Genmaicha: A Taste of Ancient Japan

Genmaicha: A Taste of Ancient Japan

October 09, 2019

Genmaicha: A Taste of Ancient Japan

 

Old/New Japan

 

In ancient Japan, the common people stretched their tea supply by adding toasted brown rice, which was in abundance. The combination of umami-rich sencha (Japan's spring-harvested, steamed green tea) and nutty toasted rice was so adored that it has become a traditional style of tea known as genmaicha, "brown rice tea". Today, it is a popular taste of old Japan, sometimes made with the finest sencha.

 

Genmaicha - Japanese Peasant Tea

 

My favorite genmaicha is from Japan's southernmost tea growing region, Kagoshima. It has a particularly rich taste reminiscent of sweet potato and fresh grass and a delicate, exotic aroma that reminds me of incense, in a really good way. The cup is full-bodied, clean, savory and satisfying. It is the perfect tea to drink with any kind of Japanese food.

 

Mount Sakurajima erupting in Kagoshima

 

The unique taste of the genmaicha from Kagoshima has to do with preparation and terroir–one of the world's most active volcanoes is in Kagoshima. Mount Sakurajima, "cherry blossom island", erupts frequently, throwing mineral-rich volcanic ash over the land, adding nutrients and a rich, umami taste to the tea.

 

Shaded green tea leaves

 

To further intensify the taste and nutrient-density of the tea, the tea plants in Kagoshima are shaded for a week or so before harvest to keep them from photosynthesizing. The result is a vibrant, almost blue-green tea that is exceptionally rich in chlorophyll, amino acids and catechins, the antioxidants associated with tea's reported metabolism-boosting and cancer-fighting properties.

 

Bio Farm farmer; Bio Farm in Kagoshima

 

On top of this, the organic tea farmers I work with at the Bio Farm in Kagoshima use indigenous cultivars like Yutaka Midori and Hatsumomiji for a taste profile unlike anything else in the world.

Click here to get a recipe using our genmaicha and edamame for a tasty autumn snack!

Read Next: Japanese Green Tea: Body, Mind and Spirit      Shop Now



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