How to roast green tea (homemade hojicha)

Learn how to make hojicha: a low caffeine, comforting tea so good that you may never want to drink any other kind again

Small amount of home roasted Hojicha


Matcha has been gaining popularity in the West, but many people still haven’t heard of hojicha.
It is time we change that!: hojicha is delicious, low caffeine, and a proven well-being booster.
In this post you’ll learn how to DIY roast hojicha; you’ll be amazed at the depth of taste you can achieve with a couple of tricks.

What is hojicha and reasons to drink it

Hojicha is a Japanese tea made from roasting green tea.
This roasting process removes the bitterness of the tea and provides an earthy, nutty flavor and a delicious smoky taste.
Hojicha comes also with a natural sweetness and a soothing aroma.

You’ll love this roasted tea because…

  • it has much less caffeine than traditional green tea
  • hojicha maintains the antioxidants (catechin) of green tea
  • it doesn’t have the acidity or grassy taste of some green teas, so it’s a good choice even for people who don’t like green tea so much
  • it tastes very mild
  • this tea can make you feel happier (due to its content in pyrazine, a compound that comes from the roasting and induces calmness)

Of course, you can buy already done hojicha, but the cool thing is, you can also roast it at home: you just need regular green tea and a pan.

Hojicha traditional roasting
This is how hojicha is traditionally roasted, but you can also make it on a regular pan

Some common questions about hojicha

How much caffeine is in hojicha?

Hojicha is not caffeine free, but it has a very low caffeine content.
A cup of hojicha (8 ounces or 230ml) only has around 7.5 mg of caffein.
[A cup of green tea has between 20 and 50 mg of caffeine; a cup of black tea about 45-mg; a cup of coffee, an average of 90 mg]

How to pronounce hojicha

Hojicha is pronounced with a long “o” (hōjicha). You can also spell it houjicha.
Hōji- comes from roasting in Japanese and -cha means tea. 
That means, you don’t have to say “Hojicha tea”; the word hojicha already includes the tea part 😉

Which green tea is best to roast for hojicha?

Hojicha is often made with the Japanese green tea sorts of bancha or sencha, but any kind of green tea will do it; there is no need for a special type.
It’s also okay to choose any old or expired green tea you have at home.
The best practice is to roast loose leaves but I’ve even tried with leafs from teabags (the ones all the connoisseurs despise) and in my opinion, you can get quite decent results too.
Under the main recipe section you’ll find some tricks to make hojicha from teabags.

Hojicha dark roast vs. light roast

Depending on how strong it’s roasted, hojicha can have a golden roast or darker reddish-brown color.
Some people prefer it lighter, while others like it dark and bolder. It’s all about personal preference.

Pan and Hojicha
Hojicha leaves, pan and wood spoon
5 from 3 votes

How to make hojicha (roasted green tea)

Learn how to roast green tea at home to get hojicha: a mild and comforting low caffeine tea
Print Recipe
Prep Time:2 mins
Cook Time:2 mins
Resting time:5 mins
Total Time:9 mins

Equipment

  • Frying pan with lid

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp green tea (15 gr. / half oz.)

Instructions

  • Make sure your pan is clean and dry; otherwise you could transfer fat or odors to your hojicha.
  • Heat the empty frying pan for a couple of minutes, until it's hot (you'll get it quicker with the lid on).
    Heating empty pan with lid
  • Once the pan is hot, turn off the heat and place the pan (briefly, for about 4-5 seconds) on a damp towel. It will make a “shhhh” sound.
    The shhh-sound shows you that the pan is hot enough. Also, putting the pan on a damp towel make the heat even.
    Cooling down frying pan before roasting hojicha
  • Take the pan away from the towel. Extend the tea on the pan and leave it rest, with the lid on, for 2 and half minutes.
    Green tea leaves in pan with lid
  • After that time, remove the lid and turn the heat on (medium-high or high). Roast moving the tea carefully.
    Roasting hojicha from green tea leaves
  • You’ll soon get the signature roasted smell from hojicha. After 1-2 minutes, the leaves will begin to generate some smoke.
    The smoke is the signal to turn the heat off. But if your tea isn’t brownish yet, you can roast a minute longer (just make sure you don’t overdo it: the tea shouldn’t get black or smell burned)
  • After turning the heat off, continue to move the leaves for a couple of minutes, using the residual heat until the smoke stops.
  • You can use your hojicha leaves immediately or store them like any other tea (in a closed recipient on cool and dry environment or freezed).

