I often find it incredible how a certain fragrance, taste, or even a song can evoke memories. Have you ever had that experience where a certain smell can transport you to a particular time in your life? My Dad said that genmaicha does that for him.
Dad recently told me about how his Grandmother used to use the leftover rice from meals and roast the grains to use for making tea.
I had a tea at the Japanese restaurant on several occasions and it brought back memories of my childhood growing up with my grandmother. My grandmother would boil the rice for our meals. Once we were done she would add some water to the roasted rice stuck at the bottom of the pot and then make a tea out of it. It was the poor man’s way to stretch your tea. It has since become en vogue by tea drinkers in the modern era. The Japanese have been packaging it under “genmaicha” or Gen Mai Tea. Forget finding it on the Island. The next best thing is to make your own. You heat up a fry pan on #6 heat, add a cup of raw brown rice stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Pour the puffed golden rice on a plate to cool. You only need one teaspoon (the rest store away in a container) and then steep with your favorite tea for 3 minutes. Strain and voila! A nutty rice flavored tea. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.”
I don’t remember this flavour from my own childhood, but when my Dad brewed me a cup of this tea, I was immediately transported to my time in Japan. A flood of memories washed over me as I sipped this tea. The taste reminded me a bit of oolong-cha or mugicha. I drank a lot of green tea in Japan, but mugicha quickly became one of my favourite teas when I lived and worked in Japan.
Genmaicha (玄米茶?, “brown rice tea”) is the Japanese name for green tea combined with roasted brown rice. 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.” (Wikipedia)
Genmaicha is one of my new favourites. The taste of the green tea coupled with the roasted rice gives a lovely nutty, earthy, roasted flavour. So good!
It’s incredible how certain flavours evoke memories. Whenever I enjoy a cup of genmaicha, I have flashbacks of times spent under the cherry blossoms having picnics by Fukuyama Castle during ohanami or Sunday bike rides past rice fields in Fukuyama-shi.
Thanks, Dad…for introducing genmaicha to me.