Before a recent trip to Japan, I ordered a matcha soft-serve ice cream cone at a local Japanese market. The clerk asked if I wanted the matcha/hojicha swirl, and I was taken aback… “Hojicha? The tea?” I thought to myself, doubtful of the pairing. I decided to give it a try. The hojicha flavor was so successful, so delicious as an ice cream flavor, that I’ve been back for more- but I order full hojicha. No more swirls.
7-11 proved to be the mother lode. At a 7-11 Premium shop in Saitama, I found a bag of “Hojicha Crunch Choco,” small chocolatey bites with a hojicha flavor. The small size was perfect and the hojicha taste blended well with the chocolate.
Next up was my favorite waffle sandwich cookie, a popular souvenir item found at train stations and airports in Japan. I’ve seen the cookies with vanilla cream filling and with matcha cream filling, but this time I found them with hojicha cream filling at the Kyoto train station. It's a new taste worth sampling.
The last fascinating treat was found at the Ginza Six mall in Tokyo. The shop featured specialties from the various prefectures in Japan, and had hojicha cappuccino from Kyoto. The packets came pre-sweetened with sugar and milk powder, and had an undeniable hojicha taste. These were unusual, but had an intriguing, darker flavor.
I’ve seen hojicha Kit Kats and heard that hojicha cookies, cakes, and nama choco sweets can be found as well. Happy hunting!