Sunday, June 10, 2007

Genmaicha tasting

Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea mixed with toasted rice. For a few weeks now T. has been pushing me to re-try Japanese greens, especially Genmaicha, so this morning I joined him for a few cups and was pleasantly surprised. I told him, "it's like I've had a nice Japanese meal, and some green tea to wash it down, and I'm sitting at the table just staring out the window -- enjoying the lingering flavors." We laughed, but I was serious too. The flavors had hints of the ocean, and there was also a nice bit of grassy astringency to back it up. The toasted rice flavor mixed surprisingly well with the green tea, giving the whole cup a warm earthiness that I wasn't expecting.

In general, when it comes to upscale, fancy teas, I'm an Oolong man. High mountain Oolongs, to be specific, the higher the better. The Japanese greens are such a totally different style of tea that they can taste fishy, or seaweedy to me when I've been on a severe Oolong bender. When I first tried them, I was in heavy heat over Taiwanese high mountain teas and really didn't give them a fair shake. This morning, after my first few sips, I was a convert to Genmaicha. It is known as a "beginners" Japanese green tea, and maybe I have to admit my status in this regard. It will be a nice to have around when I need to mix things up a bit from my normal, hidebound, Oolong obsessiveness.

Apparently, Genmaicha used to be the tea of the poor. It was made cheaply using the lowest grade teas and cut with rice. But now, it's all the rage with the urban in-crowd in Japan. This trend has prompted producers to make high-grade versions of the tea. This, of course, is what Jasmine Pearl carries. Their Genmaicha has an abundance of green tea in the mix, so that flavor doesn't get lost to the toasty flavor of the rice, as can happen with lower grade blends.

And now, back to studying human evolution and the African diaspora.


Bentley said...

Unfortunately my big problem with green tea's is i can never seem to brew them properly.. i love green tea when i go out.. but i can never seem to make it right at home.. :/

damn tea :P
Irish breakfast! mmmm caffeine

Bpaul said...

Yeah, the water has to be below rapidly boiling and you have to pay close attention to the timing. Jasmine Pearl has good directions for each tea, check the link it says what to do.

They're freaks of course -- tea geeks to the max, thermometers in the water and timers and stuff. It's fun, like brewing but mini-size and instant gratification.