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Jun 6, 2009 09:29 PM

Matcha-Iri-Genmaicha vs. Genmaicha, and best one/place to get it? (Brown rice tea)

I've had some gorgeously toasty genmaicha at a high-end restaurant, and have a semi-decent bag brand of it now (sencha green tea and toasted rice), but was in a Japanese shop today and saw they had a $12 small pack with matcha powder. That, I understand, is also called Matcha-Iri-Genmaicha.

So, I don't recall what matcha tastes like really, but I'd like to get the most wonderful, flavorful and toasty brown rice tea I can find within some budgetary sanity. My questions are:

Is the variety with matcha WAY tastier than the other?

What's a good price range for whatever you're recommending?

Where can I buy it online or in L.A.?

Thank you.

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  1. Okay, there are many different grades of Matcha, ranging from $12 for small pack (usually 20g which means 20 bowls, 1 serving is 1 gram of powder) to 50 for high grade match and some extremely rare matcha that can be 100+ for 20 grams.

    Matcha only means the powdered green tea from japan usually from tencha leaves (not sencha as most believe).

    You can easily tell just by the color of the match which one is high grade. Example, the lowest grade match is "restuarant grade" because it's used in cooking, in flavoring. You would not really drink it, it's too bitter, not much body, no sweetness, just not very good. The color is usually darker green. Basically the brighter the green the higher the quality. Some of the best matcha i've even had was almost like neon green. it was soo smooth, fresh, sweet, complex, frothy (as you can ruin great match by no making it right, thats a whole other topic).

    Genmaicha only means toasted rice with japanese green tea. (its a totally different tea), it's loose not powdered.

    Genmaicha is often blended with matcha, and the matcha adds a nice sweetness to it and give it more body. It's a much higher grade rather than just regular genmaicha. Basically if you just like the roasted rice flavor, get the cheapest you can find.

    Genmaicha is cheap, because the point is, in japan it's drank with lunch or throughout the day but it's meant to go with food, as the roasted rice helps digestions and helps protect the stomach. The nutty toasty flavor goes perfect with sushi or other light savory and sweet foods.

    But if you want a genmaicha that has a nice robust, sweet and nutty flavor that is delicious you can get genmaicha laced with matcha, which is a stand alone tea, meaning you can drink it alone, or rather, it will taste awesome alone. I live in NY so dunno about LA, and the only place I've had Genmaicha with matcha, (i don't choose to drink regular genmaicha, too much toasted rice, too plain) in nyc is Radiance Tea House in midtown, i don't think they sell tea unfortunately, but i tried it at a tea tasting and it was really nice (i usually drink gyokuro, but they had it at the tasting so i wasn't going to refuse, and to my delight, it was very good, thats actually where i learned all about genmaicha and other japanese teas, haha, sorry i like tea but can't take ALL the credit for the knowledge), you can try to call them i guess to see if they mail it?? anyways, hope this post helped about tea, and good luck finding it!

    9 Replies
    1. re: gibberisimo

      Gib, this is very interesting knowing the roasted rice information you put forth...the shop owner I bought my genmaicha from told me that peasants started adding roasted rice to the green tea leaves in order to stretch out the usage of the leaves. Didn't know it also adds digestive value. First time I ever had the genmaicha was in San Fran visiting my son this past January; a little sushi place served a pot of it with our meal and the nutty flavor really did go nicely with our sushi. Now I drink it after lunch at work almost every day; wasn't crazy about green tea til I had the genmaicha.

      1. re: Val

        I often drink a cup of genmaicha in the evening if I had too much to eat or feel gassy. It does seem to have a soothing quality.

        Usually I get the basic Yamamotoyama package. Some times I've tried a more expensive Yama package or other brand, but haven't noticed too much difference. With some brands you can see the side of the tea pieces. In general large tea leaves and bits of stem are an indication of cheaper tea (with a less delicate taste?).

        I recall looking at a brand of genmaicha with with matcha, in silver packaging, I think. I wasn't convinced by its sales pitch.

        My other favorite Japanese tea is hoji-cha, roasted green tea. This is larger pieces of tea that been roast, producing a brown, slightly smoky tea. Its a work day tea, that works well mid afternoon.

        1. re: paulj

          Thanks - I'll try hoji-cha too.

          1. re: Cinnamon

            Hojicha is unbelievable, a good one is smoky, then leaves a long lasting sweetness in the throat and mouth. the best part that it's really cheap.

            If you want to do some digging, and have the time, you can your own hojicha roaster! basically take bancha or Kukicha (japanese green tea stems) and then you can roast them to turn into you very own Hojicha, never tried it but it seems like it would be amazing =).

            buy if you guys ever have the chance, it can be pricey but at some point, a SHINCHA (new spring flush of japanese tea) or a high grade GYOKURO, those are green teas to die for!

