Firewater from Pelican Tea gets its name from the addition of hot habanero peppers to the tea. But hot peppers aren’t the only unusual ingredient, this solid black tea also has toasted brown rice, an ingredient that is usually found in green tea genmai cha teas.
I always like to get a whiff of my tea leaves before I brew them, but I was a little nervous about sticking my nose in the bag this time. Would I get a noseful of hot peppers and run away sneezing like in the cartoons? Well, I got lucky, this tea smells savory and earthy and a bit like baked bread from all the starchy brown rice, but no burning or sneezing.
I let the leaves steep and took in the scent of the brewing tea. Still no bite of spice, just more toasted cereal tones from the rice, and a robust black tea. Taking a sip, I finally get a glimpse of the hot peppers. At the back of each sip there is the slightly smoky, chipotle flavor of habanero peppers, and a warm burn of capsaicin down my throat. It’s not so spicy as to be unpleasant, but it is definitely a distinctive experience. All the forward flavors of the tea focus on the nutty, roasted rice.
This would be a great tea for those who like rice in their tea, like in genmai cha. Or this would be a winner for those of you who like the spicy soup sipping broth products out there. The brown rice and earthy black tea take over most of the flavor palette in this tea, but the passing flame of hot pepper spice with each sip makes this something special.
All in all Firewater is a really unique blend that would be a fun gift for any lover of all things hot and spicy.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Pelican Tea
The original Pelican Tea, and an instant classic. Habanero-infused Orange Pekoe black tea and toasted brown rice contribute to an unpretentious blend that’s as comforting as it is spicy.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: ESP Emporium
Here, we have two green teas, which were combined to an exceptional premium tea blend. The characteristic of Japanese Genmaicha is supported wonderfully by our smooth green tea. This creation is perfected by the added strawberry pieces and a finely balanced flavor composition.
Learn more about this tea here.
Since I’ve tried a few ‘unconventional’ Genmaicha blends lately I wanted to do something different with this one, which is why I cold brewed it. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever done that before with a Genmaicha blend; I can’t easily bring an example to mind.
I have to admit it was a little weird tasting a cold brewed Genmaicha; the green tea wasn’t anything exceptional nor was it disappointing but the strong, drawn out notes of roasted brown rice – which took on a near barley taste, were more intense than I would expect from Genmaicha. More like a good mugicha than anything else, to be honest.
The strawberry certainly is not the most vibrant strawberry flavour though. I wouldn’t even call it all that realistic to be honest; what it does taste like it strawberry candy. Some kind of cross between those fluffy strawberry marshmallow five cent candies you see in gas stations and a really nice strawberry gummy candy? I like the taste itself, but the pairing with the green tea/roasted notes doesn’t work for me.
So overall; I’d say there were definitely high and low points to this tea and if I revisit it I’ll definitely be trying an alternative prep method (perhaps something more traditional) than revisiting this one. It’s not worth a second taste.
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.
Calling this blend ‘tea marmite’ is, I think, a pretty big stretch and probably not the best selling tactic if Bluebird Tea Co. wants to get North Americans buying their blends. I’ve had marmite and I certainly was not a fan, nor are most North Americans; that’s one food from across the ocean that I can’t see catching on here. However, this tea? It’s got the potential to, if done correctly.
Genmaicha is one of those teas that I consider a cupboard staple; it makes a very soothing, calming cup of toasted brown rice goodness and it also a great blend for sharing a pot with among friends – and for people truly new to tea who haven’t even come across Genmaicha it’s a good conversation piece as well; explaining the origin of adding brown rice to tea to stretch it out among the lower class in ‘old Japan’ in a fascinating thing to here and gives insight to some just how important tea is in some cultures. I, for one, remember that fact/’origin story’ being one of the most interesting to me when I was first getting really into tea outside of the flavored stuff offered at local chains such as DAVIDsTEA.
Of course, “Genmaicha with a twist” is a fantastic thing too; one a think more companies should run with. Some of my particular flavourites are Nina Paris’ Japon, Verdant’s Minnesota Blend, and Ette Tea’s Mango Sticky Rice. Apple seemed like an obvious, but untapped route – until now.
The initial wave of flavours was a very roasty brown rice and almost barley flavor; this is by far the best part of Genmaicha to me. If the level of roasty/toasty notes isn’t strong enough I’m going to be disappointed and if it’s too concentrated or has a “burnt” taste, like burnt toast, then I’m probably not going to be able to make it through the cup. However, this strikes a really nice balance between the two and has a lovely robust roasty flavour without overwhelming some of the other things going on.
Underneath that first, and most important flavour, was a mild vegetal note – there was some grassiness but mostly it was very marine with a bit of a seaweed flavour. This part of genmaicha is less important to me personally; as long as I can taste the green tea and it isn’t bitter I’m usually a happy consumer and both of those criterion were definitely checked off in this case. Now we get into the most important part of this particular blend: the apple! I’ll admit I didn’t taste it at first; but once the liquor had cooled I started to notice this very bright, slightly tart apple note at the finish of the sip that was lingering into the aftertaste. It’s definitely a greener apple; think Granny Smith or Sundance apples. However, the tartness and slight sweetness provides a really nice contrast between the flavour and whilst fairly simple I think this would be really enjoyable as a flavoured Genmaicha year round, but particularly in the fall.
Definitely worth trying, if you get the chance!
Where To Buy: Yogic Chai
– Genmaicha Tea: Is a flavorful Japanese classic which includes a stunning combination of whole, fresh Green Sencha leaves combined with roasted organic brown rice. The almost sweet, toasted flavor of the rice adds a lovely contribution to the whole bodied green tea leaves
– Cardamom: A household spice that is commonly used to support digestion without increasing Heat.* It has expectorant and diaphoretic actions.* The mucus forming properties of milk are neutralized when cardamom is added to it.*
– Cinnamon: This warming spice is traditionally used in cold formulas as an expectorant and diaphoretic (sweat inducing).* Due to its warming property, cinnamon is known to promote digestion.*
– Cloves: An energizing herb,* cloves are an effective stimulant and aromatic for the lungs and stomach.* Cloves are used extensively in Ayurvedic herbology.
– Ginger: In Ayurvedic and Chinese herbology, Ginger is known to have heating, cleansing, toning and stimulating properties.* Ginger promotes digestion, relieves abdominal discomfort, dispels chills and it is also useful for relieving respiratory complaints due to phlegm and arthritic conditions due to coldness.*
– Lemon Grass: As a medicinal herb, lemon grass is mildly diuretic and a stimulant tonic. * The herb promotes digestion of fats, and in Ayurvedic medicine a preparation of lemon grass with pepper has been used for relief of menstrual troubles and nausea.* The herb stimulates perspiration, cooling the body in summer and lowering fevers any time of year.*
- This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease
Gen Mai? Lemongrass? Chai? I can’t say as I would have thought about putting all of this together but I am sure glad that Yogic Chai did because it’s pretty darned awesome!
The Genmaicha is the perfect ‘strength’ for me and of really good quality. The Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger are all quite subtle and I’m completely fine with that. There are little popped rice that are included in this blend of flavors and I think that is very nice! It makes me smile, actually! The Lemongrass is a wonderful touch!
This is another good, unique chai/blend from Yogic Chai! And I am grateful that I was able to try it. If you have the opportunity to sample it – do it! You won’t regret it!