Japanese Tea Part 4: Uji Genmaicha

Japanese Tea Part 4: Uji Genmaicha

Genmaicha Overview

Genmaicha tea is also known as ‘rice’ or ‘popcorn’ tea and literally translates to mean ‘brown rice tea’.  This tea is made up of green tea, roasted rice, and often has Matcha as well. Brown rice is first toasted and then combined with the green tea leaves to make Genmaicha. During the toasting process, some of the rice kernels pop making them look like popcorn, as their nickname suggests. Known for its unique flavor which is nutty and sweet, Genmaicha can be found in both a yellowish color and green color, which is effected by the addition of matcha to the blend.

Myths and Stories of Genmaicha’s History

 While the true history of Genmaicha is unknown, there are many stories that claim to be the true origins. The first story states that Genmaicha can be traced back to the 15th century. A feudal lord or samurai was enjoying his favorite green tea one day. His servant, pouring him his tea accidentally spilled rice into his cup. Angry and offended the man beheaded his servant. Following his reaction, he tasted the tea with the rice and found the flavor to be very good. Feeling remorse for his impulsive action, the man requested this tea everyday afterwards to honor the servant and named the tea Genmaicha after his servant, Genmai. A second origin claims that as tea was considered a luxury, not everyone could afford to have a cup daily. To make the tea last longer, housewives added toasted rice to the leaves to make the supply last longer and make it more affordable. A third explanation claims that a folk custom of roasting leftover kagami-mochi, or mirror rice cake, from the New Year celebrations and putting it into tea. Whichever the true story, today Genmaicha comes in different ways always including the signature brown rice.

Short and Stout carries Uji Genmaicha in the lounge and online. It is a great tea that when looking for something unique and different is worth giving a try!