Exploring Japanese Beverages: From Traditional Teas to Modern Sodas – Bokksu Market

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Exploring Japanese Beverages: From Traditional Teas to Modern Sodas

by Bokksu Staff

At the heart of Japan's drink culture are traditional drinks, like green tea, sake, and shochu, which are celebrated for their history and role in ceremonial rituals. Yet, alongside these classics, Japan also embraces innovation with drinks like craft cocktails and uniquely flavored sodas, pushing the boundaries of taste and technique. By striking a delicate balance between tradition and innovation, Japanese drinks captivate drinkers around the world, inviting them to toast to Japanese culture and creative spirit.

Popular Japanese Drinks You Must Try

A variety of Japanese drinks

A trip to Japan is incomplete without trying its staple beverage - ryokucha (Japanese green tea), which comes in several varieties like matcha (powdered green tea) and genmaicha (roasted brown rice tea). Green tea can be enjoyed traditionally, steeped in hot water and savored in its purest form, or in bottled or canned varieties for the on-the-go enjoyment.

Some of the most popular Japanese drinks also worth trying are Calpico or Calpis Soda, Japan's "first lactic acid beverage" which comes in fruity flavors like lychee and strawberry; and Pocari Sweat, a sports drink known for its refreshing taste and balance of ions (electrolytes!).

Asahi Calpico: Strawberry

Strawberry Calpico may be one of the cutest beverages you’ll ever have. The opaque pink yogurt drink contains lactic acid for a touch of tang. One sip and you'll agree -- it tastes like real summer strawberries.

Common Allergens: Milk, Soy.

16.9 oz

The Tradition of Japanese Tea: More Than Just a Drink

Japanese green tea

Japanese tea holds profound cultural significance in Japan, serving as an integral part of traditional rituals and daily life. It symbolizes tradition, hospitality, and social harmony within the Japanese people. This rich cultural heritage has led to the creation of a wide range of Japanese teas, each carefully nurtured and crafted to embody the essence of the nation's landscapes and seasons.

In addition to the classic green tea and matcha green tea, Japan offers a range of intriguing tea options that are worth exploring. These include genmaicha tea, or roasted barley tea; sencha green tea, which is known for its grassy flavor; kelp tea, a traditional drink made from seaweed; and cherry blossom tea, a delicately flavored herbal tea made from cherry blossom petals.

Try out four of Japan's popular tea flavors with Itoen Oi Ocha Green Tea: Variety Pack available on Bokksu Market! This pack includes Golden Oolong Tea, Genmaicha Green Tea, Classic Green Tea, and Houjicha Roasted Tea.

Itoen Oi Ocha Tea: Variety Pack (4-pack)

From Japan's #1 green tea brand comes Itoen Oi Ocha Green Tea: Variety Pack! This bundle pack includes popular bottled teas like Golden Oolong Tea, Genmaicha Green Tea, classic Green Tea, and Houjicha Roasted Tea! Light, unique, and always refreshing, this set is great for those looking to switch up their caffeinated beverage routine!

Please Note: The above image is a sample of items you could receive in your pack, but are not guaranteed. Items may change based on inventory.

Please Note: The items in this pack do not come pre-packaged together, they will arrive as individual items. If you order additional Market items, the items in this pack may be mixed in with your order.  

Sale $11.99 Regular $12.99 8% OFF

Matcha Green Tea: The Vibrant Heart of Japanese Beverages

Matcha green tea stands as a cornerstone of Japanese beverage culture, cherished for its rich flavor, vibrant green hue, and numerous health benefits. Derived from finely ground green tea leaves, matcha is not just a beverage but a symbol of Japanese tradition and craftmanship.

Its preparation involves a meticulous process, from shading the tea plants to hand-picking the leaves and stone-grinding them into a fine powder. Beyond its exquisite taste, matcha is celebrated for its health benefits. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it boosts metabolism, enhances focus, and promotes relaxation without the jittery effects of caffeine.

