My mom came to stay with me a few weeks ago, and sure enough we ended up tasting some tea samples together. There’s no better way to catch up with your mom than to chat over lovely cup of tea, right?
For as long as I can remember, Genmaicha, has been one of her favorites. Also known as Japanese brown rice tea or popcorn tea, Genmaicha is nutty and savory yet light-bodied. My mom and I have only purchased Japanese brands of Genmaicha before because they are the most common to find.
I received this Brown Rice Green Tea, also known as Hyunmi Nokcha, as a sample from the Korean tea company, Hankook Teas. As picky as she is with her brown rice teas, my mom was quick to mention that she thought that this blend was delicious. Unlike traditional Genmaicha, Hankook’s Hyunmi Nokcha mixes equal proportions of green tea and toasted rice.
Genmaicha traditionally has a higher ratio of roasted rice to tea leaves. In Hankook’s blend, a greater amount of green tea means that the rich, vegetal flavors of this brew are more pronounced than they would be with Japanese Genmaicha. Also, the rice in this blend is roasted instead of being popped, which helps to develop deep, almost buttery notes in the tea.
Jaksulcha is also known as “sparrow’s tongue tea.” It is thought that the shape of the dried leaf resembles a sparrow’s tongue, and the name is generally reserved for artisan Korean green teas. As this Jaksulcha is harvested in June, it’s brew isn’t as delicate as it would be if the leaves were picked during the Springtime, but it’s bolder flavor and warmer undertones are ideal for complementing the toasted rice flavors.
I brewed Hankook’s Brown Rice Green Tea in my favorite double-paned Korean glazed teacup that I specifically reserve for brewing good quality Jaksulcha. This type of traditional tea ware is also known as Celadon, which refers to its jade-like color and characteristic hairline cracks that appear across its thick, shiny surface. I’m not gonna lie, this cost me a pretty penny when I bought it at Hwa Sun Ji in L.A.’s Koreatown last year, but hey, at least I only bought one right? With such unique character and museum-worthy looks, it’s one of the pieces in my collection that I cherish most.
Tasting Notes for Hankook Tea’s Brown Rice Green Tea:
ORIGIN: Honam Tea Estates, South Korea
BREWING TIPS: 2-3 minutes @ 200 degrees F.
THE LEAF: Pointed, twisty green tea leaves with an equal proportion of toasted brown rice.
THE SCENT: Like dried seaweed mixed with freshly popped popcorn.
THE STEEP: Brews to a soft yellow. A rich, medium-bodied tea with a sweet and nutty finish.
GET IT: The blend is available at Hankook Tea’s website.