What Is Popcorn Tea?
Give your green tea a little kick
When Extra Crispy's Editor, Ryan Grim, handed me a box of Teapigs popcorn tea, I was a bit confused. Popcorn tea? Like, tea made from my favorite salty snack? And then I smelled it, and it came to me: This was genmaicha, a special kind of Japanese green tea, just by a different name.
There's no popcorn in popcorn tea, but the name makes sense. Genmaicha was originally created by Japanese peasants who added roasted, popped brown rice to their green tea. This made it less expensive, and helped their limited supply of green tea go further. That's why it's also sometimes known as "the people's tea."
The popped rice looks a lot like tiny pieces of popcorn, but it's the smell that has an even more striking similarity to its namesake. Just like popcorn, it's nutty, with an sweet, gentle undercurrent of butteriness. The rice adds a little sugar and starch to the brew, which results in a smooth, almost creamy tea. When brewed for the recommended 3-5 minutes, the tea barely takes on any color—just a hint of pale yellow.
I had the tea this morning, after I'd had breakfast and settled into the work day. Compared to my usual—oversteeped black tea—this tea was like velvet: comforting, soft, and warm. Especially because I didn't have anything to eat alongside it, I appreciated how delicately-flavored but richly-textured the brew was. It's the perfect tea for all-day sipping.