Some teas are hard to describe. Genmaicha, a unique green tea blend, is definitely one of them. It’s delicious, it’s toasty, it’s refreshing, and very easy to brew. It’s one of those teas every tea lover should try at least once in life. If you like the toasty & nutty flavor, it will easily become your must-drink-every-day tea.
What is Genmaicha?
The history of genmaicha isn’t very long. Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea made with green tea leaves and roasted rice. It was invented about 100 years ago in an attempt to make real tea accessible to the wider population. Firstly, it was always blended with cheaper bancha green tea and roasted rice. Today, many types of low and high grade tea can be used for making genmaicha. The most common green teas used for making genmaicha are bancha or sencha, but other types such as gyokuro high quality tea and even roasted tea can be used too.
The word genmaicha means “brown rice tea,” but genmaicha doesn’t need to be made with brown rice only. Furthermore, it can sometimes contain puffed rice too, and other ingredients such as matcha tea powder or black soy bean. Other name for genmaicha is popcorn tea. Although it may contain “popcorn” rice grains that pop during roasting, it will never contain real popcorn made of corn.
Genmaicha has a very different flavor from other green teas. It has a vegetal green freshness, and light nutty flavor of toasty rice. It’s incredibly well-balanced and has less bitterness than other green teas. Genmaicha can be served hot or cold, and either way it will always taste refreshing.
How to Brew
To make a cup of genmaicha, you will need a teapot, strainer or a tea filter and a teacup. Avoid paper filters or filters that leave a metal flavor. They may significantly influence the flavor of this tea. The best teacup for enjoying genmaicha will be around 100-200 ml. If possible, brew it using Japanese kyusu or a smaller glass teapot.
Always use fresh spring water. Bring water to a boil and let it cool down for a few minutes to around 185°F. You can brew bancha genmaicha with even a bit hotter water, and Sencha Genmaicha and Gyokuro genmaicha with a slightly cooler water.
Use about 5 grams of tea per 150-200 ml of water. Pour boiling water in and out of the teapot to preheat it. Add genmaicha loose leaf tea. Steep for 60-90 seconds and pour the tea into a cup. Re-steep 2-3 time. Use hotter water and shorter steeping time for the second infusion (for example194 °F and 30 seconds steep) and longer steeping time and hotter water for the third infusion (for example, 6-120 seconds at 203°F). This is a common way of brewing Japanese sencha too.
Brewing genmaicha is much easier than brewing many other green teas, and a great choice if you are a tea beginner. Usually, it won’t have any or very little bitterness. The flavor of brewed tea won’t change significantly even when it cools down or if you brew it incorrectly.
Does Genmaicha have caffeine?
Genmaicha is made with real tea, so it will always contain caffeine. However, caffeine content will usually be lower than in other green teas. The ratio of toasted rice to green tea leaves can vary, and the caffeine content will depend on that ratio as well. The more brown rice it contains, the less caffeine it will provide. That’s because you will be using the same amount to make a cup of tea, regardless of the rice to leaf ration. Sometimes, this ratio can be half-half, so you could expect half the caffeine content that in a cup of pure bancha.
If you want to reduce the caffeine content, choose genmaicha blended with bancha tea. Bancha is made with older, more mature tea leaves that naturally contain less caffeine than younger leaves and buds. Genmaicha that will usually contain the highest level of caffeine will be made of sencha or gyokuro tea and enhanced with matcha green tea powder. Furthermore, reduce the amount of tea you are using and steep it with lower water temperatures.
Best Genmaicha Teas to Try
There are several types of genmaicha, and each producer can decide which type of tea leaves to use and how to blend them. Genmaicha is usually available as loose leaf tea, but can be found in tea bags too. The main types or genmaicha loose leaf teas are:
- Bancha Genmaicha – a blend made with bancha tea leaves and roasted brown rice
- Sencha Genmaicha – a blend made with sencha green tea and roasted brown rice
- Matcha iri genmaicha – usually made with sencha or bancha green tea, roasted brown rice and matcha tea powder
- Gyokuro Genmaicha – a blend made with gyokuro green tea and roasted brown rice