While drinking too much sake will leave you feeling ill, amazake is revered for its grab bag of health benefits, such as better digestion, increased energy and stress reduction.
This 'super drink' purportedly contains qualities that people seek in drinks like kombucha. But because of its short shelf life, it's rarely exported. So, most people outside Japan haven’t even heard of it, let alone consumed it.
Crafted by sake breweries, koji amazake contains only three ingredients: cooked rice, koji (a mold used in other Japanese fermented foods such as soy sauce and miso) and water.
In the regular sake brewing process, rice is fermented with koji, then the mixture is combined with yeast and steamed rice to start alcoholic fermentation. Amazake only goes through the first fermentation.
The result is a thick, rather sweet beverage, akin to a luscious coconut milk. It can be served hot or cold, pureed for a richer texture, or thinned out with additional water.
Japanese women consume amazake as part of their beauty regimen – complex B vitamins and amino acids nourish hair and nails, and its antioxidant properties contribute to smoother skin.
For the dairy-averse, amazake provides many of the same probiotic benefits as yogurt, and reportedly contributes to overall better digestive health.
Glucose, a source of energy, is a key compound in the beverage; athletes regularly quaff the drink pre- and post- workout. And its vitamin B5 reduces stress (and some claim it aids in weight loss).
Amazake’s other nickname is "drinkable IV drip fluid," and after a long night drinking sake at an izakaya, amazake may be the best hangover cure out there.