Genmaicha is a type of Japanese tea blended with roasted and popped brown rice (“genmai” means brown rice). Before being added to Japanese tea, the brown rice is steamed and roasted. The form of the roasted brown rice looks like that of popcorn, just smaller in size. The Japanese tea usually used for genmaicha is bancha, but in some cases, higher grade Japanese teas such as sencha and gyokuro are also used. Thanks to the added popped brown rice, genmaicha has the fragrance of rice crackers as well as the distinctive aroma of the typical Japanese tea.
Compared to traditional Japanese teas, genmaicha’s history is not so long. It was started in 1930s by a tea seller in Kyoto. In Japan, people make special round rice cakes for New Year and display them as a gift to God for a certain period. When the period is over, the rice cakes are cut into pieces, cooked and eaten. Back in 1930s, the tea seller tried to use the rice cakes for Japanese tea by cutting them into small pieces, roasting them and adding them to Japanese tea. They found that the blend was so delicious, that they started selling it. This is the beginning of genmaicha. As its history says, genmaicha is a modern type of tea created by adding another ingredient (roasted brown rice). For this reason, it may be said that genmaicha belongs to the category of fashionable fragrant teas made in recent years such as herbal teas.
Genmaicha tastes light and refreshing as it is usually blended with bancha. This means that genmaicha is less expensive and contains less caffeine than the standard Japanese tea. In other words, genmaicha is more economical and at the same time, more suitable for children and elderly people. Genmaicha is, in fact, good for your health, as the brown rice in genmaicha contains the natural element called Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA). This element reduces your blood pressure and triglyceride, and helps make you relax. Because of this reason as well as the fact the tea has less caffeine, genmaicha is effective when you feel stressed and want to relax.
To make nice genmaicha, use hot water of which temperature is higher than 95℃. You can pour the hot water directly into the tea pot. Leave it for 30 to 50 seconds, and then the tea will be ready.