Moreover, matcha plays a significant role in Japanese tea ceremonies, which are steeped in centuries-old traditions and rituals, emphasizing harmony, respect, and tranquility. In modern times, matcha has transcended traditional confines to become a versatile ingredient in various culinary creations, from desserts and pastries to savory dishes and cocktails. As a result, there is now a variety of green tea powder conveniently packaged in tea bags, like Itoen Matcha Green Tea: Traditional, allowing enthusiasts to effortlessly prepare and serve it to guests as a gesture of hospitality.

Itoen Matcha Green Tea: Traditional (20 bags)

These individually wrapped tea bags blend the flavor and aroma of world-renowned matcha powder with a lighter sencha green tea. While the sencha leaves unfurl, matcha powder slowly filters through the bag and into your cup. This dream blend makes a superb, clear taste that’s so green we have to confirm now: both flavor and color are 100% natural!

1.05 oz

Milk Tea: A Creamy Twist on Traditional Tea

While tea has been enjoyed in Japan for centuries, milk tea was introduced during the Meiji period, when Western influence began to shape Japanese culinary traditions, as a luxury item only served in exclusive tea houses. Over time, it gained popularity among the masses and evolved into a beloved beverage in Japan. It comes in various forms, ranging from bottled and canned versions found in vending machines, to freshly brewed options served in cafes and tea shops.

The traditional recipe typically includes black tea, milk, and sugar, but modern variations have incorporated different tea bases such as hojicha (roasted green tea) and added flavors like vanilla or fruit essences to enhance the taste profile. Unlike Western versions of bubble tea, Japanese milk tea boasts a creamier mouthfeel and a more subdued sweet taste, allowing the subtle tea notes to shine through.

Among Japan's myriad of milk tea flavors, perennial favorites include classic black tea, known for its robust flavor; green milk tea, a refreshing drink with subtle grassy notes; and royal milk tea, a premium blend featuring Assam tea. Japanese milk tea, like Sangaria Royal Milk Tea, is best enjoyed with traditional Japanese sweets or savory snacks!

Sangaria Royal Milk Tea

You don't need a palace to enjoy this Royal Milk Tea. Made with top-shelf black tea leaf, real sugar and 25% real milk, it's like chai without the spice. This gently sweet beverage comes in a beautiful, regal looking can, has a caffeine content somewhere between green tea and coffee and is best served cold.

Common Allergens: Milk.

8.96 oz

The Art of Japanese Coffee: A Beverage Phenomenon

Woman drinking coffee

Japan's coffee culture has experienced a remarkable evolution, seamlessly blending traditional precision with contemporary trends. Initially revered as a luxury beverage rooted in meticulous preparation methods, coffee in Japan transitioned with the growing demand for convenient drinks in the 20th century, leading to the rise of instant and canned coffee.

However, this did not deter coffee purveyors from maintaining their commitment to quality and craftmanship. In fact, in recent years, Japan has embraced the third-wave coffee movement, characterized by a focus on specialty beans, artisanal roasting techniques, and emphasis on sustainability. Baristas meticulously prepare each cup of coffee, employing methods such as pour-over and siphoning, to highlight the nuances of beans sourced from single-origin farms around the world.

Whether enjoying a BOSS Rainbow Mountain Blend from a vending machine or savoring a specialty espresso crafted in a third-wave coffee shop, Japan presents a diverse and vibrant coffee scene for enthusiasts worldwide to explore.

Suntory BOSS Rainbow Mountain Blend Canned Coffee

In Japan, there is no need to search for “coffee near me”, you can’t walk down a street without seeing a coffee vending machine! BOSS Coffee has consistently been front and center; rated higher over coffee shops by many. Each can is brewed with coffee beans from Guatemala and topped with milk and sugar. It's well-balanced, rich, aromatic, and strong on caffeine. Though canned coffee is not the most popular outside of Japan, we urge you to crack one open and take a sip. Consistently fresh and easily consumed on the go, start your day right with BOSS coffee!

Common Allergens: Milk.

