Genmaicha is a mixture of green tea and roasted brown rice. As some of the rice kernels pop during roasting to resemble popcorn, this tea is also referred to as “popcorn tea.” It combines the aroma of roasted rice with the fresh grassy flavor of green tea, resulting in a mild tasting tea that has a light yellow hue.
Where to buy
You can buy genmaicha in any specialty tea shop or through a number of online vendors. If you are unsure where to begin, you can check out some of my recommendations below.
How to Prepare Genmaicha
The preparation instructions given here are for loose leaf teas. For tea bags, you can generally just follow the instructions given on the box.
Genmaicha, like most green teas, should be steeped in cooler water than black or oolong teas. A temperature of 80–85°C (176–185°F) is a good starting point. For these instructions, I’m going to give the traditional Japanese preparation method which assumes you are using a simple stove-top kettle.
Heating water to the desired temperature becomes much simpler if you use a water boiler/warmer or an electric kettle with a variable temperature setting. Personally, I recommend this Cuisinart kettle, because it has presets for every type of tea, so you always get the perfect temperature:
I like brewing Japanese teas in a traditional kyusu
or a cast iron tetsubin,
but any teapot will work fine, to be honest.
- Pour enough boiling water into the empty teapot to fill everyone’s cup. The teapot should NOT contain any teas leaves at this point.
- Fill each cup with the water from the teapot. This will cool the water from boiling to the desired temperature of 80–85°C (176–185°F).
- Put about one large teaspoon of tea leaves into the empty teapot for each cup of tea. The teapot I am using comes with an infuser, but if yours doesn’t, you can put the leaves directly in the pot.
- Pour the water in the teacups back into the teapot.
- Let the tea steep for two minutes.
- Pour a small amount of tea into the first cup, then pour the same amount into every other cup. Continue filling the cups a little at a time, making sure that each cup contains the same amount of the weaker first pours and the stronger last drops. DO NOT fill one cup completely and then move on to the next cup.
- Continue pouring until the teapot is completely empty. You want the leaves to be as dry as possible to ensure a quality second infusion
- Depending on the quality of your tea, genmaicha is usually good for 2 or 3 infusions. If you are going for three, you will want to use a short steeping time for the second one. Pour boiling water from your kettle into the cups and wait about 30 seconds. This will ensure a higher water temperature than you used for the first infusion.
- Pour the water from the cups into the teapot and steep for one minute. Pour the tea into the cups, alternating as before.
- For the third infusion, you can pour the water directly into the teapot and steep for three minutes.
- If you decide to only do two infusions instead of three, increase the steeping time of the second to three minutes.
Use the amounts given in these instructions as a rough guide. If you find the resulting tea too weak, add more tea leaves; if it is too strong, reduce the amount of leaves used. Similarly, try increasing or decreasing the steeping times.
Many people already have an account with Amazon.com, so it is probably the easiest place to buy tea online. The best purchase on Amazon is the genmaicha from SA Japanese Green Tea. For a great deal, try this value pack from Hime.
The Kyoto tea from Art of Tea is an interesting take on the classic genmaicha, with matcha added in to the mix. It blends high-quality gyokuro green tea, ceremonial matcha and roasty puffed rice, for an incredibly high quality tea that goes far beyond any standard genmaicha. Naturally, it costs a bit more, too.