Hojicha contains caffeine to some degree, but its amount is much lower than the caffeine amount of other Japanese teas such as gyokuro, matcha and sencha. So why is the caffeine content of hojicha so low? This is because hojicha is made by roasting green tea, and much of the caffeine is lost during the roasting process.
Any other factors that can affect the amount of caffeine in hojicha?
Also, the amount of caffeine in hojicha depends on the time of harvest of the raw green tea and which parts are used. In most of Japan's tea farms, new leaves that come out in the spring (around April to May) are harvested as the first flush. The second flush is harvested in the late spring and summer, and the third flush is harvested in the fall, which is called bancha. The later the tea is harvested, the lower the amount of caffeine, so bancha has very low caffeine content. Most hojicha is made from bancha. As the low caffeine bancha is roasted , so the amount of caffeine becomes lower further.
So what about kuki hojicha?
Many tea farms use the leafy part of the first flush tea leaves to make sencha (or gyokuro, or matcha). The remaining stems are sometimes used to make kukicha, or roasted to make kuki hojicha. The stems have less caffeine than the leaves, so even if they are harvested during the first flush season, the caffeine content of kuki hojicha is low.
This is why hojicha is good for bed time tea. Or if you want to drink some tea on an empty stomach in the morning, or before a meal, hojicha is a good choice!