The Ultimate Guide To Genmaicha (2021)

The hearwarming and heart-warming aromatic Japanese tea mixed with brown rice kernels.

This article was last modified November 17th, 2021. by Yuki

genmaicha leaves

Have you ever tried the Genmaicha or the Genmai Tea?

It's a truly unique tea with the aromatics of the roasted brown rice kernels blending with the green tea to make a truly relaxing and heartwarming experience.

Here we'll go over everything you need to know about Genmaicha.


Introduction - What is Genmaicha?

Genmaicha tea leaves

Genmaicha Leaves (Mixed with Brown Rice Kernels)

Genmaicha is very different from the other Japanese green tea, as it is made from mixing green tea and roasted brown rice kernels.

The roasted brown rice would be mixed with other Japanese tea such as Sencha or Bancha. The Genmaicha in the picture above is one that is mixed with Karigane, or twig tea.

Each of these variants will have different taste and flavors. However, for all of these types of tea, the roasted brown rice gives the tea a gentle and mild taste and an almost nutty flavour and rich aroma, making it a healthy and pleasant drink. 

The name "Genmaicha" in Japanese is written as below. It means "Brown Rice Tea".

Genmaicha written in Japanese

It is very popular in Japan as it is considered an economic and yet satisfying tea option, suitable for daily use.  

The underrated part is the health benefits that the genmaicha has to offer. As it comprises of both green tea and brown rice, you can reap the nutrients and health effects of both.

It also contains a reduced amount of caffeine - perhaps the least amount of caffeine out of all the Japanese green tea - so it is the fantastic choice to drink before sleep, and a perfect cup for smaller children or the elderly to enjoy as well. 

The Taste of Genmaicha

The brown rice TOTALLY changes the taste of the tea!

The roasted brown rice kernels balance the astringent and bitterness of the green tea leaves. Together they complete a gentle, mild taste with the excellent rich and nutty aroma released from the roasted brown rice kernels.

The quality of the genmaicha is said to be mostly decided by the brown rice rather than the green tea - so keep an eye on the rice they use in the package.

Usually genmaicha will use mochi-gome or glutinous rice, but sometimes it will use normal brown rice kernels. While the name "Genmai" means brown rice, there are actually genmaicha that use white rice as well. The tastes also vary depending on the amount of the brown rice vs the green tea.

There are different variations of genmaicha depending on the type of tea used to blend with. Some genmaicha may be mixed with matcha, some genmaicha may be mixed with gyokuro, or even kuromame (black beans).

If you like the nutty aroma of genmaicha, it is fun to try out and experience the differences of these genmaicha variations.

During the manufacturing process, the rice may pop like a popcorn. You may find these "burst" brown rice kernels in the product as well. This is why genmaicha is sometimes called the "popcorn tea".

It would look like this

Genmaicha with popped brown rice kernels

However, the genmaicha with less of this exploded brown rice is considered being the higher quality tea. This is because the strong aroma will be emitted more from the brown rice that have not burst, producing a more enjoyable tea.

So try to go for the Genmaicha which don't have these popcorn-ish brown rice mixed in!

The Health Benefits of Genmaicha

Now, let's look into the Health Benefits of Genmaicha.

Since genmaicha contains both green tea and brown rice, as you may expect, the make-up of nutrients will be a little different from normal green tea.

The catechin and theanine, which usually are the key nutrients that derive most of the health benefits of green tea, will be less as the green tea portion is only half of pure green tea. However, genmaicha contains nutrients coming from the brown rice kernels which other green tea can't provide.

Here are some of these nutrients.


GABA is one of the important nutrients deriving from the brown rice.

It is short for Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, and you may be familiar with this name as it is known to be included in chocolates and provides a relaxation effect. Brown rice is rich in GABA, and contains roughly 4 time the amount of GABA in white rice.

As genmaicha contains a lot of GABA and has low levels of caffeine, it's actually a good drink to help your sleep at night.


The substance y-oryzanol, also found in brown rice, is known to help reduce cholesterol.

The catechin included in the green tea already has the ability to help the cholesterol. Therefore, in genmaicha, you have both catechin and y-oryzanol in controlling the cholesterol levels.  

Y-oryzanol also is known to reduce the symptoms of menopause disorders, and blood sugar levels - which makes it a good choice to take before food.

Vitamin E and others

Outside of these, Vitamin E is in greater levels in genmaicha as well, helping the anti-oxidant effect. You can also take dietary fibres and vitamin B from the brown rice as well.

Keep in mind that on top of these, the green tea portion contains fantastic nutrients such as catechin and Theanine. We'll dig deeper into the nutrients of green tea in this article here.

How to prepare delicious Genmaicha?

Normal-grade Genmaicha High-grade Genmaicha


2 servings

2 servings

Water (ml)

200 ml

200 ml

Leaves (g)



Leaves (roughly in teaspoons)

3 tsp

3 tsp

Temperature (Celsius)



Brewing time (Seconds)

30 seconds

60 seconds

Chart: Instructions on brewing Genmaicha

Genmaicha is best brewed quickly with boiling hot water, to release the aroma to the max. Use 6g of genmaicha leaves for 200 ml of hot water. Prepare in boiling water or hot water between 90-100 degrees Celsius.

The infusion time should be about 30 seconds. Don't brew too long as it will make the bitterness to come out. You can refer to this step-by-step guide on how to make delicious Genmaicha here.

Depending on the quality of the Genmaicha, the instructions will be to use lower water temperatures, such as 80 degrees. In this case, follow those instructions as optimal ways of brewing depends on the tea.

A cup of Genmaicha

Second infusions of Genmaicha is also possible.

If the first infusion is done at 80 degrees, make sure you raise the temperature to 90 degrees. You don't have to wait for the infusion. You can serve immediately once you add water into the teapot.

How is it made? (Manufacturing Method)

The brown rice kernels used for the genmaicha will be first soaked in water and then steamed. After that, it will be roasted until it gives it a slightly burnt brownish colour.

Once the brown rice kernels are ready, it will be mixed with the green tea leaves in equal proportions.  

Generally, genmaicha is considered a low-grade and cheap Japanese tea, the same grade as a bancha or a houjicha. Therefore, low grade tea such as bancha will be commonly be mixed with the brown rice.


Make sure you stop by our shop when looking for Genmaicha, as we handpicked some great recommended products. The variety of tastes the different types of genmaicha provide is one of the great charms of this tea. We recommend that you try a few types, and make your diet healthier by incorporating it into your daily life.

I see that there are many types of Genmaicha. How are they different?

There are several different types of Genmaicha depending on the type of Japanese tea it is mixed with. While the dominant taste and flavor of the brown rice is a constant, the taste of the green tea compliments the taste in slightly different ways. Let me explain a bit by using the Genmaicha in our shop as an example.

We currently carry the following 3 types of Genmaicha in our shop.

The Karigane Gennmaicha - Brown rice mixed with Karigane or "twig tea". The twigs add a fresh, straw-like taste and matches very well with the brown rice aroma. This is a very popular and heavily repeated product.

Genmaicha with Matcha - The base of this tea is also the Karigane or "twig tea". You get a similar freshness to the Karigane Genmaicha here as well. However, the additional Matcha adds a thickness and mellowness to the tea. Equally heavily repeated, we get great feedback from our customers for this one as well.

Gyokuro Genmaicha - We recently added this product back to the shop. You can indeed taste the deeper and more settled tasting notes of the Gyokuro within the Genmai tea. There is a stark difference between this and the two Genmaichas above, which have more high notes.

Can we conduct second infusions of Genmaicha?

Yes, you can conduct second infusions of Genmaicha.

Author Yuki


Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.