6 oz

Japanese Soda: A Fizzy Adventure in Flavor

Glass of melon soda

The Japanese penchant for creativity extends to their soda, with a variety of unique and intriguing flavors that comes in eye-catching and whimsical packaging that appeal to both children and adults alike. At the core of unique Japanese drinks lie two popular drinks that not only quench thirst but also evoke feelings of nostalgia and joy: Ramune and Melon Soda.

Ramune, Japan's iconic marble soda, is famous for its unique packaging and opening mechanism. Encased in a distinct Codd-neck bottle, Ramune features a glass marble that seals in the carbonation. Drinkers must push down the marble with a plunger to open it, creating a delightful pop. It comes in a different flavors, from fruity flavors like Sangaria Ramune Soda: Strawberry to exotic options like chili oil.

Meanwhile, Melon Soda emerges as a quintessential summer beverage in Japan. Often served with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Japanese melon soda delights the palate with its refreshing taste and indulgent presentation.

Sangaria Ramune Soda: Strawberry

This traditional sweet, slightly carbonated Ramune soda has a beautiful blossom pink color and authentic strawberry flavor with all the best parts of the iconic bottle. To open this marble soda, you'll remove the plastic bit on top and pop the marble straight down the neck, which cradles the marble halfway down. Made with real sugar and strawberries, sip on an ice cold one of these (on a hot day, or anytime!)

6.76 oz

Japanese Alcoholic Beverages: Beyond Sake

Japanese rice wine or sake

Japan's spectrum of alcoholic beverages reflects the diversity of its culture, encompassing a variety of traditional drinks rich in both heritage and creativity. From the elegant refinement of Japanese sake to the robust character of shochu, and the fruity allure of umeshu, each drink present a distinctive journey for those with discerning palates.

Sake holds a central place among Japan's alcoholic beverage scene, esteemed for its craftmanship and versality. Made from fermented rice, sake ranges from dry and crisp to rich and full bodied, showcasing the expertise of the brewer and the quality of the ingredients. Whether served warm or chilled, it is frequently enjoyed during significant events like weddings and ceremonial gatherings.

Shochu, on the other hand, presents a unique character with its potent yet intricate flavors. It is crafted from various base ingredients including barley, sweet potatoes, and rice, resulting to a wide spectrum of taste profiles - from earthy to robust to floral and fruity. Unlike Japanese sake which is brewed, shochu undergoes a distillation process, resulting in a higher alcohol content and a smoother finish. Shochu is flavored for its versatility in cocktails, making it a staple in izakayas and social gatherings.

Umeshu, or plum wine, adds a touch of sweet note to Japan's alcoholic repertoire with its fruity essence. Crafted by infusing Japanese plums in alcohol and sugar, umeshu boasts a vibrant color and a lush taste evoking summer orchards. It is often served cold or mixed with soda water. And because of its gentle acidity and delicate sweetness, Japanese plum wine is a flavored option for both casual gathering and celebratory moments.

The Rise of Japanese Craft Beer

A variety of Japanese craft beers

In recent years, Japan has witnessed a remarkable surge in the popularity of craft beer, signaling a shift in consumer preferences towards more diverse and flavorful brews. Craft beers typically boast a higher alcohol content compared to mass-produced beers, contributing to their richer flavor profiles. Japanese craft brewers are known for their creative incorporation of local ingredients, such as yuzu, sweet potatoes, and matcha, imparting uniquely Japanese nuances to their brews.

At the forefront of Japan's craft beer movement are pioneering breweries such as Yoho Brewing Company, renowned for its flagship product - the Yona Yona ALE, and Echigo Beer Co., Ltd., the country's first microbrewery, known for its rice-style lager, the Echigo Koshihikari Beer.

Non-Alcoholic Japanese Drinks: Refreshing and Unique

Japan's beverage culture extends far beyond sake and matcha tea, boasting a wide array of non alcoholic drinks to tantalize the taste buds. Among these delights is the unique sweet flavor of Amazake, a traditional Japanese drink made of fermented rice. This sweet sake can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and can feature flavors with fruity notes or floral undertones, making it a very popular drink in Japan, regardless of occasion.

