Genmai cha (also known as ”brown rice tea”) is the Japanese name for green tea made from bancha tea leaves harvested in the fall then combined with roasted brown rice creating a brisk medium-bodied tea with a toasty flavor and nutty accent. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as “popcorn tea” because a few grains of the rice pop during the roasting process and resemble popcorn. This type of tea was originally drunk by poor Japanese as the rice served as a filler and reduced the price of the tea; which is why it is also known as the “people’s tea”. Today it is consumed by all segments of society.
Genmai Cha combines the many health benefits of drinking green tea with the wonderful flavor and significant health benefits found in roasted brown rice. The added roasted brown rice helps to keep the body more alkaline making it a favourite amongst those who practice a macrobiotic diet. Less caffeine compared with Sencha
Tea steeped from these tea leaves has a light yellow hue. Its flavor is mild and combines the fresh grassy flavor of green tea with the aroma of the roasted rice. The water to steep this tea should typically be about 80-85°C. A steeping time of 3-5 minutes is recommended depending on desired strength and the source of the tea – some sources recommend as little as one minute of brewing time.
Health benefits attributed to Genmai cha tea are as follows:
- Contains catechin (the nucleus of tannin) a polyphenols abundant in Genmai Cha is said to be a powerful antioxidant.
- Brown rice is unpolished whole grain rice. Because the hull or husk isn’t removed the nutrients of the rice are not stripped from it. The bran layer of brown rice contains very important nutrients such as thiamine niacin phosphorous iron and is rich in fibre and essential oils.
- Brown rice also contains significant doses of B vitamins which can help in the protection against toxins.