Genmaicha is a blend of green tea and toasted rice (which looks brown) that produces a sweet, nutty flavor. The hue is a light yellow with a mild, smooth taste and rounded body.
Other Names in English
- Brown Rice Tea
- Popcorn Tea
The Origins of Genmaicha
Like Hojicha, Genmaicha probably had its origins as a way to extended the life of tea that had gotten old. The story that is told in Japan is that it comes from a folk custom of roasting leftover kagami-mochi, a kind of rice cake that is eaten during the New Year holidays, and putting the roasted mochi into tea.
Prior to refrigeration, the shelf life of tea leaves did not keep as long. The leaves would lose its flavor after a year, and placing yummy tasting toasted mochi into the tea is one way to combine and enhance both flavors. And as we all know, mochi is made from rice…
Strange legend going around in English
There is a story going around in the English language (including on actual products!!) about the origins of genmaicha. As someone familiar with Japanese culture and language, it’s fairly obvious that it was written by someone who doesn’t know Japanese. Here’s how it goes:
A feudal lord was sitting around drinking tea one day when his servant accidently spills rice into his tea. Offended, the feudal lord immediately cut off the guy’s head. However, he tastes the tea and discovers that it actually tastes quite good. In honor of the servant, whose name was Genmai, the tea was named Genmaicha.
Worth a good laugh for someone out there…