Tea 101
What Is Genmaicha Tea? – Origins, Flavor, & More

What Is Genmaicha Tea? – Origins, Flavor, & More

Tea is fascinating because of its vast array of flavors & complexity. A simple green tea can be made into so much more & merely uttering the words “green tea” can mean so much more than maybe you know.

What do I mean by this? Well green tea is more than just green tea. It can be a Japanese green or Chinese green & going even further it can be sencha, bancha, gunpowder, or genmaicha.

So…what is genmaicha tea? What does it taste like? What are some cool properties to it? How can I incorporate it into my life? Let’s dive into the world of genmaicha tea & answer all these questions & more!

Origins

To put it simply, genmaicha is green tea (bancha to be specific) mixed with roasted brown rice. That may sound bizarre, so how did this come to be? Well, everyone loves a good origin story. Unfortunately like most tea, there is no clear story for the glorious genmaicha, but here are a few of them!

A few rice pieces popped, looks like popcorn!

The first one is a bit gruesome, but an interesting story nonetheless! In the early 15th century a servant was serving his master, a Samurai. While the man was pouring the tea for the Samurai a few grains of rice left over on the servants sleeve fell into the green tea. Outraged at the mistake, the Samurai swiftly cut the mans head off with his sword. He sat down & tried his cup of tea regardless & realized it was actually quite pleasant (instant regret). He then chose to name the tea after his servant who’s name was Genmai. Cha is another name for tea thus creating genmaicha!

Another story (more likely to be true & less violent) states that in order to make the tea last longer, housewives would add brown rice to the green tea. This would increase the amount tea they would have thus reducing how many times they had to purchase expensive green tea. This enabled more “common folk” to enjoy the tea!

Finally there is a simple story of a Japanese tea merchant looking to expand his tea & push it further on the market. Similar to last story he did so by adding roasted brown rice thus allowing him to cut costs & provide a new, delicious, & innovative product!

However genmaicha came to be, it is a unique & delicious tea. “Genmai” literally translates to brown rice & “cha” translates to tea so the name literally means “brown rice tea“!

Health Benefits

Genmaicha tea is a green tea. So many of the metabolism boosting & polyphenol effects are in play when consuming this tea! But there are some specific health benefits to genmaicha over other green teas.

  • Can balance blood sugar: The fact that genmaicha contains brown rice gives it a unique flavor that satiates cravings. When you get the spike or crash from blood sugar, try genmaicha. It will soothe cravings & carry you throughout the day. (2)
  • Regulate thyroid function: An interesting aspect of incorporating brown rice is that it adds additional minerals such as selenium. For healthy function of the thyroid gland, selenium is needed. So why not get it in your tea! (2, 4)
  • Aids with asthma struggles: Another thanks to selenium! A study done by the University of Maryland Medical Center showed that those with asthma taking selenium had better control of their asthma then those on a placebo. (2, 3)
  • Contains low amounts of caffeine: There is maybe a 1/4 the amount of caffeine in a cup of genmaicha vs coffee. This allows a small boost of energy for focus, but nothing overwhelming. Also, this tea contains GABA, a known relaxer for the mind & body. So do not worry about enjoying this in the afternoon!

Flavor

The most unique aspect of genmaicha is its flavor. The two main ingredients are bancha green tea & roasted brown rice. Bancha tastes very vegetal & almost seaweedy. Doesn’t make it sound too appealing, but it is very mild & delicious. Now pair this with roasted brown rice & the flavor explodes!

The combination of the two ingredients lead this tea to have an overall nutty, roasted, & wholesome. Many call this tea the gateway tea to Japanese green teas because it is as soothing & calming for the soul as a warm cup of chicken noodle soup.

This tea is arguably one of the best when paired with a delicious meal, so let’s look at what foods exactly!

Best Paired With

With such a bold & powerful flavor, what does genmaicha tea pair well with? If you have ever had green tea at a sushi restaurant there is a very good chance that was genmaicha! Do to the wholesome & down to earth flavors of the tea, pairing it with sushi that is fresh, light, & refreshing is an amazing balance!

Specifically, the roasted brown rice does very well with fatty fish like salmon & tuna. Sticking to that theme, fatty meals heavy with cheese or oil would pair well. The bancha’s astringency will help cut the viscosity of the fat in the mouth. This allows for an overall superb meal.

This makes me sooo hungry!

Genmaicha & Me

Genmaicha…brown rice tea or “popcorn tea”, this amazing & unique Japanese green tea is a wonderful addition to the daily routine. When I first had genmaicha I was caught off guard & very unsure about it. It is unlike any green tea I ever had. Now I have grown to appreciate & love its extremely unique flavor profile & very much sipping on it with meals.

It is a tea that has a very colorful history (that may even be violent) & yet is so peaceful to enjoy! It contains many health benefits from lowering blood sugar to boosting thyroid function & more.

Want to try this nutty, bold, & wholesome tea for yourself? Give Buddha Teas Genmaicha a try here! This is a perfect tea to start your tea journey with. Enjoy this fine cup of tea & be sure to let us know what you think!

References:

1. Genmaicha History

2. Genmaicha Health Benefits

3. Selenium & Asthma

4. Selenium & Thyroid Function

5. Genmaicha Pairings

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