I should start out by saying that the Rishi Tea Genmaicha I have is very old and probably stale. Sometime in 2004, a friend gave this to me as a gift after overhearing me rave about how much I like genmaicha. It was a wonderful, delicious gift, and I managed to use up about half of it before I had to move. Eight moves and later, I finally unpacked it and have been drinking it again.
Even when stale, this tea is amazing. It’s the only genmaicha I’ve seen where some of the rice has been popped. (You can see what look like miniature pieces of popcorn in the blend.) The scent out of the bag is grassy and nutty. The first few seconds of brewing it bring out an intensely nutty scent (yes, like sesame or peanut). After that, the toasted rice and green tea even out, and you’re left with an intensely flavorful and balanced cup of genmaicha.
I’m especially happy with this tea because it is so forgiving of brewing mistakes or bad brewing practice. If I accidentally over-steep this tea, which sometimes happens, it develops the taste similar to green tea blended with mugicha (roasted barley tea). It’s also pretty forgiving of steeping with water that’s too hot.