Years ago, a friend went to Japan for a holiday and came back. I asked him how his trip was and if he had gotten his matcha-everything fix. He beamed and said he loved his trip (because how could he not?). But to answer my matcha question, while matcha was clearly delicious (and increasing in popularity here in the States in literally every food and beverage type imaginable then), he told me that his food prediction was that the future was hojicha, not matcha! Matcha would soon be old hat, and the future IS hojicha!
Fast forward to the present day, and I still see very little to no hojicha-flavored anything here in New York, with the exception of a handful of Asian/Japanese spots as well as bubble tea cafes. Matcha is still ubiquitous even at non-Asian eateries and cafes. And we have a 2-year-old girl who is nicknamed “Hoji” after “hojicha” thanks to Chris’s unconventional name preferences. So while hojicha is not necessarily the future for food in the U.S. just yet, I did notice quite a number of hojicha flavored things during this trip in Japan.
Hojicha was always a top option for tea everywhere we went. At the fancy tea cafe Nakamura Tokichi, where we went for our last sit-down meal while in Tokyo, the welcome, complimentary pot of tea had premium whole leaf hojicha in a high-end tea bag meant to be re-steeped multiple times. They had various hojicha desserts, including a hojicha float and hojicha jelly (which we ordered!). And as a final farewell from Japan on our Japan Airlines flight back to New York, the last dessert I had in flight was a beautiful, silky smooth hojicha milk custard.
We love hojicha everything and would welcome hojicha as a mainstream flavor here in New York. But I’m not sure even New York is quite ready for it yet.