If amazake means ‘sweet sake’, how can it be non-alcoholic?
It’s made by fermenting a mixture of steamed rice, rice koji (the Aspergillus oryzae fungus that’s also used in the making of miso and soy sauce) and water – just like sake. This process turns the starch into glucose and it stops there. Sake, on the other hand, has an additional ingredient: yeast, which further converts the sugar into alcohol.
Sometimes, amazake is made by mixing sake lees with hot water. This shortcut results in trace levels of booze. Best look for the non-alcoholic version as it’s higher in nutrients.