The great nutty flavor you expect from Genmaicha combined with a dusting of matcha adding to the complexity and producing a slightly darker liquor color.
Genmaicha, also known as Gen Mai Cha or Brown Rice Tea features roasted rice, some of which pops during the roasting process with the appearance of popcorn. This tea is widely consumed in Japan, having been developed with rice as a filler to cut the volume of tea which kept the price down and affordable to all. Matcha infused Genmaicha is one of many great Japanese tea varieties.
Japanese Green Tea
Matcha is actually a powder produced by milling green tea leaves. Matcha production dates back as far as CE 600 when tea was transported in brick form. Traditionally used for Chado, or the Japanese Tea Ceremony, matcha is now used widely for bottled drinks, home cooking, and by many restaurants. It is generally produced from gyokuro leaves, which have been hand-picked, and features a distinctive bright green appearance. There are many grades of matcha depending on the base tea used in production, and cooking grades tend to impart a stronger flavor, thus using ceremonial grades in cooking is not necessarily better. A more recent use for matcha is found in matcha infused sencha and matcha infused genmaicha which build a layer of complexity and flavor on these two well-known Japanese teas. Making matcha on its own involves vigorous whisking of the matcha in a bowl until frothy and then adding water if necessary to taste.
A uniquely Japanese tea is genmaicha (also known as Gen Mai Cha or Popcorn Tea). This tea is produced by blending Genmai, or brown rice, with green tea (cha). The result is a delicious nutty taste. Genmaicha can be produced using a base of sencha, bancha, or other Japanese green tea although it is traditionally produced with a bancha base. The addition of brown rice to bancha green tea tended to lower the cost making it a commonly consumed tea in Japan.
There are several fun stories surrounding genmaicha although they are mainly fiction. The most colorful story suggests this tea was created during the 15th century by a Samurai and his servant. The story suggests that the servant was preparing tea for his master, and at the time tea was very expensive. As he poured the tea a few grains of rice fell from his sleeve as he poured the tea. So enraged was the Samurai that his tea would be ruined, that he drew his sword and cut the head off his servant then an there. Yet, instead of pouring out the tea, he sat back down to drink it and discovered that he actually very much enjoyed it. In honor of his servant, named Genmai, he named this tea Genmai Cha.
Another story suggests that long ago, housewives, eager to serve green tea in their households, yet finding it to be extremely expensive, began mixing cheap brown rice to a smaller amount of green tea, thus enabling common folk to enjoy tea the same as the noble classes.
The most likely story of genmaicha seems to be that sometime in the early 1900′s, an inspired tea merchant in Japan sought to stretch expensive green tea a bit further and added brown rice to it. The wonderful nutty flavor of genmaicha has been with us ever since, remaining popular and growing in popularity outside of Japan as well.