            1. re: Cinnamon

              It is very good, but a little "darker" in flavor that the other Yamamotoyama tea.

              1. re: KristieB

                Thanks, picked up Yamamotoyama matcha genmaicha tea last night ($5). It's nice, certainly more complex than the just-genmaicha I had bought for home before, but 'darker' in flavor sounds good also, in terms of what I'm questing for, so I'll be trying that hoji-cha - they did have some varieties at Mitsuwa market in L.A.

        2. re: gibberisimo

          Thanks for the thoughtful reply. The genmaicha I have now is actually not terrible. It's Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf of all things. I did buy the genmaicha they had at one of the larger pan-Asian grocers here and it was not good, very bland - kind of like a weak Rice Krispies. I'll probably toss it. I fear that the genmaicha I had at a high-end restaurant awhile back probably was blended with a nice matcha, and now I'm going to have to hunt that down. It was really, really good with some complex but subtle flavors and a gorgeous toastiness. This also caused me to fall in love with the handle-less Japanese pottery teacups .... toasty tea, warm cup to hold, good experience.

          1. re: Cinnamon

            Here are a couple Genmaichas with Matcha: and then there is also I've had the first one from SA and apparently it won an international award. Ironically it's priced lower than the other one from what I can tell. It's really a great tea; you can taste the difference. It's creamy. That's the word that I found sets it apart. Enjoy!

            1. re: jasonwitt

              The packaging on the SA site looks familiar. The price scared me off.

              Interesting that the second site sells a hoji-genmaicha, the roasted leaves with the rice.

        3. I purchased Yamamoto yama brand brown rice green tea and it tasted exactly like the exellent tea I had in a sushi place in Virginia Beach. Light, toasty, almost sweet and very smooth. I see it in asian grocery stores.

          1. I'm not a serious fan of either genmaicha or genmai matcha-iri but you'd do well to try both from Hibiki-an ( Have a look at my friend Robin's product review--I introduced him to this vendor and he's been a loyal customer ever since and despite formerly liking only genmaicha (to the exclusion of all other tea, I might add), he now likes genmai matcha-iri as well. I'd point out that these are higher-end offerings than you'll find in most stores in the States.
            Incidentally, houjicha lovers would do well to try their houjicha karigane. It adds a whole new, sweet dimension to houjicha. I'd also point out that the merits of shincha and gyokuro are relative, i.e. varietal, hand-picked vs. machine, area tea region, processing, etc., and it's essential to have a trustworthy vendor because price isn't always an indication of quality. I was burned a number of times during the course of my "tea odyssey." Wasting money is always painful.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MacGuffin

              I've always enjoyed the Kukicha Twig Tea from Eden Foods and I noticed they have Genmaicha Tea:, it's worth a shot, especially since it's only $3.32 and can be purchased at Whole Foods.

              1. re: MacGuffin

                I'm going to update my recommendation to include Zencha ( since they now offer two grades of genmaicha, both from Shizuoka. I practically had to pull the aforementioned friend's teeth to get him to try their better grade and now he switches back and forth between it and Hibiki-an's. Zencha has been one of my favorite vendors for years--you can buy from them with confidence.

              2. I've been drinking the genmaimatcha from ito-en for the past year- I'm very fond of it. It's good both hot and cold- in the summer (which is definitely started here in Phoenix) I like to cold brew it. The ito-en stuff can be ordered online- its $9.60 for 3 oz. I like it better than any stuff I've bought in asian grocery stores. The other option you can try, is to buy just the toasted rice, ( I've seen it sold at most japanese grocery stores) and then add it in any proportion you like to your favorite green tea...


                1 Reply
                1. re: cookingchick

                  I've bought several senchas from Ito En but really only liked the sakura; I found the other two coarse and bitter, despite not-very-hot water (yeah, I know how to brew sencha). The staff are very nice, though, and they're a source for the imperial grade Makaibari Silver Tips (to die for), plus you can buy as little as an ounce of anything, so I'm glad they're here.

                2. Upton tea has both genmaicha and matcha dusted genmaicha. I've had both and enjoyed them, though the matcha dusted one has more flavor, is more assertive. Genmaicha has always tasted sort of brothy to me, probably because of the rice, but that's not an unpleasant attribute, just a little unusual. The good thing about Upton is they have a standard domestic shipping charge of $4.20 per order, no matter how large or small. I live in Kansas, and my orders reliably come from Massachusetts in two days I imagine it'll take longer to LA, but my brother says his orders to San Diego usually arrive in 3-4 days.