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What is Genmaicha?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Genmaicha is a type of tea which is very popular in Japan, made by combining Sencha green tea with toasted rice. Because the rice sometimes puffs into popcorn like shapes, Genmaicha is sometimes known as popcorn tea. In some areas, this Japanese tea is served with Macha, a type of powdered green tea, to enhance the green tea flavor. The slightly grassy, slightly nutty flavor of Genmaicha has long been popular in Japan, and consumers from other nations enjoy this toasted rice tea as well.

In Japanese, “Genmaicha” literally means brown rice tea, as “cha” means tea and “genmai” refers to dark, unhulled rice. Roasted brown rice has a more rich, nutty flavor than hulled grains. Sencha tea is more strongly flavored than some other types of green tea, picked in the spring and steamed immediately after picking and then dried in hot air before being pan roasted. The leaves of Sencha are tightly furled, and have a slightly bittersweet flavor which pairs well with toasted rice.

A legend about Genmaicha says that the tea was invented by accident when the servant of a samurai dropped rice into his master's tea. Infuriated by the contamination, the samurai killed the servant but drank the tea anyway, and was delighted by the unusual flavor. The tea probably has its origins in frugal Japanese housewives, who may have added toasted rice to their tea supplies to stretch them, as rice is much cheaper than green tea.

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Like other green teas, Genmaicha will be damaged if it is prepared with boiling water. The tea should be steeped at temperatures between 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit (82-88 degrees Celsius) for three to five minutes. A lower brewing temperature will yield a more rice like flavor, while the higher temperature brings out more green tea notes. As the tea steeps, it will start to turn a rich amber color and will fill the air with the fresh leafy smell of green tea, combined with earthier undertones from the brown rice. Approximately two grams of Genmaicha should be used for every eight ounce cup.

Genmaicha has a slightly sweet and palate cleansing taste. For this reason, the tea is often served between courses or after meals. While Gemaicha was originally only popular in rural Japan, the tea captured the imagination of city dwellers as well and can be found on the menu of most tea gardens and restaurants. Genmaicha can also be found in looseleaf form at many tea shops and grocery stores.

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myharley
Post 3

If you like green tea and like trying new kinds of tea, you might be interested in Matcha which is a stone ground Japanese green tea.

High quality matcha tea can be a little bit expensive, but because it has a lot of amino acids in it, there can be significant health benefits from it.

It has a very strong, distinct taste that many people do not care for right away. If it is blended in with other foods, the taste is much more subtle. I didn't care for the taste very much the first time I tried it, but the friend that was with me absolutely loved it.

Mykol
Post 2

I was never a tea drinker because I just didn't like the taste or smell of it. This is until a couple of my friends introduced me to some high quality loose leaf tea.

There are still many kinds that I do not care for, but have found that some of them are very delicious. I have found two kinds of tea that I especially like and those are chocolate mint and jasmine tea.

While they are not very exotic teas, the tea shop I buy them at has very high quality and they taste wonderful - especially on a cool fall evening.

bagley79
Post 1

I love trying new flavors of looseleaf tea. I stop by my favorite tea shop at least once a month to sample few flavors I have not tried before.

It seems like I usually end of buying a new herbal tea, but when I read about the combination of this green tea and toasted brown rice, I was intrigued enough to try it. Since I like both of those things, I thought the combination would be very interesting in a hot tea.

After smelling the tea I decided to go ahead a buy a few ounces of it. It has become one of my favorites, mostly because of the slightly sweet flavor. I love a cup of this tea after a meal and it satisfies my sweet tooth without giving me the extra calories.

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