Tea review // Popcorn Tea (Genmaicha)

Brand:   Perfect South
Tea:       Green, loose-leaf
Type:     Genmaicha
Cost:      $12/ 50ml

Green tea with cast iron teapot

Today I embarked on my first official Tea Lady tasting, armed with a cast-iron teapot, kettle, teacup and a fresh package of unopened tea.

I picked this one up at the Sydney Tea Festival a few weeks ago, after masochistically imposing a hideous rule upon myself: to purchase just one pack of green tea. Spoilt by choice, I circled several laps of the hall before following my gut instinct (and nose) to the Perfect South stand, where I decided on a 50ml pack of Australian-grown Genmaicha.

Genmaicha is my most beloved type of green tea. It’s a Japanese style that combines green tea leaves with roasted Japanese brown rice, a flavour pairing made in heaven. It’s often referred to as ‘popcorn tea’ because the rice pops during the roasting process.

Perfect South Genmaicha tea

Preparation

Boil:         90 degrees or let fully-boiled water cool for 4 minutes
Amount:  200ml small teapot // one teaspoon
Steep:      1 min (recommended brew time for Genmaicha is 30 secs- 1 min).

The tea teasting

Inside the brown paper packet I found small, dried yet fresh shincha leaves (tender new sencha leaves picked at the beginning of the harvest), stalks, and a wonderful amount of toasted brown rice. The tea to rice ratio (2-1) was perfect, the caramel-coloured rice puffs roasted to perfection.

Upon brewing the tea, the rice absorbed the water and became edible. The aroma from the teapot, both salty and sweet, made my stomach growl: hints of brown rice and seaweed echoed the smell of a sweet miso soup.

The liquor, when poured into my cup, sparkled with a light golden hue.

Tasting this tea took me on quite the journey: initially, the taste was subtle, slightly salty and grassy. Vegetal tones emerged as I swirled the liquor around my mouth. The familiar, slightly astringent taste of high-quality sencha, similar to that of spinach, emerged, but this was just a flash in the pan before the rice took over: salty and nutty to begin with, ending slightly sweet, toasty and buttery on the tip of my tongue. Like…. popcorn?!

This winning combination of salty and sweet was marvellously moreish, and I immediately boiled the kettle for a second cup.

The verdict?

Possibly the nicest Genmaicha I’ve ever tasted, and homegrown to boot. Who’d have thunk Australian-grown green tea could taste this good? Similar to Japanese-grown green tea, but something was definitely different, although I’m failing to place my finger/ tastebuds on it. Perfect South grow their tea leaves in the the sub-alpine valleys of Victoria, in a climate they claim is similar to that of the tea-growing regions of Japan. I was told that they sell only their two most recent harvests of shincha leaves, which explains the freshness.

A high-quality green tea that takes you on a superbly well-thought out journey of flavours. I love the packaging – simple and practical with no unnecessary extra bits to throw away.

Where to buy? Visit Perfect South’s website.

PerfectSouthTeaBack lowres

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