A different sort of Japanese tea that many find intriguing. While the green leaves are being dried, rice kernels are added. The kernels get crispy and some burst open. The genmaicha has a unique appearance and a pleasant roasted flavor. GenMaiCha is a creative use of Bancha tea and an eloquent unification of the two crops central to Japanese culture: tea and rice. The light-bodied roasted tea is a blend of genmai, or unpolished brown rice, and cha, or Bancha tea. For centuries, the two commodities have been staples of the Japanese diet. In the 1920s, a clever Kyoto tea merchant combined the two to make this blend. Once considered a cheap peasant beverage, Genmaicha has recently come into vogue among Japanese urban elite and in the United States as a health drink.
The tea comes in many grades and styles, but always consists of Bancha and roasted rice. The roasted flavors of the two components complement each other: the lemony Bancha helps sweeten the rice, and the nutty rice helps mellow out the often grassy tea.