A few posts ago I mentioned popcorn tea, and several blogging chums commented on this curious phenomenon.
I first came across it under this name at a tearoom in the small Scottish town of Lanark, where it appeared on their tea menu:
In my previous post if I had used its other name, Genmaicha, perhaps less puzzlement would have ensued. (Or perhaps not, I suppose it depends on your level of interest in green tea.)
I was first introduced to Genmaicha by a Japanese flatmate I had many years ago in Edinburgh. She used to buy it in a Chinese supermarket, where it came in a dull green packet marketed without fanfare as ‘green tea with roasted brown rice’. Going food shopping with her was something of a revelation to me.
Although green teas are more readily available in the UK now than they were a few years ago, Genmaicha, or popcorn tea, is not yet a common sighting.
However, I noticed in my local supermarket the other day that green tea in general seemed to be taking over the tea aisle, thanks in large part to Twinings and their love of pairing it with just about every fruit imaginable:
The popcorn tea I had in the Lanark tearoom, and which I am sipping as I write this, is produced by the rather wonderful company, Teapigs.
The ingredients are very helpfully listed on the packaging in 11 different languages, but what surprises me is that there’s no mention of pocorn, which is what I thought the little white knobbly bits in the teabag were (see photographs of teabags below).
They call their design of teabag a ‘tea temple’, and describe it as a ‘spacious, silky, transparent purse’.
The reason for the spaciousness becomes apparent when boiling water is added, as all the leaves, rice and and popcorn bits puff up to fill their mesh home:
The colour of the tea (after steeping for 4-5 minutes, which is my favoured time) is a very delicate pale yellow:
A subtle malty scent wafts from the tea when brewed and, in terms of flavour, I concur with Teapigs that it has an undertone of Sugar Puffs.
It does taste like green tea but, unlike some green teas, the honeyed nutty warmth of the toasted rice appears to counterbalance any bitterness you might expect from steeping the tea for more than a couple of minutes.
In order to concentrate fully on the flavour while writing this post, I closed my eyes while I swallowed a few mouthfuls. (Naturally enough, there was a scone involved, on this occasion maple and walnut):
On feeling the tea slip down my gullet, two images sprang to mind:
1. being outside on a beautiful, calm, sunny summer’s day with the warmth of the sun on my shoulders;
2. being cosily ensconsed indoors with a hot water bottle in the small of my back.
All in all, the sensation was soothing, warming and extremely pleasant.
Popcorn tea is not something I drink every day, but I could imagine that if I lived in a society where drinking green tea was the norm, this sort of green tea would be my preference.
As it happens, popcorn has come into my life in another guise recently, but I’ll save the details for another post.