20 Must-Try Japanese Beverages

Japan is a country well-known for its excellent cuisine but also has a lot of unique and delicious drinks. If you think Germany’s beer is too good to resist, wait until you try Japanese liquor - you may have heard of sake, but you can also find delicious plum and citrus wines, as well as an established whiskey tradition. In addition to alcoholic drinks, Japan is also very famous for its tea, such as green tea and sakura tea. To list every drink in the country will take too long, so we'll introduce you to 20 must-try drinks in Japan.

Nationwide

Food & Drink

Non-Alcoholic

1. Matcha (Green Tea made from powder tea)

Mike Maguire/Flickr

Matcha, the deep-green, somewhat-bitter tea powder, has become an important element of Japanese culture because of the central role it plays in the centuries-old tea ceremony (sado). Read more about it here:

2. Genmaicha (Green tea leaves with roasted brown rice)

Tommy C./Flickr

3. Ryokucha (Steamed green tea)

Ryokucha/Flickr

4. Aojiru (“green soup” made from kale)

5. Sakura Tea (Made from edible cherry blossoms)

Tastea.cz/Flickr

6. Matcha Latte (a famous modern drink made from green tea powder and milk)

The matcha latte has become a staple of every cafe in Japan (and even abroad), but some cafes take particular care to produce the perfect latte. Read for 7 of our recommended locations:

7. Kombucha (seaweed kelp tea)

8. Ofukucha

Patrick Vierthaler/Flickr

Usually served during the New Year and Setsubun (beginning of spring according to lunar calendar), Ofukucha is tea mixed with Kombu (seaweed kelp) and pickled plum.

9. Soy Milk

kengo/Flickr

10. Yakult (a very famous probiotic drink)

Alexandra Ventura/Flickr

Alcoholic

11. Sake

Ellie/Flickr

12. Shochu

ivva/Flickr

Shochu is an iconic hard alcohol in Japan, and can be made from rice, sweet potatoes, barley, brown sugar, or buckwheat. For some ideas on which shochu to try first, look through this article!

13. Umeshu Plum Wine

merec0/Flickr

Umeshu consists of plums that have been soaked in shochu or brandy, and is a popular alcoholic drink in Japan due to its sweetness and relatively low alcohol content. Read this article to learn more about this distinctive alcohol!

14. Chuhai (Shochu mixed with soda – more like a Japanese cocktail)

For a better sense of the sheer variety of chuhai that you can find for cheap, wherever you go, check out our list here:

15. Happoshu (low malt beer)

16. Amazake (traditional alcoholic drink made from fermented rice)

Su Yu Neo/Flickr

17. Momoshu (Peach liquor)

18. Yuzushu (Japanese citrus liquor)

19. Japanese whiskey

Dan Theurer/Flickr

20. Awamori (Okinawa’s distilled alcohol)

ryukyu_trip_nagoya

embedded from Instagram

 

What do you think? We've tried to pick out a very wide variety of drinks - with and without alcohol, sweet and sour and bitter - with a long tradition in Japan, that you're unlikely to find in many other places. Try tasting as many of them as possible while you're here, and you just might fall in love with a new taste!

Cover photo: Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

Related Articles

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For recommended experiences:

Learn the Formal Techniques of Preparing Tea in an Authentic Tea Room

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Taste and Compare 5 Different Japanese Teas, Including Matcha

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[On Sake]

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[On Japanese Beer]

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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