Like nibbling on sweet, roasted popcorn. Or potatoes & seaweed.
Green tea » Japanese » Sun-grown, ★★★
Also known as: 干米茶
Think lightly-buttered popcorn mixed with grass and hazelnuts. Genmaicha is a Japanese Sencha mixed with toasted rice pieces which add an earthy, slightly vegetal taste to the tea—they taste rather like a buckwheat infusion I tasted in Sichuan. The Sencha base is smooth and balances the rice very well.
The rice floats but the tea sinks. If you brew this directly in a mug (or bowl, as I did), you’ll end up chewing on too many toasted pieces of rice: they arrive in your mouth before the tea does. Instead, I suggest brewing the tea gongfu style and nibbling on the rice when you’re finished drinking, once it’s soft.
Genmaicha is a fun tea. I love breathing over the bowl and inhaling Genmaicha‘s nutty cinema-foyer aroma. The popped rice brings earthiness and a hint of sweetness, and the Sencha brings a smooth, steamed (read ‘kelpy’) taste to balance it. Despite being one of Japan’s cheapest teas, it’s certainly one of the most popular Japanese teas among non-Japanese. ★★★