Deeply roasted and rich homemade hojicha ice cream bursting with roasted green tea flavor. This recipe is extra creamy and decadent, and it’s really easy to make at home.
My love for Japanese flavors knows no limits, as I’m always on the lookout for the next best thing. Widely popular in Japan and Korea, hojicha is a unique flavor that’s slowly gaining popularity in the West as well. And it’s now also one of my favorite flavors!
Hojicha or houjicha is a bit like matcha’s older cousin, more mature in flavor. Made from roasted green tea leaves, this flavor brings in a unique blend of earthiness and warmth, with an aftertaste reminiscent of toasted grains.
After making my all-time favorite Matcha Ice Cream, I wanted to make a hojicha version as well. This Japanese ice cream boasts a deep amber hue and a smoky sweet taste, which makes for a most captivating ice cream flavor.
Hojicha ice cream (ほうじ茶アイス) is a unique ice cream flavor originating from Japan. It’s extremely creamy and rich, with wonderful notes of nuttiness and earthiness and hints of caramel.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Authentic taste: Every bite of this Hojicha ice cream feels like drinking a freshly made cup of roasted green tea. Its deep and rich flavor coats your tongue with smoky notes and leaves a subtle coffee aftertaste. This authentic flavor is the perfect balance between the creamy richness of milk and the deep earthy notes of houjicha.
- Natural flavor: This hojicha ice cream recipe is entirely natural, free from artificial additives. This recipe showcases the pure flavor of roasted green tea powder in a fun and playful way.
- Silky smooth texture: This houjicha recipe is made following a traditional method using eggs, which yields the creamiest and smoothest ice cream ever.
- Easy to make: Despite its rich and complex flavor, this Hojicha ice cream recipe is actually really easy to make. The preparation only takes 10-15 minutes, then the rest is all up to your ice cream maker!
What is hojicha?
Hojicha or houjicha (ほうじ茶) is a Japanese roasted green tea. Its distinct flavor sets it apart from other teas, as it’s made by roasting green tea leaves after they’ve been steamed. This unique process removes any bitter taste and gives houjicha its earthy, deep aroma and smoky taste.
Typically roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal, hojicha has a very rich flavor with caramel notes, and a distinct reddish-brown color.
This type of tea can be found as loose leaf tea or in tea powder form. Both can be used to make a range of different drinks like hojicha latte, tea or smoothies. Roasted green tea flavor is also incredibly popular for baking, commonly used to make Houjicha cheesecakes, cakes and ice cream.
What does it taste like?
When you taste hojicha, you’ll notice a gentle naturally sweet taste that’s reminiscent of roasted coffee beans. This is followed by notes of deep richness and nuttiness, with subtle hints of earthiness.
Roasted Japanese green tea boasts a very unique flavor, with a very pleasant smokiness and a natural creaminess. Due to its roasting method, hojicha has no bitterness, so the flavors feel even smoother.
The aftertaste is also very pleasant, with nutty richness and earthiness lingering on your tongue. Its richness is perfectly balanced in every sip, and every dish made with hojicha is sure to create a unique flavor profile.
The base ingredients used for this recipe can be found in most pantries or easily accessible in most grocery stores. Houjicha is the only specialized ingredient we’ll be using. Here’s what’s needed for this roasted tea ice cream recipe:
- Hojicha – the star ingredient in this recipe. I like to use Hojicha powder because it’s much quicker and easier to use, whilst retaining the amazing flavor. This powder can be found online or in most Japanese or Asian grocery stores.
- Milk – whole milk is needed for this recipe.
- Heavy cream – adds creaminess and richness to the recipe.
- Eggs – eggs are needed to make the consistency of the ice cream silky smooth. Egg yolks make the ice cream taste rich and creamy.
- Sugar – used to add sweetness. I like using plain granulated sugar.
- Salt – optional, but highly recommended. Salt balances out the flavor and helps the roasted tea aroma pop even more. I like to use fine grain pink Himalayan salt because it’s very subtle.
Substitutions & Variations
A few of the ingredients in this recipe can be substituted for ease, and additional ingredients can be added to suit your taste.
- Hojicha powder – can be replaced with hojicha tea leaves. Infuse the milk with 2 teaspoons of houjicha leaves, bring to a simmer, then cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Use a sieve to remove tea leaves, then continue the recipe.
- Milk & cream – can be replaced with half & half in the same quantity.
