Tea in My Popcorn, and Popcorn in My Tea

If you are a Japanese green tea drinker, I’m sure you are familiar with genmaicha. Genmaicha is a type of green tea blended with toasted rice.  Sometimes during the toasting process, the brown rice actually pops giving the appearance that there is popcorn in the tea, and so it is also common to call genmaicha “popcorn tea.”  Roasty and clean tasting, this is my mom’s favorite tea.  This Green Tea Furikake recipe is a play on genmaicha, and a riff on one of my favorite Japanese dried seasonings called furikake.

Genmaicha, also called “brown rice tea” or “popcorn tea”

Furikake generally starts with a base of seaweed flakes or strips that get blended with other dry seasonings like salt or sugar.  It is commonly scattered over hot rice as a condiment.  In this recipe, I’ve replaced the seaweed with green tea, making the furikake more fragrant and making the vegetal flavor stronger.

Homemade green tea furikake verses the store-bought version

I also added a generous dose of roasted sesame seeds and gochugaru to the mix. Gochugaru are Korean chili flakes, which are commonly used in making kimchi.  You can find gochugaru at any Korean supermarket or just use crushed red pepper flakes as a substitute.  Gochugaru isn’t as hot and is a bit sweeter than the red pepper flakes you find in American supermarkets, so you would want to measure less if you go with the swap out.

Korean chili flakes (gochugaru) and bonito flakes

A scattering of bonito flakes makes this light snack complete.  These dried fish flakes are used to make Japanese dashi soup stock, and are also used over salads and rice dishes to add salty and slightly sweet umami flavor.  I read the other day that people commonly buy these flakes as snacks for their cats…some even call it “kitty crack!”  As smart and picky as cats are, take it as a sign of good taste that they can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

Japanese tea cups make perfect serving vessels!

You can use any leftover furikake as a seasoning over hot rice, as a light coating for fish before pan frying, or even over boiled soba noodles.  And remember, the better the tea you use, the more fragrant and delicious this furikake will be.

Green Tea Furikake Popcorn

Serves 3-4.  

Ingredients:

4 cups popped popcorn, microwave or regular

For the Furikake:

2 Tbsp green tea leaves (I used Sencha)

1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds

1/2 tsp gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes) or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp fine salt

1-2 Tbsp bonito flakes (optional)

Equipment:

Spice grinder or mortar and pestle set

Directions:

1.)  Pop popcorn and place into large bowl.

2.)  In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle set, give green tea leaves a coarse grind.  This should take a few short spins in the grinder.  Dump ground tea into a small bowl and add sesame seeds, chili flakes, and salt.  Mix well.

3.)  Toss green tea furikake blend in with popcorn and toss well.  If using, top popcorn with bonito flakes to taste.

4 thoughts on “Tea in My Popcorn, and Popcorn in My Tea

  1. this might be a dumb question, BUT, will any green tea do? i don’t want to have to make a special trek to the asian market and would rather hit up the local grocery store’s organic tea section.

    • Hey Again Lan! For this recipe, a bright green, unflavored, completely leaf-based Japanese green tea will work best. I say this because some green teas like Houjicha are darker (due to roasting) and have twig pieces thrown in, which wouldn’t work here. Chinese green tea leaves tend to be shaped a bit more gnarly than Japanese green teas, so they also won’t be a good choice.

      In a well-stocked grocery store, you should definitely be able to find an appropriate green tea for this furikake. These days, you can find alot of good quality teas (like Tazo) at your local grocery store. If you buy the kind already in tea bags, the tea leaf bits might be small enough that you can entirely skip the step of having to grind the leaves. Hope this helps!! =)

  2. I’m equally as glad to have found you! Thanks for the follow (: I love tea and I always look for new ways to incorporate them into my bakes! And furikake and popcorn? genius!

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