How to Serve Hojicha Latte at a Café
More and more people are finding out about hojicha. Considering its steadily increasing popularity, it’s very likely that it will soon achieve the stature of matcha.
When it comes to green tea, we are pretty much aware that matcha has cemented its place in popular culture. It’s not merely a fad; it has already taken on the timeless identity of flavors like chocolate or vanilla.
Other kinds of green tea are popular among tea aficionados. Matcha, however, has transcended the niche and become quite the household name. Matcha has gone beyond the traditional ceremonial tea drink from Japan and has turned into a sought-after ingredient for drinks and food alike.
Hojicha, which is also more distinctive than other kinds of green tea, started to make itself felt in pop culture shortly before the pandemic began. Since then, it has become a new favorite for many. It mimics many of coffee’s qualities, so transitioning from coffee drinker to hojicha drinker wasn’t a disorienting change for ardent coffee lovers. There are many, of course, who choose to enjoy both.
If you’re considering offering hojicha at your café, it’s really about time. This is something that has a very good potential to bring in fresh clientele as well as convert old customers. For the moment, it may still be considered a hot trend, but based on the trajectory of its journey, it’s pretty easy to predict that it’ll be here to stay.
A Little Background on Hojicha
Hojicha is a Japanese green tea that sets itself apart from other kinds by being roasted instead of steamed. In a porcelain pot over charcoal, the green tea leaves from a second flush of sencha (bancha) or an even later harvest are roasted at 150 degrees Celsius or 302 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so prevents oxidation and produces a light golden color.
A much more recent discovery, hojicha tea was serendipitously first created in 1920 by a Kyoto merchant who decided to roast the bancha he could no longer sell. It’s important to note that, while hojicha is commonly made with bancha, there are variations that use sencha (the most common kind of Japanese green tea) and kukicha (tea made from twigs and stems of the same tea plant).
Hojicha leaves themselves typically come in reddish-brown wedge-like needles, but they are also sold in powder form for flavoring drinks and food. When hojicha is infused, it creates a sweet, toasty, nutty flavor with very little to no bitterness at all. Coffee drinkers who have tried it have observed similar robust flavors, a roasted aroma, and a nuttiness with hints of mocha.
Hojicha, which literally means “roasted tea,” is less astringent than other kinds of green tea due to the high temperatures it goes through in roasting. Instead of the vegetal taste of steamed tea leaves, hojicha takes on a distinct toasty flavor with pleasant caramel notes.
The roasting process leads to lower catechin and caffeine levels. The catechin loss greatly diminishes the bitter quality of tea. The caffeine loss, meanwhile, makes hojicha a preferred nighttime tea, as well as a tea served to children or the elderly. Mind you, hojicha still has those catechins, just not as much as the other green tea varieties. This means that hojicha drinkers can still benefit from their positive effects.
Like other kinds of green tea, hojicha offers excellent health benefits. It has polyphenols that help prevent inflammation, positively impacting muscles, joints, teeth, gums, etc. In addition, it contains vitamins A, C, and E that help boost the immune system, fighting off ailments like the common cold and scurvy. It also boasts healthy fibers that aid in digestion, keeping a healthy colon, and reducing the body’s fat absorption.
These are just some of the healthful properties of hojicha. While they definitely add to this tea’s appeal, its main draw, however, for many who enjoy it, is its unique flavor. In the same way that matcha found a place in the usual list of available flavors of drinks and desserts, hojicha is also lodging itself as a mainstay on the menus of cafés worldwide.
Café Hojicha Offerings
Hojicha has begun to rank among those cozy treats that cafés offer. Matcha is already included in the roster, of course. You’d be hard-pressed to find a café that doesn’t have matcha lattes on its menu. Of course, hojicha hasn’t quite achieved that level of ubiquity yet; after all, matcha has had many more years to embed itself in pop culture. Still, many café owners have been smart enough to ride the fad to see where it would go. And it certainly seems to be going in the same direction as matcha.
Why were hojicha and matcha able to penetrate the pop culture hub, unlike the other green tea varieties that pretty much stayed a niche interest specifically for tea drinkers? For starters, both have very distinct flavors. Matcha intrigues with its hint of umami, while hojicha captivates with its surprising, smoky sweetness. Both also come in powder form, making them easy to use as a flavoring for food and drink. You can use your café’s grinder to pulverize hojicha, but note that café owners can get hojicha powder wholesale, so there’s no need to grind the leaves yourself.
Going around the popular franchises now, you can spot hojicha-oriented menu items. Some of these are hojicha latte, hojicha frappuccino, and hojicha bubble tea. In addition, some places have gotten even more innovative and created drinks like the Kyoto Fog, which is like London
Fog with hojicha instead of earl gray. Another fun drink is the Fizzy Yuzu Hojicha, the hojicha version of the Yuzu Espresso Tonic. This drink melds two distinctly Japanese flavors: yuzu, a citrus fruit, and hojicha.
Hojicha is also now prominently featured among desserts, flavoring pudding, brownies, mochi, bread, cake, cookies, macarons, fudge, ice cream, etc. In fact, hojicha may also be an ingredient in marinades for octopus, in broths used in Japanese hot pots, in a sauce for chashu (slow-cooked pork belly), and many other dishes. Armed with hojicha powder, you and your café can creatively explore to your heart’s content. Look at the different ways you can use hojicha.
But, of course, the most prominent hojicha offering in cafés is the hojicha latte. Even if you’re not yet quite sure how your clientele would receive hojicha, it’s good to have this as a starting point. You can add more hojicha items after you’ve gauged the reception. Nonetheless, based on the general consensus thus far, hojicha latte definitely deserves the chance. Check this out for a great hojicha latte recipe.
