Genmaicha: A Mark of Japanese Style

Have you ever been to Japanese restaurants? If yes, then maybe you are not unfamiliar with genmaicha—the tea I would like to share with you today—that waiters always serve you before meals. Together with sushi, tempura and other Japanese food sold in the restaurant overseas, genmaicha has become one of the most widely recognized styles outside of Japan. What is genmaicha? What benefits will the tea bring to us and how to enjoy it? Here is a guide to genmaicha for curious tea drinkers.

What is Genmaicha?

Genmaicha, literally meaning brown rice tea, is a tea consisting of Japanese green tea mixed with roasted popped brown rice. The lore goes that in ancient times when tea was very expensive and only reserved for the wealth, genmaicha was an effort to make tea accessible to every part of the society by tea producers who blended the roasted brown rice with tea leaves and lowered the price of the tea. Today tea is no longer a luxury, but genmaicha continues to be drunk by Japanese of all classes and favored by foreigners for its unique taste. It has a mild flavor combining the fresh grassiness of Japanese green tea (typically bancha or sencha) and the nutty aroma caused by the sugar and starch from the roasted rice—believe it or not, it would become a tea you can’t help enjoying every day at home once you have tasted it!

What benefits can I gain from the tea?

As a green tea, genmaicha contains a high level of polyphenols, a unique array of antioxidants which help keep your heart strong and decrease the risk of many types of cancer (including breast, bladder, lung cancers, etc.). It is also conducive to skin as it reduces wrinkles and keeps the skin hydrated, thus a wonderful choice to retain your beauty and youth.

The most outstanding feature distinguishing it from other teas, however, is its excellent effects on weight loss. The green tea itself can accelerate the fat-burning process, and the sugar and starch contained in genmaicha help keep one feeling full for longer with its warm, nutty flavor, thus making it the best beverage for dieters. Find it hard to control your desire for food during weight losing? A cup of genmaicha will satisfy your empty stomach and keep you from alluring snacks during the intervals between meals!

How do I enjoy genmaicha at home?

Genmaicha is a tea easy to make: just add roughly 5 grams of genmaicha tea leaves to the teapot and steep them with water at around 85℃ for 1 minute, then you can enjoy its pleasant flavor. Or you can do a little more work: add some matcha powder to your genmaicha (referred to as genmaimatcha) which develops a depth of color and more sweetness. But there are many other ways to consume it; for example, to make a bowl of chazuke.

Chazuke is a classic Japanese dish which is basically made by pouring hot green tea over cook rice with toppings. Common toppings with distinctive Japanese style include Japanese pickles, sesame seeds, salted plums, salted salmon, nori (seaweed), scallions and wasabi, and genmaicha is the tea most frequently used. You can always see the scene in Japanese drama that a person in a bind, a student short on time or a man returning home late or whatever, rummage out these ingredients from his cupboard, put them into a bowl and poured in some genmaicha—then a delicious bowl of chazuke is ready. It provides a good way to use leftover rice as a quick snack and to serve yourself with an easy-to-make meal while you’re in a hurry. You can just buy the ingredients above and relish authentic Japanese flavor; Or if you are a time saver and pursue convenience, you can simply try any savory ingredient ingredient in your refrigerator as toppings and create your own style of chazuke. But remember the last step anyway—pour in an infusion of aromatic genmaicha!