Green tea was never a favorite of mine until I met genmaicha. Probably its lack of appeal was a result of my 1) using tea bags rather than loose tea or 2) pouring on water that was too hot or 3) steeping the tea too long…or all of the above. Recently I read that 30 seconds is long enough for green tea, but I’ve always heard that it should definitely be under two minutes. This helps to avoid the astringency I dislike.
In any case, genmaicha has roasted brown rice added to it, which smooths and rounds out the flavor, and has the added benefit of making it seem more of a substantial liquid snack; the article link above mentions that for this reason people like to drink it while fasting. That makes this a Lenten post, don’t you think?
Though I well know that loose teas are superior, I admit that many tea-times I grab a teabag, and even offer them to guests as a rule. The Choice teabags are pretty good, if you can find them, and I have never tried another green teabag I like near as well.
Recently a goddaughter gave me some loose genmaicha from Harney’s Teas, and it is the best I’ve ever drunk. It even looks nice before brewing. This morning I poured my tea into a teacup, which I don’t normally, but I wanted to take its picture, and this setting was nicer. This teacup is one of two remaining pieces of my wedding-gift dishes, Wedgewood Edme.
I can still recall the image of myself shopping in the housewares section of Robinson’s department store in Santa Barbara after my engagement. I knocked one of the Edme display pieces off the shelf and I don’t remember how far it fell, but the saleswoman came over with a smile and said, “Don’t worry, those are hard to break – they are very sturdy.”
They were certainly the classic, understated and elegant (if not fine china) style that I continue to prefer. I learned that the Queen of England ate her breakfast on Edme. It came to pass that our family did chip, crack or break nearly all of the dishes within a couple of decades, because they were our only dishes. We had five children learning to wash dishes at a young age, and a fairly clumsy mother (me) as well.
As the set was reducing in number I switched to restaurant dishes, and they were nearly unbreakable, but they did wear out and get ugly, and I’ve finally retired them. You can see that the style of my new dishes (the least expensive of all I’ve ever owned, and also the “cheapest”), one of which is holding the loose tea above, hearkens back to that of my first set.
But I’m forgetting that I started to write about tea; it’s the contents of the dishes that is most important to me. I not only photographed the tea in the cup, but drank from it. Sustaining and smooth and beautiful.