Hello fellow tea friends! Feels good to be back to the blog! I’ve just come back from an epic road trip to Washington D.C!
Meant to have this blog entry done before I left, but alas, the planets did not align in such a fashion. HENCE! I am here to deliver the wordy tea goods now! 😛
A few weeks ago I had a really weird and urgent craving for some genmaicha. I scoured the internets looking for a good, cheap blend, but then remembered I had a tiny packet of M&K’s uber exotic Kuromaicha sitting on my tea shelf. Not completely what I had in mind, but this could prove to be even better! As far as I know, this tea is completely unique to M&K’s Tea- it is a custom blend of kyobancha and hojicha green teas combined with pan-toasted black rice. Neat!
Shop Link: M&K’s Kuromaicha
Ingredients: Organic roasted Japanese green tea, organic toasted black rice.
I love the appearance of this tea- looks like what you might find by taking a sample of soil from a mature forests’ floor. It smells like it a bit, too! The characteristic toasted nutty scent you might expect from a genmaicha is easy to detect, but this kuromaicha also has a really distinctive earthy, wet leaves smell likely given to the blend by the hojicha. So much roasty toasty goodness!
Leaf Amount/Steep Time: 2 tsp/150 mL of water, 20 seconds (+20 more per infusion)
I wanted to experience the maximum amount of flavor I could from this blend, so I decided to use my small gaiwan as my brewing vessel. The directions on the back of the packet are more in line with western-style steeping.
As the tea (quickly) brewed, a scent that was incredibly reminiscent of a children’s cereal rose to my nose- I still can’t remember the dang name of the cereal as I write this blog! It was some kind of toasted grain cereal..ugh.. they were little.. V shapes or something? I think they had a little lizard boy with a hat as the mascot of it? Someone help me out here! 😛 I’m going nuts!
Finally, time to taste! If I didn’t know better, I’d never guess this was a green tea blend. Toasted and bold flavors with slight astringency that one might expect from a black tea dominate the brew. When I take a sip.. I feel like I’ve found myself surrounded by an ancient forest- beneath a broad canopy of leaves, warm moist earth beneath my feet, a slight breeze whistling past my ears… perfection. The dark roasted green tea and toasted black rice work so brilliantly together, a beautiful pairing of fire and earth. I think this flavor profile is much more palatable than the grassy vegetal + toasty rice combination of genmaicha.
With the second steeping, the brew looks a bit darker but is just as fragrant. The slightly longer steep time has definitely paid off- the taste of the toasted rice is especially vibrant, along with a sweeter but still powerful earthy flavor.
The first infusion of this tea was definitely my favorite- the tastes were so powerful and just the scent of the steeping leaves warmed my bones to their core. That said, it might not be the best idea to brew kuromaicha on one of these sweltering summer days we’ve been having as of late! 😛 To enjoy this tea’s immense flavor most optimally (and without the chance of bitterness), I suggest opting to brew with more leaves, less water, and less steep time: this will allow you a much higher degree of control. Try using a gaiwan, if you have one!
Kuromaicha was exactly what I hoped it would be- earthy toasted goodness without any smokey flavors. M&K’s worked for months to perfect this tea, and it definitely shows. I’ve just recently purchased a sample pack of their genmaicha, and am curious to see how it will compare to this blend! Two will enter the ring, but only one may leave! …I’ll let you know how it goes. 😛 See you later, guys!