Ashikita Kamairicha Genmaicha (芦北町釜炒り茶玄米茶) is a comforting Japanese green tea from Kajihara Tea Farm located in Ashikita District of Kumamoto Prefecture. Run to organic standards, this tea garden specialises in producing kamairicha and wakocha teas. We source this tea direct from the grower, Mr Toshihiro Kajihara. The current batch is from summer 2021 harvest.
Genmaicha (玄米茶), literally ‘brown rice tea’, is a very popular tea in Japan. Historically speaking, this type of tea started life as a tea aimed at poor Japanese, hence the moniker ‘people’s tea’. The addition of rice served the purpose of bulking out the precious tea leaves so this type of drink was more affordable. As the addition of toasted rice creates such a unique flavour, it gained popularity both in Japan and in the West. Some refer to it as ‘popcorn tea’ due to its flavour as well as some popped rice present in some teas, which looks like popcorn.
This particular Genmaicha is also made from leaves that were initially processed as kamairicha (釜炒り茶), or ‘pan-fried tea’. It results in a flavour profile that is more balanced with sweeter and lighter green notes. Japanese green teas are normally steamed, a type of processing that imparts a distinctively pronounced grassy and savoury flavour. Less than 5% of current Japan’s tea output is within the pan-fried category! Consequently the vast majority of Genmaicha teas are made from steamed leaves that are then roasted. The combination of pan-fried green tea and toasted rice leads to a particularly smooth tea!
This tea is made from a blend of various cultivars that are grown by Kajihara-san. The green tea is then blended with toasted rice to create this somewhat unusual version of Genmaicha. The rice really brings plenty of roasted flavours and aromas of toasted rice and corn. When brewed, the liquor produced is bright and clear with a light yellow-green colour. The taste is particularly smooth, with dominant roasted cereal flavours. The taste features nutty and vegetal notes and a silky, lightly creamy mouthfeel. There is some sweetness present that nicely balances the more savoury vegetal flavours. The aftertaste is clean, with a lightly tangy edge. This tea leaves an overall comforting impression when hot, but is uniquely refreshing and uplifting when cold!
It is best brewed at 80°C for around 2 minutes, with multiple infusions.
You may also be interested in other teas crafted by Kajihara-san.