Ripe melon, buttery popcorn,
pistachios and minerals
Sushi, tempura vegetables,
Kagoshima Genmaicha, Japan
While China has a long history of scented teas, in Japan things tend to be more straightforward. One exception is Genmaicha, a 50/50 blend of green tea and roasted rice. While it's regarded as a delicacy today, Genmaicha's origins are fairly humble. Tea was expensive in ancient Japan, so poorer people would bulk their stock with rice to make it last longer. While we tried many examples, we were particularly impressed with this organic blend from Kyūshū. The green tea is from Kirishima, offering melon and mineral-like notes. This is blended with nutty, popcorn-like toasted rice from nearby Fujieda, giving the finished tea a uniquely satisfying balance of flavours.
Kyūshū is the most southwesterly of Japan's main islands. Characterised by its southern volcanic peaks, lush plains and pristine Pacific coastline, it's a stunning region. In the south of Kyūshū lies Kagoshima prefecture, centred around a deep bay and the active volcano Sakurajima. And within Kagoshima is Kirishima, where, on the mist-shrouded mountainside, some of the region's finest green teas are produced. Blessed by its subtropical warmth, mineral-rich earth and cool nighttime temperatures, Kirishima teas are famed for their complex flavours and aromas.
LEAF APPEARANCE:Emerald-green needles with puffed and popped brown rice
AROMA:Summer grass, roasted peanuts, fresh seaweed
TASTE:Hot buttered popcorn, cut grass, pickled melon
THE ART OF PREPARATION
KAGOSHIMA GENMAICHA GREEN TEA
This is our recommended brewing guide, but by all means adjust to your own taste.
- Warm your teapot and cups with boiling water.
- Discard the water and add two level teaspoons of tea to your pot.
- Add 250ml / 9oz water (i.e. one teacup or small mug) at 90°C / 194°F. If you don't have a thermometer, let the boiled kettle sit for four minutes.
- Place the lid on the pot and steep for three minutes. Stir, then strain the tea into your cup.
- To re-steep the leaves, repeat steps 3–5.