Hot Soymilk Gaining New Flavors, Popularity

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Cups of hot soymilk are served at Tofu Room Dy’s in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

Soymilk drinkers now have any number of ways to enjoy their favorite beverage during the cold season. Manufacturers offer various types of soymilk products, while hot soymilk is on the menu at more cafes and tearooms than ever.

One such tearoom is Tofu Room Dy’s in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, where hot soymilk is a customer favorite. The tearoom is committed to using plain soymilk purchased from a tofu manufacturer and serves about 10 different kinds of soymilk drinks, such as its soymilk latte priced at ¥680.

“Customers can choose an iced option as well, but lately many opt for hot drinks,” said Sachiko Yoshigoe, the owner of the tearoom.

There are three types of soymilk: plain soymilk; modified soymilk, which contains salt, sugar or other ingredients to make it easier to drink; and soymilk blended with mixers including fruit juice or tea. Many used to feel that the soya bean smell of the drink was too strong when warmed up, due to the way manufacturers produced their soymilk beverages. This led to the common practice of chilling soymilk drinks. However, the taste of processed soymilk has improved as of late, thanks in part to progress in the processing technology. Now, many people have begun drinking hot soymilk and using it as a replacement for cow’s milk.

As for soymilk available at retail stores, customers can choose from various flavors. Manufacturers also suggest that these drinks should be served hot.

In September, Marusan-Ai Co. in Aichi Prefecture released two new 200 milliliter soymilk beverages that can be served hot for the autumn-winter season. One is chocolate flavored and priced at ¥119, while the other is anko sweet bean paste and butter flavored and priced at ¥103. The added flavors stand out when the soymilk is placed in a heat-resistant container and heated for around one to two minutes in a 500-watt microwave.

“Please, do try hot soymilk,” said a Marusan-Ai official.

Kikkoman Soyfoods Co. in Tokyo is advertising nine of its 26 soymilk beverages lineup as “hottonyu,” meaning “hot soymilk.” One pack of nine drinks includes various flavors such as caramel and dark chocolate. Two of the flavors were newly added in August: tiramisu and dorayaki Japanese pancake. It seems that one reason behind their popularity is that even health-conscious people can enjoy the sweet tastes without feeling guilty.

On social media, many users are introducing their favorite soymilk flavors and favorite ways to serve soymilk, using the popular slang “oshi,” meaning “fave”. Some mix soymilk into amazake sweet rice wine or use it instead of cow’s milk in spiced hot chai.

According to the Japan Soymilk Association, domestic production of soymilk in 2021 totaled around 424,000 kiloliters, about 90% more than 10 years earlier.

“I think the style of drinking hot soymilk will spread further,” said Chihiro Sugitani, the executive officer of the association.