Ingredient Series: What are adzuki beans?

Ingredient Series: What are adzuki beans?

What are adzuki beans?

If you’ve ever tried traditional Japanese sweets, chances are you’ve heard of adzuki beans. They’re one of the most popular legumes in Japan along with soybeans. Pronounced “azuki,” adzuki beans are small red beans that form a part of the mung bean family. Their distinct color makes them easily confused with kidney beans, but on closer look they’re much smaller in size, different in shape, and impart a totally unique flavor.

Historical use of adzuki beans

It is said that adzuki beans were first cultivated in China before they made their way over to Japan during the Jomon era. The ancient Chinese prized adzuki beans for their medicinal properties and believed them to boost chi or energy and support the blood.

Nutritional properties of adzuki beans

Adzuki beans are naturally low-fat and offer a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fiber in a single serving. They’re also loaded in nutrients including folate, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and magnesium, and contain a variety of antioxidants that help defend the body from the damaging effect of free radicals. Seemingly small but a mighty nutritional powerhouse, it’s no wonder that adzuki beans have been garnering a reputation as a superfood.

How do you prepare adzuki beans before cooking?

It can be helpful to soak, sprout or ferment your adzuki beans before cooking. This will not only speed up their cook time, but help bring out adzuki beans’ creamy and smooth texture. It’s also important to note that like all legumes, adzuki beans do contain some anti-nutrients that can interfere with the body’s ability to completely absorb all the nutrients the bean has to offer. Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting them breaks down these anti-nutrients, and makes the adzuki highly bioavailable and easy to digest.

How are adzuki beans enjoyed today?

Adzuki beans’ slightly sweet flavor makes it a highlight in both sweet and savory dishes, and in Japan it can be found in a diverse range of treats including ice cream, tea, rice, and traditional Japanese sweets. Once only associated with Asian cuisines, adzuki beans have more recently become a favorite with creative recipe developers and foodies worldwide, who feature the bean as a star ingredient in buddha bowls, curries, soups, salads, hummus, veggie patties, and other fusion foods.

Who would enjoy adzuki beans?

Since adzuki beans lend a naturally sweet touch to any dish, they’re the perfect way to help keep sugar cravings at bay. If you’re watching your sugar consumption, an adzuki-based drink like Juroku Cha can help you limit your intake of sugary drinks. For something more filling, try incorporating adzuki beans in your diet through food sources like curries, bowls, stews, and soups.

Adzuki beans and Juroku Cha

It should be pretty clear by now that adzuki beans have the ability to add a hint of sweetness to any food or drink, which is why we’ve included it as one of Juroku Cha’s sixteen main ingredients. The dash of slightly sweet and mild nutty taste complements Juroku Cha’s toasted flavor, without being overpowering. This also means that azuki-based desserts tend to pair deliciously well with Juroku Cha.


Here are 3 popular adzuki (red bean) Japanese sweets that perfectly pairs with Juroku Cha

What do many wagashi or traditional Japanese sweets have in common? They’re filled with anko, a sweet red bean paste derived from adzuki beans that gives Japanese desserts a deep and rich flavor. Much like peanut butter, anko comes in two textures, the chunky tsubuan and smooth koshian. Let’s take a look at iconic Japanese confections that owe their popularity to the beloved red bean!

Japanese red bean paste sweets  - Dorayaki


Popularized by the dorayaki-loving TV cartoon character Doraemon, dorayaki is one of the most enjoyed treats by children and adults alike. It is best described as red bean paste sandwiched between two sweet golden pancakes, and its familiarity to the western palate makes it a great introductory snack for the wagashi beginner. Although the origins of dorayaki are said to date back several centuries, the treat took on its current sandwich-style in 1914 when it was recreated by a confectionary in Ueno, Tokyo. The owner took inspiration from Europe’s castella cake for Dorayaki’s fluffy texture and infused a touch of traditional Japanese flavor with ingredients like mirin (sweet rice wine) and shoyu (soy sauce) splashed in the pancake batter. If you’re new to Japanese sweets, dorayaki is definitely where you want to begin! Further your experience of dorayaki with Juroku Cha! The light and subtle flavors of Juroku Cha is perfect in balancing the sweet and dense bites of the red bean paste pancake combination.

Japanese red bean paste sweets  - Daifuku


Daifuku, literal translates to “good luck” is a mochi (Japanese rice cake) based snack stuffed with a sweet filling. The fillings can range from red bean paste and strawberries, to whole adzuki beans, and sometimes even ice cream. Daifuku usually only contain a thin layer of red bean paste without getting too adzuki-heavy, so they’re the perfect Japanese dessert for the red bean paste newbie! The “good luck” treat’s chewy outer layer and creamy sweet filling are further enhanced when paired with a crisp and mild tea like Juroku Cha, so you’ll want to keep a bottle on hand. With so many different varieties of daifuku to try, the flavor and texture combinations with Juroku Cha are endless.

Japanese red bean paste sweets  - Yokan


Yokan has been proven to be an absolute delight for the die-hard red bean paste connoisseur. This confection is traditionally made with red bean paste, sugar, and agar combined and molded into a rectangular-shaped jelly. In all its simplicity, Yokan tastes, looks, and feels sophisticated, and many famous confectionaries in Tokyo are specialized in providing delicious yokan for several decades. Savor the sweet and smooth Yokan in between sips of Juroku Cha for an authentic Japanese experience.

Interested in exploring the world of Japanese sweets with Juroku Cha by your side? Snag your bottle today on Amazon.