Genmaicha is a blend of green tea and roasted brown rice with a sweet, toasted rice flavor. The hue is a light yellow with a mild, smooth taste and rounded body.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the tea leaves themselves that separate good Genmaicha from great Genmaicha (although better tea leaves are certainly a luxury no one would deny). It’s actually the genmai itself…the toasted brown rice (these days often white rice since its cheaper) provides the flavorful nuttiness that will drive you crazy.
Other Names in English
Brown Rice Tea
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…
Real(?) Origins of Genmaicha
Like Houjicha, 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…