Product Review: Genmai MatchaBooster from Maeda-en

matchabooster-genmai-roasted-rice-Product Information:

MatchaBooster is a ready-to-use matcha-based powder. It mixes easily in your favorite drink and can used as a cooking ingredient.

Boost up your lifestyle with Maeda-en MatchaBooster♪

Where to Buy:  Maeda-en


Genmai is roasted rice often used in tea. Its savory, toasted flavor goes nicely with matcha.

Learn more about this MatchaBooster here.

Taster’s Review:

I like!  I’ve tried at least one or two other powdered Genmaicha teas in the past and have enjoyed them.  I really like how well this MatchaBooster mixes in to the cold water in my water bottle!  It makes a really good drink to go!

For the purposes of this review, I grabbed my water bottle (which holds a little more than 16 ounces of water) and filled it about half way with water.  Then I added a level teaspoon of the Genmai MatchaBooster powder to the bottle and secured the lid and shook it until the powder was well-incorporated.  Then I topped it off the rest of the way with water and shook again.  Now it’s time to enjoy!

No lumps.  No unincorporated particles of tea.  It mixes thoroughly – quickly!  And it stays incorporated.  You don’t need to shake it every time you take a drink.  I did shake it a couple of times while I drank, but this wasn’t to incorporate the tea (I didn’t notice any settlement during the time that it took me to finish the bottle), it was to sort of aerate the tea and try to froth it.

Because that’s probably the only thing that I felt was missing.  When I drink Matcha, I do like that froth.  This doesn’t have a lot of it.

That said, this does have a really good flavor and the lack of froth isn’t keeping me from enjoying it.  Yeah, I miss the froth, but I like the energizing feeling I experience when I drink this, and I love the sweet, toasty flavor of the Genmai together with the light, grassy and buttery notes of the Matcha.  It’s a tasty drink!

It’s really good with just plain water, but if you’re looking to elevate it – try it with coconut water!  Wow!  I love the combination of this Genmai MatchaBooster with coconut water.  The coconut water adds another level of creamy sweetness!  It’s a very refreshing and rejuvenating beverage!

Genmai-Matcha Matsujirushi Green Tea from Steepster

Genmai-matchaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tea Description:

Sencha leaves are expertly mixed with popped brown rice and milled matcha powder. A most comforting and delicious afternoon tea. You won’t find a greener tea anywhere!

Taster’s Review:

During my years as a tea reviewer, I’ve tried several different Genmaicha with Matcha type blends like this Genmai-Matcha Matsujirushi Green Tea from Steepster.  It’s essentially a Genmaicha blend that has been dusted with Matcha powder.  As the tea brews, the Matcha mixes into the hot tea and it becomes part Genmaicha and part Matcha.

And, it surprises me to say this, but this may just be the best Genmaicha with Matcha blend I’ve yet to try.  I’m not sure why that is, perhaps it’s because the Genmaicha here has a base of Sencha leaves rather than Bancha.  I don’t know if that’s the reason, but I do know that this tastes exceptionally good!

The flavor is much of what I’d expect from a Genmaicha:  roasty-toasty and warm, but with that strong note of freshness from the green tea.  The Sencha is light and refreshing with just a hint of bitterness that contrasts with the sweetness of the rice notes as well as the sweetness from the Matcha.  It’s absolutely more sweet than bitter, with just hints of bitterness popping up around mid-sip that offer something a little different for the palate to explore.

And of course, it’s the Matcha that makes this different from your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Genmaicha.  The Matcha makes the tea a little smoother and richer.  It’s a thicker consistency, so the palate enjoys a smooth, velvet-y texture.

This is really a refreshing drink.  I drank most of it while it was hot, but since the temperatures are reaching the 90s these days, I decided to let some of it cool so that I could see how it tastes chilled.  And it makes a tasty iced beverage too.  It’s very invigorating!

Firewater Black Tea Blend from Pelican Tea

firewaterTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Pelican Tea

Tea Description:

Firewater is the original recipe by Pelican Tea and remains our favorite to this day. Premium Orange Pekoe black tea and home-toasted brown rice produce an earthy blend that’s as comforting as it is spicy.  Good around a campfire or mixed with your favorite spirit (silver tequila being our spirit of choice).

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

OK!  I’ve got to tell you … this Firewater Black Tea Blend from Pelican Tea scared me!  I don’t do a whole lot of cooking (or anything else) with the habanero pepper, because even though I do appreciate a zesty, spicy tea every so often, I can’t say that I’ve been really jumping out of my seat to try a habanero pepper infused tea.  I mean, hey, we’re talking one of the hottest peppers out there, and right on the package of this tea, it says this:

Exceptionally Spicy, Habanero Infused

But, I’m thinking … I’ve tried a jalapeno tea, and I’ve tried some really SPICY teas, so I decided to pluck up the courage and brew myself a cup of this tea.  Upon opening the package, I expected there to be a stronger aroma.  I guess I envisioned the hairs in my nostrils feeling the singe of the heat from the habanero.  But that didn’t happen.  OK … this is a good thing!

