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Amazake – Japan’s Sweet, Healthy, and Non-alcoholic Sake

Greetings, sake enthusiasts and curious readers! Today, we’re setting sail on a flavorful voyage to the heart of Japan, exploring a traditional beverage that has delighted the Japanese for centuries – Amazake. But before we delve into the sweet, creamy world of this non-alcoholic sake, allow me to share a slice of my personal journey.

A Sake Advisor’s Tale

Picture a bustling restaurant in Carmel, CA, known far and wide for its extensive sake selection. As the resident sake advisor, my days were filled with ordering sake, liaising with representatives, and recommending the perfect sake to our diverse clientele. It was during this time that I discovered the sweet charm of Amazake. Now, let’s unravel its story.

What is Amazake?

Amazake, or “sweet sake,” is a traditional Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. Despite its name, it’s not exactly sake. While both are made from rice, it is a non-alcoholic or very low-alcohol beverage that has a sweet, dessert-like flavor. It’s made using a special mold called rice koji or Aspergillus oryzae, which is also used in making other fermented foods like miso and soy sauce.

How is it Made?

The creation of Amazake is a testament to the Japanese mastery of fermentation. There are two main methods of making Amazake. The first one uses rice koji, where the rice is inoculated with the Aspergillus oryzae mold. The second method uses sake lees, a byproduct of sake production. Both methods result in a sweet, creamy drink that’s often enjoyed warm, but can also be served chilled.

Health Benefits of Amazake

Amazake isn’t just a sweet treat; it’s also a healthful elixir. It’s rich in vitamins, amino acids, and probiotics, making it a nutritious addition to your diet. Some even call it a “drinking IV” because of its nutrient-dense profile.

Amazake in Japanese Culture

Amazake has a long history in Japanese culture. It’s often served during festivals and other special occasions. It’s also a popular drink during the New Year celebrations, symbolizing a sweet start to the year.

Different Types of Amazake

While Amazake is generally known as a sweet, non-alcoholic drink, there are actually two types. The first type, which is the most common, is made from rice koji and is non-alcoholic. The second type is made from sake lees, a byproduct of sake production, and contains a small amount of alcohol. Both types offer the same sweet, creamy flavor that it is known for.

Serving Suggestions

Amazake is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed in various ways. Traditionally, it’s served warm, often with a pinch of ginger to enhance its flavor. However, it can also be served chilled, making it a refreshing drink for the summer months. In addition to being a standalone drink, it can also be used as a sweetener in desserts or as a base for smoothies and shakes.

Amazake vs. Sake:

While both Amazake and sake are made from rice and involve a fermentation process, they are not the same. Sake, also known as rice wine, is an alcoholic beverage with a distinct flavor profile that ranges from sweet to dry. On the other hand, Amazake is a sweet, non-alcoholic drink that has a creamy texture. The main difference lies in the fermentation process and the use of rice koji in making it.

What Does Amazake Taste Like?

Amazake has a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other drinks. It has a sweet, slightly tangy taste with a creamy texture. Some people describe it as tasting like a sweet porridge or a dessert soup. Despite its sweetness, it’s not overpowering and offers a subtle, delicate flavor that’s easy to enjoy.

Is There Alcohol in Amazake?

The alcohol content in Amazake depends on the type. The one made from rice koji is non-alcoholic and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The other type, made from sake lees, contains a small amount of alcohol, usually less than 1%.


Amazake is more than just a sweet sake; it’s a testament to Japan’s rich culinary heritage and the art of fermentation. Whether you’re a sake enthusiast or a curious foodie, Amazake is a delightful drink that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

So, why not give it a try? You might just find your new favorite drink. And who knows? You might even be inspired to start your own fermentation journey at home. As they say in Japan, “Kanpai!” or “Cheers!”

Remember, if you want to learn more about sake and its varieties, don’t hesitate to explore our sake basics and types of sake sections. You’ll find a wealth of information that will deepen your appreciation for this wonderful Japanese beverage.






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