Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.
This blend of roasted green tea, popped rice and toasty apples is a bit of a tea Marmite. Some are addicted to its grassy, savoury taste but it’s not for those with a sweet tooth. Don’t worry though, Genmaicha fans will absolutely love Bluebird’s unique twist on the classic Japanese ‘popcorn’ tea.
Learn more about this tea here.
This is a flavoured genmaicha blend from one of the UK’s few independent tea mixologists – Bluebird Tea Co. This blend has been around since the inception of the company, so it’s one of their “original” teas, so to speak. It’s probably fair to say that they’ve come along in leaps and bounds since then, but this blend stands the test of time.
The dry leaf contains pretty much a 50/50 mixture of toasted brown rice and roasted green tea. The base tea is a blend of Chinese and Japanese greens; the Japanese being Bancha and the Chinese unspecified. The leaves are fairly small – some are darker and rolled into thin tubes, others are a lighter green and folded in appearance. There are some pieces of popcorn, although few compared to some genmaicha blends I’ve tried. There’s a generous smattering of apple cubes throughout.
I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-orange, and smells primarily of sugar puffs, but with an edge of seaweed. An odd combination if ever there was one!
This is a bittersweet blend to taste. The initial sip is quite heavily toasty in flavour, presumably from the rice. It’s not quite burnt toast, but very nearly, and while it’s not acrid, there’s an edge of bitterness that’s heading that way. The mid-sip is sweeter as the apple flavour emerges. It’s a floury, mildly floral apple that puts me in mind of homemade baked apples in the winter, only without the accompanying dried fruit. The apple flavour fades slowly away, leaving the slightly dank-tasting green tea behind.
It feels a little unseasonal drinking this one in summer, as this is a blend perfectly suited to blustery autumn afternoons. The only thing I would have liked to add is a touch of spice – perhaps a little cinnamon or ginger, or maybe some dried fruit flavouring. That would have made this a true baked apple tea! As it stands, toasted apple is a completely apt name. The beautiful baked apple notes are perfectly suited to a toasty genmaicha base, and the pairing seems to bring out the best in both flavours! A delicious sweet-savoury treat.
I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.
I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they're the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer -- their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.
I'm still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don't think they'll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don't hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I'm also beginning to explore pu'erh, both ripened and raw. That's my latest challenge!
I'm still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.