Written by Hilary Keyes
Cold Hands? Warm Up With One Of These 5 Japanese Winter Drinks
Winters in Japan can be quite chilly, so you'll want to find someway to keep yourself warm - and these five drinks can help! Here are five of the best winter drinks you can enjoy in Japan.
Winters in Japan can be downright cold depending on where you visit. Just this past week, the Tokyo area experienced a record low of 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit) at night - something that hasn't happened here in November in 43 years!
With that kind of weather to contend with, you might find yourself needing something to warm yourself up with. Here are five of the best drinks you can warm your hands and heart with during a winter vacation in Japan.
1. Green Tea
While you can find green tea, or matcha, at department stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants all across Japan, those looking for something a bit different should try green tea espresso, a special drink prepared only at Caffeineholic.
Caffeineholic is the world's first caffeine charge bar and it opened in Toranomon, Tokyo, in August of 2016. Their green tea espresso is made from tea grown in Kakegawa, Shizuoka prefecture, and is mild yet flavorful, and packs the energy punch that any good cup of espresso should have.
2. Shogacha (Ginger Tea)
If you are feeling a bit run down and think you're starting to catch a cold, besides wearing a mask, there's one other thing that's sure to both warm you up and get you feeling a bit better: shogacha and shogayu, or ginger tea and ginger drinks.
Ginger tea is very much like its Western counterparts, but shogayu is a distinctly Japanese drink. Available at convenience and drug stores, shogayu is a powder that you add to hot water and drink. It can vary from a mild, gingery drink, to one that tastes as though you've taken a bite out of a chunk of fresh ginger, and is sure to have you feel warm and healthier in no time.
The Japanese are big coffee drinkers, and you will find any number of unique Starbucks locations across the country to choose from if you are looking for your own coffee fix. But, Japan also has plenty of unique cafes to choose from too, such as Sumida Coffee, where you can enjoy your coffee in an Edo Kiriko glass, or at Papa Noel, a charming cafe found at Minowabashi Station on the Toden Arakawa Line.
Amazake is a sweet drink made from white rice that can be enjoyed both hot and cold - although it tastes best when drunk hot! While it does have sake in the name, there are two different ways in which it may be made, one of which does not contain any alcohol whatsoever.
Amazake can be made from malted rice (non-alcoholic) or from sake lees (contains less than 1% alcohol), though because there is a small amount of sake in it, those who have allergies or religious restrictions against alcohol should be aware of this before giving it a try.
You'll find amazake in traditional sweets shops, at yatai stands, shrines and temples during the New Year's celebrations, and of course in supermarkets and convenience stores too.
5. Japanese Style Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is an internationally loved drink, and one that winter just isn't complete without! In Japan, you'll find hundreds of different takes on this drink, from plain hot chocolates, to extravagantly flavored cocoas overflowing with whipped cream and toppings.
If you'd like to try a slightly more Japanesque take on this winter classic, then the Dandelion Chocolate Factory and Cafe Kuramae in Kuramae is a spot you won't want to miss. Here, they blend their own brand of luxury chocolate with roasted green tea, which gives it a subtle sweetness and rich, thoroughly warming base.
Warm Up and Enjoy the Unique Flavors of Japan
While winter in Japan can be quite frosty, these drinks are sure to keep you warm both inside and out. Enjoy winter in Japan with a nice hot drink to keep you company!