SmoothieDiet

Where To Find Sydney’s Best Hojicha Drinks And Treats

By Published On: April 11, 20245.2 min readViews: 1920 Comments on Where To Find Sydney’s Best Hojicha Drinks And Treats
Matcha is big in Sydney right now. Its bitter-sweet flavour profile, vivid green allure, and lower caffeine quantities have us hooked. However, if matcha’s bitter tannins aren’t your cup of tea, it’s time to meet matcha’s hot (literally, roasted) sibling, hojicha.

You may have seen hojicha popping up on cafe menus and your social media feeds, both in beverage and sweet treat form. Its light brown colour and toasty aroma could fool one into thinking it has no relation to matcha at all. It has a sweet, rich, caramelised flavour that is reminiscent of earthy spices and smoke. To the naked eye, one could mistake a hojicha latte for a glass of milk tea. So what is it?

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Hojicha is quite simply, matcha that has been roasted, which creates the deep, nutty flavour it is known for. “Hojicha is still considered green tea, but it’s just gone through a roasting process,” says Sunny Huang, owner of cafe and specialty tea store Tea Journal in Chatswood.

“It’s very similar to how green coffee beans get roasted into medium light or dark roast coffee beans. Some people actually replace coffee with it just because it’s a similar taste.”

While green tea has been a staple drink in Japan since the 9th century, this is not the case with hojicha. The story goes that a Kyoto tea merchant in the 1920s had an excess of tea that wasn’t selling, and was experimenting with ways to make it marketable.

Some say this was due to the poor state of the rural economy at this time in Japan, and large stocks of tea leaves were going to waste. Another theory is that this tea merchant just wanted to sell their tea leaves that were leftover from the arduous, messy process of harvesting tea leaves to make matcha. Once experimenting with roasting the leaves over charcoal, hojicha was born, and became an instant hit.

Since skyrocketing in popularity in Japan, and now the world, hojicha production has changed drastically to keep up with hot demand. These days it’s rare to find hojicha that has been roasted with the traditional charcoal method.

“Now, the commercial way to make hojicha is to chuck it in the oven,” says Huang. “It’s definitely increased in popularity in the last two to three years… And hojicha’s price has gone up as well.”

Beyond lattes, hojicha’s distinct sweet and smoky flavour is appearing in different types of desserts all across Sydney, from gelato to cheesecakes. Keen to try it? Below are our favourite spots to drink and eat hojicha in Sydney.

Parami

Shop 101/21 Alberta St, Sydney CBD

This onigiri oasis is hidden away down an alleyway from the hustle and bustle of the Sydney CBD. As well as onigiri, Parami has a wide range of hojicha drinks to try—you can customise your hojicha latte with your desired amount of sugar, or order a refreshing hojicha cold brew or hot tea without milk if you really want to taste the essence of the tea as it was originally brewed.

Nomidokoro Indigo

393 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst

Image credit: Nomidokoro Indigo | Instagram

While savoury snacks and sake are the main game at Nomidokoro Indigo, the tiny izakaya bakes a perfectly fluffy and moist hojicha chiffon cake with hojicha cream for dessert. Rich with hojicha flavour, yet light as a feather, this cake never lasts long once baked, so be sure to make an early reservation to not miss out.

Tea Journal

Shop 44, 436 Victoria Ave Chatswood 

A hojicha chocolate cake from tea journalImage credit: Tea Journal | Instagram 

Any tea you drink at this specialty tea store is going to be a serious experience, and Tea Journal’s hojicha latte is no different. They use their same trusted matcha supplier, Kaizen Tea from Shizuoka, Japan to provide premium grade hojicha, which is the tier below ceremonial grade (the earlier the tea leaves are picked, the clearer the flavour and the higher the grade).

This hojicha is also one of the few that is still roasted over charcoal, which provides a smokey depth of flavour. Buy some tea leaves and some special teaware to take home while you’re enjoying your hojicha latte, too.

TenTo

Shop 3, 8 Hill Street, Surry Hills

Image credit: Tento | Instagram 

Strawberry hojicha is an increasingly popular flavour combination, and Japanese cafe and restaurant TenTo riffs on this perfect pairing with its strawberry hojicha iced tea. Hojicha lovers also must try their hojicha and milk blanc manger topped with age-shiratama (deep-fried mochi) and strawberry kanten (a sweet jelly derived from seaweed). Like everything at TenTo, it’s presented beautifully on their signature Japanese ceramic crockery.

Kurumac

107 Addison Road, Marrickville 

This much-loved Japanese cafe has teamed up with the talented churners at Mapo Gelato to create a hojicha milkshake. Rich, sweet, and thick, it’s the perfect marriage of Japanese flavours with a touch of Aussie nostalgia.

Matcha Ya

10 Steam Mill Lane, Haymarket 

Hojicha soft serve from Matcha Ya in SydneyImage credit: Matcha Ya | Instagram

Matcha Ya is the mothership of all things matcha and hojicha in Sydney. Hojicha here comes in every form and flavour your heart desires. Do you want your hojicha strong? Or perhaps spicy? Or topped with marshmallows or mochi? Hot, iced, or frozen? They’ve got you.

The same extensive range is applied to desserts here, too. Hojicha flavoured sponge rolls, soft serve, parfaits, and kakigori (shaved ice) is on offer. Return trips will be necessary to try them all.

15cenchi

The Exchange, Ground Floor, 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket | The Galeries, Lower Ground Floor, 500 George Street, Sydney CBD

a hojicha cheesecake from 15cenchi in SydneyImage credit: 15cenchi | Instagram 

15cenchi has been pumping out textbook Japanese-style burnt Basque cheesecakes since the lockdown days. They have now come into their own with their bricks and mortar stores experimenting with Japanese flavours.

The toasted flavour of their hojicha cheesecake pairs perfectly with the caramelised blackened top of the cake. You can also try their hojicha-flavoured original purin cheesecake with burnt caramel sauce. Back it up with a premium strawberry hojicha drink.

Still hungry? Check out:

Image credit: Matcha Ya | Instagram




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