- Sugar – can be replaced with brown or dark brown sugar. For an even deeper and richer flavor, I recommend using Kokuto Okinawa Brown Sugar. You can also use honey, agave syrup or sweetened condensed milk.
- Vanilla – adds some sweetness and a subtle floral flavor. Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
- Rum – adds a little boozy flavor and helps enhance the roasted flavor. ½ teaspoon of rum extract would suffice. I do not recommend using real rum, as it can prevent the ice cream from freezing properly.
- Chocolate chips – After churning, fold in some dark chocolate chips for a crunchy surprise.
How to make Hojicha Ice Cream
In addition to its unique flavor, the best thing about this ice cream is that it’s super easy to prepare. Let’s begin:
1. In a bowl, whip up the eggs and sugar until frothy.
2. In a separate sauce pan, heat up the cream and half of the milk until bubbling. Pour it into the eggs to temper, whilst mixing continuously.
3. Pour mixture back into sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thickened like a custard.
4. Heat up the remaining milk, then pour it over the sifted houjicha powder.
5. Pour hojicha mixture into the custard base, then mix well. Cool completely, then refrigerate for a few hours.
6. Churn hojicha ice cream in an ice cream machine until soft serve, then freeze until firm.
Success Tips & Tricks
- Use high quality Hojicha powder – when making Houjicha Ice Cream, it’s important to use high quality powder. As the main ingredient, the hojicha flavor comes entirely from the tea powder, so make sure you buy the best one.
- Sift to remove lumps – To ensure the ice cream texture is smooth, use a sieve to sift the tea powder and remove any lumps. This step is important to prevent a grainy texture.
- Prepare tea separately – hojicha should not be cooked at the same time as the custard, as high temperatures can compromise the flavor. Mix roasted green tea powder with hot milk that doesn’t exceed 170°F or 75°C, then whisk well before mixing it with the custard base.
- Balanced sweetness – Authentic Japanese Houjicha Ice Cream recipe is never overly sweet, so be careful how much sugar you add.
- Chill the base before churning – It’s essential to chill the ice cream base thoroughly before churning. Also, when churning, make sure to follow your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions when churning.
- Freeze in a shallow container – Once the ice cream is churned, transfer it into a shallow freezer-safe container. This helps the ice cream freeze evenly and keeps the texture extra smooth.
Serving & Storing
Houjicha ice cream needs to be stored in the freezer. After churning, transfer it into a shallow, freezer-safe container and smooth out the top with a spatula. To prevent ice crystals from forming, place a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream. Seal the container and freeze for up to 2-3 weeks.
For the optimal flavor and texture, consume this houjicha ice cream as soon as possible.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you will love these too:
If you’ve tried this recipe out, please don’t forget to rate and comment on this post. I love hearing from you, so feel free to reach out to me on social media as well and tag me in your posts!
Hojicha Ice Cream Recipe (ほうじ茶アイス)
- 1 cup whole milk (250 grams)
- ½ cup heavy cream (140 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons hojicha powder (8 grams)
- 1 medium egg
- 1 medium egg yolk
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (70 grams)
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl add the eggs and salt. Use a hand mixer to whip the eggs until frothy. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar while continuously mixing, until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy.
- In a saucepan over medium fire, heat the milk and heavy cream until it begins to bubble. If you have a kitchen thermometer, it should reach a maximum temperature of 180°F (80°C).
- In a separate small bowl, sift the hojicha powder to remove any lumps. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of the hot milk onto the houjicha powder and whisk well using a bamboo or electric whisk.
- Pour the remaining hot milk over the eggs, mixing well to combine. Return mixture to the stove, cooking over low heat whilst mixing continuously. It should take about 5 minutes for the eggs to temper. If using a thermometer, it should be a maximum 180°F (80°C).
- Remove the mixture from heat and let it cool for approximately 10-15 minutes or until it reaches the previous temperature of180°F (80°C).
- Pour the houjicha mixture through a sieve into the liquid mixture, whisking well to combine.
- Allow the ice cream base to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or preferably overnight.
- Once chilled, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Churning time can vary, but it typically takes around 30-45 minutes until the ice cream reaches a oft-set consistency.
- Transfer the churned ice cream into a freezer-safe container, smoothing the top with a spatula. Freeze for a minimum of 4-6 hours or until firmly set.
- Nutritional value is estimative only and is calculated per serving, without any additional toppings. This recipe makes 6 servings (2 small scoops per serving).
- Storing: keep in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2-3 weeks. Consume within a few days for the best texture.