Thursday, August 05, 2010

People’s Tea, or “Brown Rice Tea”

By Alexandra Hoover

Genmaicha , or brown rice tea, is also known as "people’s tea" in Japan. As it was—and still is—made from a combination of green tea and brown rice, genmaicha was the perfect way to conserve resources. In Japan, brown rice tea used to be made by people who couldn’t afford plain green tea. They added the brown rice as filler. Today, people of all cultures and social economic backgrounds drink it, given that they have heard of this unusual tea.

Brown rice tea is reminiscent of preparing popcorn, as the rice makes popping sounds when it is prepared; nevertheless, it does not taste like popcorn. The flavor is a slightly grassy variation of green tea with a hint of a nutty, roasted rice flavor. It can be served cold or hot.

The color of this tea is yellow and can be altered depending on the amount of time you choose to brew it. While some people prefer to steep it from three to five minutes, other people prefer a more subtle taste and brew it for one minute, instead. To prepare the rice, toast a thin layer of brown rice on a small to medium sized pan. Toast the brown rice using low heat. Don’t turn off the burner until the rice is brown. This particular step should not take longer than five minutes.

Next, allow the rice to cool. Store it in a container until you are ready to make the rest of the tea. Place a tablespoon of whole green tea leaves in a sieve along with a tablespoon of toasted brown rice. You can adjust the amount, depending on how strong you would like the tea to be. Heat water in a pot until it boils, placing the sieve into the pot when it is ready. Steep from one to five minutes. Then you are ready!