A Tea Lover’s Chicken Soup
Today’s unusually gray, rainy weather emphasizes that it is the season for sniffling, sneezing, and coughing as well as that all considerations of what to drink turns to what will keep me healthy. My tea routine normally begins with morning Matcha to provide that boost sometimes needed for trying days. (Okay,, so I begin everyday with Matcha — does that a say that all my days are trying?) Later in the day you might find me enjoying a cup of Oolong tea — preferably a Taiwan Oolong. Following dinner I like to enjoy a nice Pu’erh to aid the digestion of all the day’s goodies.
But when the cold season begins, my thoughts and desires turn to boosting my antioxidants. What better way to do this than to turn to green tea and what better green tea to fill the void of chicken soup than Genmaicha (see definition below). The umami (see description below) fills the need for broth and the popcorn tricks the taste buds into thinking noodles.
- Genmaicha (gin-my-cha) — Japanese. Literally, Brown Rice tea. Bancha or medium-grade Sencha combined with well-roasted and popped brown rice (genmai) is known as Genmaicha. The rice adds a slightly nutty taste. Genmaicha has been embraced by fashionable urban Japanese as reverse chic, though they often add Matcha for taste and cachet. Genmaicha is a uniquely Japanese gift to the world and may very well be the most popular Japanese tea abroad..
- Umami [oomahm-mee] — Japanese. Untranslatable tasting term for the fifth taste. In addition to salt, bitter, sweet and sour, human taste buds can also register umami, sometimes described as brothy and not dissimilar to flavors found in fermented fish sauces. Top quality Japan senchas exhibit pronounced umami.
Volunteering at the PA Tea Festival resulted in my acquiring a sampling of an outstanding Genmaicha by Anupa Mueller of Silver Tips Tea. I have tasted many Genmaicha teas throughout my tea adventures; this particular one is the smoothest with an even distribution of green tea/umami flavor that lasts through several steepings. This tea has become one of my favorites for this time of year—reminding me so very much of the homemade chicken soup I so often crave.
My favorite style to enjoy tea is Grandpa (brewing loose leaves directly in a large mug). This Genmaicha lends itself to this style without quickly becoming astringent, which is not always the case with green tea as over steeping green tea normally results in an astringent liquor.
Surviving the cold grey days of winter with my tea soup,
The Tea And Hat Lady