Brand: Tea Total
Tea: Green, loose leaf
Flavour: Japanese Genmaicha
Cost: NZ$16 for the tin, NZ$12 for the soft pack.
Ingredients: Green loose leaf tea, roasted brown rice.
As with all of Tea Total’s range, when it comes to their packaging you have the option of a 100g branded airtight tin, or 100g soft pack. This time, I chose the soft pack and put it in one of my glass containers at home. Upon initial inspection this Japanese Genmaicha tea has average leaf quality with an attractive simple and tidy blend aesthetic, consisting onyl two ingredients: approximately 60% green tea leaves and 40% roasted rice throughout. Curious upon closer inspection, noticing the odd spare roasted grain of rice that has ‘popped’ like popcorn through the roasting process.
Sadly there is no region or country origin stated, no ethical sourcing or packaging.
The initial packet aroma smells savoury and light with a prominent note of popcorn throughout, as is the characteristic flavour of Japanese Genmaicha – sometimes also known affectionately as ‘popcorn tea’ and holding true to its namesake. Water is added and the liquor grows to a smooth light golden yellow. The steeped aroma stays true to expectations, tasting of popcorn with savoury notes of the green tea complimenting the roasted rice grains. There is quite low astringency, which is expected due to the green tea being sourced from Japan.
Brew time: Not your average green tea!
Initial brew: 1 minute; second brew time(optional): 2 minutes.
The first cup is poured. It is not a shy flavour, but still light and delicate, thanks to Japan’s growing conditions for most of their tea estates. Overall its bouquet is very true to its steeped aroma, a balanced mix of savoury green Japanese tea and roasted rice grain notes, with a low astringent tone which sits very quietly at the back of the mouth. This is true to a balanced infusion, so the flavour experience is through the whole palate.
Notables: Some tea brewers choose to re-steep certain teas. I don’t tend to do this with mine unless it is a Japanese green, or a white tea, as others just can’t hold up through that second infusion to produce an enjoyable, drinkable tea. A second round of water infusion with this Japanese Genmaicha holds true the same notes I’ve stated above, however it is a slightly weaker taste. Alternately you can add an extra single teaspoon of the blend to your pot for the second run if you like it strong. Just don’t try a third run on my advice, as I find it to be far too weak, lacking the integrity of the initial brew, and astringency starts to build making it unpleasant. If all that re-steeping business makes you feel uncomfortable, then feel free to brew the leaves just once for two minutes. Cup remains are tidy, fine and minimal. Only slightly grainy following the second infusion.
If you want a good savoury green blend that doesn’t have a harsh astringency like some Ceylon green teas can, this is it. If you like popcorn and nut notes through your palate, then I recommend this to you even more. This is my staple savoury green tea that I have in my tea shelves at all times and often share it with guests in my kung fu style tea cups. Ticks all the flavour boxes for me as I love Japanese green blends, with low astringency and unique flavours that are executed with absolute balance as this one is.
There is some history with this blend as well. The token Genmaicha blend came about in Japan. As tea was an expensive commodity, the peasants put roasted rice grains mixed in with their tea to make it go further and thus making it less expensive. It was also used commonly by those fasting for religious purposes in Japan. The token Genmaicha tea blend has stayed with us through time and has recently made a huge resurgence becoming very popular within western culture and global tea brands.
Rating: 9/10, I only wish that they had ethically sourced ingredients, then it would be a perfect ten for me.