Café Hojicha Latte
Lattes are among the most popular beverages in the world. According to data collected in 2020, the latte was the most-ordered drink in UK coffee shops and the third most popular in the US. Most café customers gravitate toward the latte offerings on the menu, so if you’re considering a hojicha drink to include in yours, a hojicha latte would be the smart choice. So what are some of the advantages of serving hojicha latte at your café?
- Hojicha latte could be a healthier alternative to the usual latte. Cafés get a fair share of health- or fitness-conscious customers, so it’s always a good idea to have something that caters to their lifestyle. Hojicha, with its health benefits, would hold appeal. If you serve it with oat milk or another vegan alternative and optionally sweeten it with a more wholesome sugar alternative, you’ll have an ideal drink for a health buff.
- It could be endorsed as a nighttime drink. Since hojicha has significantly lower caffeine levels than coffee and other tea varieties, you could recommend it to customers who come in after 3 p.m. Those who don’t want their sleep routine disrupted by a caffeine hit can safely go for a hojicha latte, no matter how close to bedtime. For this reason, hojicha latte can also be actively marketed for children and elderly consumption.
- It is a closer alternative to coffee. Hojicha’s flavor has some notes to it that are similar to coffee’s. For those seeking to quit or lower their usual latte intake, hojicha latte would make a less disorienting substitute.
- Since hojicha is produced from less expensive tea leaves, a hojicha latte would be a more affordable option compared to other kinds of tea latte and, since tea is cheaper in general, caffe latte as well. This would hold great appeal to those who prefer a more budget-friendly choice.
- Hojicha latte can be served hot or iced. This means that it’s not a seasonal product and can be offered year-round. The implication is good for revenue and cost efficiency. You wouldn’t have to be pressured to use up your supply by the time the season ends.
- Hojicha latte can be very versatile. While it’s not limited to seasons, you can create seasonal offerings with it as the base. Here are some suggestions: hojicha gingerbread latte for winter, rose hojicha latte for spring, peach hojicha latte for summer, and harvest (spiced) hojicha latte for autumn.
- Hojicha has a long shelf life. As a rule, tea leaves or coffee beans last a year in an unopened pack. Once opened, however, they have to be consumed at any time, from a week to a month. With hojicha, you can continue making lattes from an opened pack for about three months before the flavor and aroma start to diminish. This makes hojicha a more cost-effective investment.
- It’s a no-brainer to prepare. Even the most inexperienced barista won’t have trouble making a hojicha latte. You may, of course, tweak the recipe to make your café’s hojicha latte outstanding. You could add a secret step to the process or use specific, unique ingredients, but even with a modification here or there, making a hojicha latte should be pretty straightforward.
- Hojicha may still need a little more time to prove its staying power, but based on the flavors involved and the reception it has thus far garnered, it’s bound to stick around as a menu mainstay. This implies a long-term investment.
Different Ways to Serve Hojicha Latte
If hojicha has been well received at your café and you’d like to offer more variety, the following are some ideas of what you can do to give your hojicha latte a twist.
- Vegan Hojicha Latte: Simply use plant-based milk. Hojicha and oat milk especially make a great combination.
- Keto Bulletproof Hojicha Latte: You can offer this to those seeking a keto-friendly latte. Use ingredients that boost ketones, such as coconut cream, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil.
- Hojicha Latte with Sea Salt: If your salted caramel drinks have quite a following, try garnishing your hojicha latte’s milk foam with a dusting of hojicha powder and sea salt.
- Hojicha Latte Fusion: It can be vanilla, caramel, peppermint, cinnamon, mango, etc. You can experiment to see which flavors match your hojicha latte best.
- Boba Hojicha Latte: cater to the boba tea fans by adding tapioca pearls to your hojicha latte and serving it with a thick straw.
- Hojicha Latte Cocktail/Mocktail: You can add some Baileys, Kahlua, or a non-alcoholic equivalent to make a fun hojicha latte with a little bit of a kick.
Hojicha Tips and Tricks for Café Owners
If you’ve decided to offer hojicha latte at your café, here are some tips and reminders to ensure that you always serve a high-quality drink.
- Frothed milk looks more attractive, but steamed milk is sweeter. If you’re all about tapping the natural sweetness of milk for optimal latte flavor, steamed milk would be preferable.
- Avoid non-fat or low-fat milk. If you want your latte to have great flavor and texture, it should have the richness and creaminess of full-fat milk.
- Find the right balance between the amount of hojicha and the volume of milk to use. You want to avoid ending up with a drink that’s too weak or too strong. Take advantage of that one chance first-time customers give you, so determine the details of your recipe for consistency.
- It’s more efficient to get hojicha in powdered form instead of grinding hojicha leaves and twigs into powder yourself.
- Store your hojicha in a cool, dry, and dark place. Don’t put it in the fridge, as it may be contaminated by condensation and odors.
- Set aside a conservative amount of hojicha for the day so you don’t keep exposing your main supply every time you need to make a hojicha drink.
It’s always a good idea to include trendy drinks on the menu. They gained popularity for a reason, after all. The trend would mean that many people would be interested in trying it. Play the social media game well, and people will know they can get it at your café. Play your cards right, and your café could end up being famous for your hojicha latte.
You can ride the wave of demand until the fad fades, but Hojicha has all the marks of a classic in the making. By making yours delicious as well as Instagrammable, your café will be associated with and recommended for excellent hojicha latte. Your efforts could potentially have long-lasting rewards, so if you’re going to offer hojicha latte, make sure you do it right.
Here are examples of roasted tea we carry:
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