Notes

  • Hojicha has MANY ROASTING LEVELS: some are darker than others, but there is no relation between the roasting intensity and its quality.
    This means you can roast your tea lightly or stronger, depending on how you prefer it (if you are new to roasting, I recommend to begin with lighter a roasting to avoid burning the tea).
  • You can use any kind green tea leaves (but not matcha powder).
Course: Drinks, Tea
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese tea, low caffeine
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 2kcal

How to make hojicha with tea from tea bags

My mom is a Japanese teacher and as she shared this recipe her students, the most frequent question we got was: does this work with green tea from a teabag?

Tea experts always prefer loose leaf tea because it has more flavor than what you get in an average bagged-tea: the larger the tea leaf, the more flavorful the tea.
And tea from an average teabag is usually much smaller than loose tea.
In this picture you can see an example of how different loose tea leaves and tea from a tea bag can be. Both are from the exact same organic brand:

Green tea from tea bag and loose leaves


But who doesn’t have some teabags at home?
I find them very convenient, but I use them less frequently, so mine are often expired…That’s why I thought “wouldn’t it be great to recycle these into hojicha?”

And to my delight, it worked!

Roasting green tea from a bag is quite similar to roasting tea leaves; there were just a few differences:

  1. Don’t forget to CUT the tea bags to get the tea out before roasting it
  2. The tea from tea bags is much smaller (even powder-ish) than tea leaves. This difference in size means tea particles from tea bags are much more likely to burn, so you need to be extra careful when roasting them
  3. After roasting the hojicha from teabags, you’ll probably need to put the finished hojicha in some sort of tea filter bag again. These small particles love getting stuck everywhere! So to make it more convenient and less messy, I use paper or fine-mesh teabags instead of a tea strainer.
Hojicha from tea bag

How to make a cup of hojicha

Once you have your green tea roasted, it’s very easy to brew a cup o a teapot of hojicha.
No matter if you use homemade hojicha or purchased an already roasted one, just steep in hot water for 30 seconds.

Time needed: 1 minute.

How to make hojicha

  1. Add tea into a cup or teapot

    You need about a tablespoon (3 gr.) hojicha per cup

  2. Pour hot water

    Unlike regular green tea (where you need to let the boiled-down liquid cool before pouring it into the tea), hojicha can be steeped with boiling water. This helps develop hojicha’s trademark rich flavour.

  3. Steep

    Let steep hojicha for 30 seconds

  4. Remove the tea

    Move the water carefully in circles before removing the tea. You can re-use the tea for at least another steep.

What goes well with hojicha?

Hojicha is all about versatility: it pairs well with sweets, but also complements savory flavors.
It tastes good both as hot tea, as iced tea (also cold brewed) and you can drink this flavorful drink plain or adding some milk to create a delicious hojicha latte.

There are also many recipes that use this delicious tea in their cooking process such as hojicha chiffon cake, hojicha ice cream, hojicha cookies, hojicha cupcakes… even ramen noodles with hojicha!

I hope you enjoy drinking this homemade hojicha as well as the relaxing, roasted aroma that spread in your kitchen when making it!

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love matcha but I didn’t know so much about Houjicha till quite recently.
    So I loved this recipe!
    Thank you so much for explaining it so well. I liked that it was very taste but very mild, no bitterness at all.

    1. 5 stars
      That’s so sweet of you, thank you for your comment! I am very happy you liked this Hojicha latte. Hojicha always tastes good, but often I see recipes where they “cook” the Hojicha a little too long… In my opinion, it does the tea no favor.

  2. 5 stars
    So cool! Roasting the tea made it a pleasure to drink my old tea. Thank you for explaining how do it with teabags.

    1. Thank you Cindy. I am so happy you could use that “old” teabag to make Hojicha. I find it almost magical how even average (or cheap) green tea transforms to something much tastier in a couple of minutes.

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