Genmai cha is a special type of green tea with toasted rice. Some of the rice kernels have popped in the toasting process, looking like little puffed, white popcorn pieces. I’ve sometimes seen genmai chai billed as the “movie night” tea for its inclusion of these popcorn-like rice pieces. No matter what you name it, genmai cha is a unique and delicious tea experience.
It was a long time in my tea journey before I put genmai cha tea into my usual rotation. Beyond the puffed rice in the dry leaf, the next most striking impression about the tea is that it is savory. If you aren’t expecting a savory experience, the brew can be a little unsettling at first. If you know this tea won’t be fruity or floral going into it, you’ll be much better off. Tasting Harmony Tea genmai cha from Mellow Monk was no exception.
Brewed, the Harmony Blend smells like warm bread or sticky rice. With these meal-like flavors, the warm tea might seem almost more like broth than tea. Over my years of drinking genmai cha, I find this warm brew and its toasty, starchy flavors to be supremely comforting, like sitting in the kitchen when the oven is on and bread is baking.
Despite all this toastiness, it is good not to forget that genmai cha is a green tea, so brew it with slightly cooler water to avoid burning the green tea leaves. Though the toasted rice is the prominent scent and taste of the tea, there is a role for the green tea to play in the flavor profile.
Green tea on its own can sometimes have savory incarnations, but it is usually a vegetable-inspired savoriness, like buttery bok choy or dark and nutty kale. The green tea in Mellow Monk’s Harmony Blend is much sweeter, and not too vegetal. It reminds me of a smooth green tea matcha, green and grassy but still sweet like nutty wheat bread.
It is a rainy, gray day today, and a warming cup of toasty Harmony Tea was just what I needed to turn my mood around.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Mellow Monk
Harmoney Tea™ is a genmaicha — green tea mixed with roasted brown rice. The rice imparts a nutty, toasty flavor that makes genmaicha one of the most popular types of green tea in America. Unlike some tea growers, this artisan roasts his own rice, which he buys from local farmers. (During roasting, some of the rice grains pop like popcorn. This popped rice is also included in the mixture to enhance the flavor.)