- Region: Kyoto&Kagoshima
- Cultivar: Yabukita Blend
- Dry Tea Leaves: Blend of short green tea leaves and brown rice
- Liquor: Light green
- Price: $6.80 for 50gr
Genmaicha literally means brown-rice tea and produces very strong toasty aroma. It is a very unique Japanese green tea which is produced by combining either bancha or sencha tea leaves with roasted brown rice. I personally prefer the ones that are produced using sencha tea leaves. Previously I’ve reviewed a great genmaicha green tea from Obubu Tea Farm which is made with sencha tea leaves.
This week’s tea is from Yunomi Tea. It’s an organic tea and produced by blending tea leaves from Kyoto and Kagoshima. I brewed it as it’s instructed at Yunomi steeping guide. I used 5 grams of tea leaves, 180ml water and infused it at about 85 Celcius degrees. I did three steppings in total. I went for exactly 30 seconds for the first infusion which produced light green liquor. Aroma of roasted rice was the first thing that hit me even before I took my first sip. Although I brewed it at about 85 Celsius degrees there was no astringency at all. It’s relatively sweet alongside with the toastiness of brown rice in the background. Normally I’m not a fan of rice tea since most of the time rice dominates tea and all you get is the aroma and flavor of rice. Yet not in this one! This Genmaicha by Yunomi Tea is perfectly balanced. For the second infusion I went for just ten seconds. I think this was a mistake on my side because it produced a watery cup. I should have gone for a longer infusion which would have resulted in a stronger cup. I brewed it 30 seconds again for the third and last infusion. Even though it was not as strong as the first one it’s definitely suited my taste more than second infusion.
Of all three infusions I like the first one most. It was well balanced between roasted brown rice and tea leaves. It’s richer and more complex brew compared to first two infusions. Yet you can easily go for fourth even fifth infusion if you don’t mind more watery taste. Overall this Genmaicha from Yunomi Tea is one of the great examples of this unique Japanese green tea.
Dry Tea Leaves: Mix of roasted brown rice and bancha tea leaves
Aroma: Nutty alongside with roasted rice
Flavor: Very dominant buttery flavor with little bit of saltiness
Region: Kyoto, Japan
Brewing: 5 gr tea brewed four times at 90° for 20-25 seconds
Liquor: Between yellow and green. Crystal clear
According to the legend that goes back to 15th century; a samurai who was planning an attack on enemy ordered his servant, named Genmai, a cup of tea. While preparing tea Genmai accidentally dropped a few grains of rice into tea bowl which made the Samurai very angry and as a result servant lost his head. However when the Samurai took his first sip of the tea prepared by Genmai, he was filled with remorse and named the tea ‘Genmaicha‘ to honor his servant.
There are probably more practical reasons on the origin of Genmaicha yet it’s kinda heart-warming to hear this sort of stories now and then. Genmaicha (aka Popcorn tea) today is one of the most popular teas of Japan. Personally I haven’t been much of a fan of this tea since the blend of rice and tea felt like an awkward combination to me. If you’re well into tea world you know that there is this group of teas you could name ‘love it or hate it’ teas. Lapsang Souchong or Smoked Tea is one of these teas and I love it. Genmaicha is another tea you can put in this ‘love it or hate it’ category and you can guess which side of the scale I am inclined. However I know there are great admirers of this tea out there and I respect them. I believe Genmaicha has a character and very unique tea just like Lapsang Souchong. Furthermore some teas are like great novels you’ve got to put some effort into it and show some patience in order to cherish it.
This week’s tea coming from Obubu Tea Farm in Kyoto, Japan. Previously I reviewed their Kabuse Sencha green tea. I bought a lot of samples from them and it’s kinda hard to choose this week’s tea. For some reason I went for their Genmaicha tea. As soon as you get the hold of tea leaves you can easily understand the freshness of it. Both bancha tea leaves and brown rice have very vibrant colors .It’s full of roasted brown rice which surface up as soon as you pour water into teapot. Bancha tea leaves that are used in this tea are quite fresh as well. The sweetness of this tea comes from roasted brown rice which is combined with somewhat astringency of bancha tea leaves. As a result they made a very special tea to drink even for those who’re not into Genmaicha tea.
If you’re already fan of Genmaicha tea then I highly recommend this tea. If you’re somewhat aloof and want to give it a shot then again Obubu’s Genmaicha is among the right options.
Kabuse Sencha or shaded tea is Obubu‘s most premium green tea. Even though Gyokuro tea is known as shaded tea of Japan; there are some senchas such as this one shading technic is applied. It’s sort of a middle way between Sencha and Gyokuro. The main reason for shading tea and therefore reducing sunlight on tea leaves is to create amino acid and chlorophyll-rich tea leaves in order to get a more complex and rich tea. Obubu’s Kabuse Sencha was covered for two weeks prior to harvesting. It’s all made from %100 aracha from Wazuka, Kyoto.
Dry tea leaves are mostly dark green and have a needle-like sharpness with somewhat broken leaves. As usual for Japanese green teas it smells grassy. I used 5 grams of tea, 80 ml of water at 70 degrees for about 1.5 minutes for the first infusion as it’s instructed at Obubu’s tea brewing brochure. The liquor was very light green and you get grassiness from the liquor easily. It’s a very sweet tea with a little bit astringency. I’m quite a fan of having both sweet and bitter notes in tea. Yet sweetness in this tea is quite different from the sweetness of other teas such as sweetness of Ali Shan Oolong. This tea is distinguished with its ‘umami’ flavor which means ‘tasty’ in Japanese according to the description at Obubu’s Tea Brochure. It’s also a persistent tea with a very creamy texture.