Gennmaicha, or brown rice tea, is also known as people’s tea in Japan. Since it is made from a combination of green tea and brown rice, genmaicha is the perfect way to conserve resources. In Japan, brown rice tea used to be made by people who couldn’t afford plain green tea. They added the brown rice as filler. Today, people of all cultures and social economic backgrounds drink it, assuming they have heard of this unusual tea.
Brown rice tea is reminiscent of preparing popcorn, as the rice makes popping sounds when it is prepared; however, it does not taste like popcorn. The flavor is a slightly grassy variation of green tea with a hint of a nutty, roasted rice flavor. It can be served cold or hot.
The color of this tea is yellow and can be altered depending on the amount of time you choose to brew it. While some people prefer to steep it from three to five minutes, other people prefer a more subtle taste and brew it for just one minute. To prepare the brown rice, toast a thin layer of it in a small-to-medium-sized pan over a low heat. Don’t turn off the burner until the rice is brown. This particular step should not take longer than five minutes. Then allow the rice to cool.
Once the rice has cooled, store it in a container until you are ready to make the rest of the tea. Place a tablespoon of whole green tea leaves in a sieve along with a tablespoon of toasted brown rice. You can adjust the amount, depending on how strong you would like the tea to be. Heat water in a pot until it boils, placing the sieve into the pot when it is ready. Steep from one to five minutes. Then you are ready!
This article was originally posted to T Ching in January 2012.