Other famous Japanese drinks are flavored soy milk, featuring unique options such as banana and pudding flavors; aloe drinks, prized for their antioxidants effects; and sports drinks like Pocari Sweat. You can easily find these popular Japanese drinks at convenience stores and vending machines across the country.

Masuya Miso Amazake: Non-Alcoholic Sweet Sake

Amazake is a traditional Japanese fermented rice drink that has a thicker consistency and sweet/sour taste. It typically comes with a low alcohol content or as a non-alcoholic drink. This non-alcoholic sweet sake is a great option for those who want to use amazake but have a sensitivity to or avoid alcohol. Enjoy this delicious drink hot, cold, or mixed with milk. You can also use it to flavor foods like smoothies, pancakes, or pudding.

Bonus: This amazake is sugar-free and additive free. It's only made with rice and rice koji!

16.9 oz

Seasonal Japanese Beverages: A Year-Round Exploration

Cold Japanese tea for summer

Seasonal changes have a significant influence on Japanese beverage choices, with each season bringing its own unique preferences.

During the scorching summer months, people in Japan often turn to refreshing and hydrating drinks, like Tomomasu Muskmelon Sparkling Soda and Oi Ocha Hojicha Roasted Tea, to combat the heat. Mugicha barley tea is also a popular drink in the summer. Boasting a delicate, nutty flavor complemented by subtle earthy notes, this refreshing beverage will cool you down in no time!

As the weather transitions to autumn and eventually winter, hot beverages become more desirable to combat the chill in the air. Hot sake, a traditional Japanese rice wine, becomes particularly popular during these colder months. Served warm, sake offers a comforting warmth and subtle sweetness that makes it perfect for sipping on chilly evenings.

Tomomasu Muskmelon Sparkling Soda

Muskmelon is a delicious fruit in the gourd family known for its distinctive aroma (think like cantaloupe). This sparkling soda has perfectly captured its flavor and scent to create a yummy, refreshing drink. It has a lightly sweet taste that is perfectly complimented by the carbonation. Enjoy it with cold soba noodles to help you beat the summer heat!


Sale $2.62 Regular $3.49 25% OFF
10.14 oz

The Future of Japanese Beverages: Trends to Watch

As the global interest in health and wellness grows, Japan is poised to witness a surge in demand for non-alcoholic drinks and functional drinks with diverse flavors and targeted health benefits. Moreover, we expect the ongoing trend of artisanal and craft beverages, influenced by cultural exchange and globalization, to persist in the coming years.

Embracing these trends will enable Japan's beverage industry to remain competitive and cater to the evolving preferences of modern consumers, both domestically and internationally.

Where to Find Authentic Japanese Beverages

Find authentic Japanese drinks outside of Japan by visiting Asian supermarkets or specialty Asian markets in your area. These stores may have a dedicated section for Japanese drinks, offering a variety of options to choose from.

Alternatively, you can discover Japan's finest beverages from the comfort of your home with Bokksu Market's online website. From classic teas to unique artisanal creations, we bring the taste of Japan right to your doorstep. Explore our curated selection and experience the essence of Japanese culture with every sip!

The Endless Variety of Japanese Beverages

Amidst the vibrant tapestry of Japan's culture, lies a treasure trove of beverages waiting to be discovered. From centuries-old traditions to cutting-edge innovations, Japan's drink culture embodies a harmonious blend of the past and the present, offering a fascinating journey for those eager to explore.

Whether you're wandering through Japan's lively streets or perusing the shelves of a nearby convenience store, the opportunities to discover popular Japanese drinks are boundless. And if a trip to Japan isn't in the cards, worry not! You can explore Bokksu Market's extensive array of Japanese beverages right from the cozy confines of your home. So what are you waiting for? Lift your glass and set off on an adventure through the enchanting realm of drinks in Japan. Kanpai!

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Exploring Japanese Beverages: From Traditional Teas to Modern Sodas


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