The leaves of high-quality Hojicha are brown (darker or lighter depending on the roasting process) and have an earthy aroma.

If you notice black leaves, this indicates that they were burnt during the roasting process.  The burnt flavor will come from these black (burnt) leaves. Don’t buy such leaves; always go for uniformly roasted dark brown tea leaves.

So here is what you need to properly brew Hojicha tea using loose leaf:

  • 2 teaspoons hojicha loose tea
  • 1 cup (8 oz) (237 mL) water
  • Water temp: 190°F (90°C)
  • Steeping time: 30 sec.–2 min.

Brewing Instructions

Step 1: Heat the water

When brewing tea, always use quality filtered or spring water. Avoid using tap water. It’s important to adjust the water temperature according to the grade of tea. The higher the grade, the lower the water temperature should be.

Generally, premium Hojicha should be brewed at around 190°F, but always check the brewing temperature of your tea type. Read the label or ask your tea provider about it.

It is ideal to use an electric kettle with temperature settings. The brewing temperature has a significant impact on the taste and aroma of the tea. If you don’t have one, use a tea thermometer or bring water to a boil and let it cool for a while.

Step 2: Put hojicha loose tea into a teapot and pour the hot water

In these instructions for brewing Hojicha tea, I use a standard 8-fl oz cup, so I recommend adding 2 teaspoons of loose tea. If you’re serving your tea in a small cup, you’ll want to use fewer leaves.

After your first brew, you can adjust the amount of tea leaves used. If you like a stronger flavor, increase the amount of loose leaf.

Step 3: Cover the teapot and steep the tea

High-quality Hojicha typically takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes to steep. Depending on the type of Hojicha tea you use, the steeping time will vary.

It’s best to read the label or ask your tea provider about the recommended steeping time.

Step 4: Strain the tea leaves and pour the tea into a cup

Now you can enjoy the smoky aroma of Hojicha roasted green tea. After the first brew, you can re-steep the leaves for a second and third time. Simply add 30 seconds more than the previous steep time.

Hojicha Tea Tips

When hojica’s tea is very hot, it has a stronger smoky flavor. If you don’t like it too much, let the tea cool for some time to bring out hojicha’s natural sweetness.

It’s very low in caffeine, so this tea is suitable for drinking at any time of day. You can drink it at breakfast, after meals, and even at night.

Hojicha pairs well with chocolate, fig, caramel, sesame, vanilla, citrus desserts, etc.

I believe that I’ve covered every basic characteristic of Hojicha tea. For a person who has never tried this roasted green tea, I think this information is enough. Now that you know more about this popular Japanese green tea that is low in caffeine, with a bright-brown color and a unique smoky flavor, I strongly recommend trying it.

Make a cup of Hojicha tea and enjoy the delicious flavor. Just remember to always buy high-quality tea and follow the instructions for brewing temperature and steeping time.