The world of Japanese healthy drinks is a wide one, with plenty of different kinds of drinks to suit everybody. The majority of Japanese people will drink a cup of green tea at least once a day, usually in the morning, while fermented drinks are another popular beverage in Japan: Kombucha and amazake have been part of Japanese traditional culture for centuries.
But why are there so many healthy drinks in Japan? It seems to stem from the love of having a healthy lifestyle. In turn, this leads to a focus on drinks that can actively support health, whether that’s through a boosted immune system, gut regulation, or maintaining an intake of antioxidants.
We’ve put together a guide to the best healthy japanese drinks below!
Also known as sencha, green tea has been part of Japanese culture for centuries. This caffeinated beverage is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that are carefully picked and processed to provide the most delicious - and healthy! - tea. It’s thanks to these unoxidized leaves that allows for such healthy Japanese tea: each sip delivers a dose of nutrients and antioxidants to the consumer.
While typically served hot, making cold brewed green tea can also be a delicious way to experience it.
Matcha tea (ground tea) is grown predominantly in the shade, and is ground into a fine powder once the leaves have been picked. The bright green color is due to the sheer amount of chlorophyll in the leaves - which is, of course, why it’s such a healthy drink too! ilan
Matcha is stuffed with vitamins and minerals, and is often considered to be even healthier than green tea. It’s such a popular Japanese flavor that there are snack foods of all kinds that include matcha too, like these rich Matcha Chocolate Crunches.
Mugicha Barley Tea
Mugicha is a hugely popular tea that’s practically regarded as a staple in many East Asian countries. Made from simmering slow-roasted barley grains, mugicha is caffeine free and tastes toasty and a little bitter - like coffee but without the caffeine.
Barley’s naturally high fiber content means the tea is great for digestion and for supporting healthy bowels. The natural antacids are also known to help with heartburn. Though it can be served hot, barley tea is often drunk cold in the summer thanks to its hydrating and cooling effects.
Amazake (not to be confused with sake), is a fermented rice drink with a subtly sweet flavor. Amazake can be made in two different forms: alcoholic and non-alcoholic. While both are made with fermented rice and water, the former uses a byproduct of sake which makes it alcoholic.
Amazake is a popular New Year’s beverage, served warm to combat the colder weather. It’s really healthy thanks to its high amount of protein and its naturally occurring glucose.
Yakult is well known all over the world as a delightfully mini drinkable yoghurt, but you might be surprised to learn that it’s actually a Japanese product! Yakult is a probiotic – and interestingly enough, the particular strain of bacteria that makes Yakult fermented is actually exclusive to the brand that uses it.
Each tiny bottle of Yakult contains over six billion Lacticaseibacillus paracasei Shirota (L. paracasei Shirota), which head straight to your gut and help support all manner of digestive processes. When drunk every day, Yakult can provide long-term digestive support and boost the immune system.
‘Kurozu’ Black Vinegar
It may seem a little odd to actively drink vinegar, but there are significant benefits to it! Black vinegar is a popular japanese health drink that’s typically diluted with water and consumed as a tonic (though it’s also used in making dressings and condiments too).
A lighter cousin of Chinese black vinegar, kurozu is highly nutritious, filled with amino acids and acetic acids which are reputed to help with weight loss. It’s fermented using a traditional method called ‘Kotai Hakkou’, where a mixture of steamed brown rice, malted koji rice (unpolished rice) and water is brewed in clay pots.
The yuzu fruit is one of Japan’s most popular citrus fruits, so it’s no wonder that yuzu has also been made into a deliciously refreshing tea. It can be drunk hot or cold, and offers a relaxing effect that helps with anxieties or stressors.
Yuzu has a ton of antioxidants and Vitamin C to improve immunity, making it a wonderful option for those suffering from a cold. Yuzu and ginger is a perfect combination in tea form, and you can get pre-packaged herbal tea sachets at our Bokksu Japanese snack boutique.
Shiso is an essential part of traditional medicine practices in Japan and China, used for its anti-inflammatory properties and particularly with regard to skin issues. Made from green shiso leaves (or red, though this version is less well known), the resulting shiso juice is high in rosmarinic acid and is often drunk as an immune-boosting tonic.
The leaves are often utilized in herbal remedies but can just as easily be included in salads, sushi and other dishes, adding a good dose of calcium and iron to your meal.
Gobo, the Japanese word for burdock root, is a hugely popular ingredient: it’s loaded with vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, regulates inflammation and is particularly beloved for its anti-aging properties.
Gobocha is a non caffeinated tea made from dried burdock leaves that have been roasted. It’s often drunk in Japan by those suffering with a head cold.
Aojiru Green Juice
If you’ve never heard of this Japanese vegetable juice drink, prepare to be amazed. Aojiru is made from a mixture of assorted green and yellow vegetables, typically kale and young barley leaves. It packs a punch of nutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals, with many Japanese drinking it for improving their general health.
Despite the slightly bitter taste it’s hugely popular in Japan, so much so that there are dozens of different powdered sachet versions available, all with slightly different flavors.
While you’re trying out the best Japanese healthy drinks, it makes sense that you treat yourself to some delicious snacks alongside. Bokksu offers gorgeous monthly subscription boxes that are filled with a selection of curated Japanese snacks and tea pairings.