The fragrance of the brewed tea is slightly spicy/peppery with notes of black tea with a slightly stronger, top note of toasted rice.  The smell is promising.

And the sip?  I took a very careful, timid sip.  I tasted the notes of sweet, toasted rice and the smooth, brisk black tea.  The first couple of sips were warm and spicy, but not ah-chi-cha spicy.  (Yeah … that’s just what came to my head while thinking of a way to say tongue blisteringly spicy.)  After the third sip, I started to notice the warmth develop toward the back of my throat.

After four or five sips, the flavor becomes increasingly more spicy.  By mid-sip, the heat creeps in and warms the palate.  The heat in the back of my throat is warm but not searing hot.  Make no mistake, this is exceptionally spicy, as promised on the label of the package.  But, it’s not uncomfortably, blisteringly, searingly hot.  I’m not feeling the urge to run to the kitchen for something to temper the heat.  I might be thinking “ah-chi-cha” but, it’s in a very good way!

This is what I’d call a very GOOD burn.   It’s hot and spicy and I can feel myself starting to break a bit of a sweat, but, I like the flavor that my palate is experiencing.  I appreciate that Pelican Tea has turned up the heat but they haven’t started a blazing inferno in my mouth.

And what I like best about that is that I’m able to experience the other flavors in this tea.  I can taste that light sweetness from the toasted rice.  I like that I’m tasting the flavor of the black tea and there’s a nice contrast between the sweet and the spicy … and while the spicy does reign over the sweet in this cup, I can taste these other notes and I like that.

This is the kind of tea I’d want to have on hand when I’m feeling under the weather because you know how when you’re feeling sick, your taste buds feel like they’ve been covered with cotton or something?  Like somebody wove a tongue coat of cotton that buffers your ability to taste … anything?  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  Well, with this tea, I have no doubt in my mind that I’d be able to taste it, and it would warm me up from the inside out, and that would be an added bonus.

It’s a great tea for those of you who appreciate a walk on the spicy side of life.

Genmai Hojicha from Sara’s Tea Caddie

Genmai-HojichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Sara’s Tea Caddie

Tea Description:

A variation on two classic Japanese green teas: Genmaicha and Hojicha. With this blend you get the sweetness and buttery popcorn of a genmaicha and the toastiness of a roasted hojicha. Savoury and sweet, nutty and smooth. This tea is a perfect warming green tea for winter weather.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda’s Monthly Tea Tasting Box here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s a happy day when I go out to the mailbox and find my monthly Amoda Tea box in there!  But I have to admit that when I opened my Amoda Box this month, I was a little disappointed.  There was a repeat of a tea that we’ve had from Amoda in the box before:  Minty Winter Wonderland from Tiesta Tea.  I mean, sure, the tea is tasty.  I enjoyed it last winter when it was part of December 2012’s box.  But I subscribed to Amoda Tea to experience new teas, not to be reintroduced to teas that I’ve already tried.  So I’m hoping that this isn’t going to be a trend on the part of Amoda Tea.

But, I am glad that this month’s box also included a packet of Genmai Hojicha from Sara’s Tea Caddie.  This is a really tasty Genmai.  I love the way the sweetness of the toasty Hojicha brings out the sweet, toasted rice flavor.

In a “typical” Genmaicha, the bittersweet grassy tones of the Sencha (or Bancha) are softened and sweetened by the addition of toasted rice.  Here, the sweet, roasted flavor of the hojicha is compounded by the toasted rice – creating a deeper roasty-toasty flavor that is sweet and a little bit buttery.

It is a warm, cozy kind of flavor that is comforting when served hot, and very relaxing and refreshing when served chilled.  I found that the toasty notes still came through nicely with the iced version – I liked that.  When served iced, it’s especially tasty with a drizzle of honey!

Yunomi Monthly Mystery Tea Sampler’s Club: Genmai (Toasted Rice) from Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantation

obubu-genmaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  It isn’t a leaf at all, it’s toasted rice!

Where to Buy:  Yunomi

Tea Description:

Genmaicha or brown rice tea is made by combining genmai (toasted rice) with our Yanagi Bancha. However, we know genmaicha fans may already have their favorite, higher grade senchas, so we sell our genmai separately to allow you to create your own combination. The genmai also makes a delicious garnishing for miso soup, salad, or as a simple, healthy snack.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Yunomi’s Monthly Mystery Tea Sampler’s Club here.

Taster’s Review:

The September monthly mystery tea sampler’s club from Yunomi offered subscribers a very unique opportunity in this month’s package.  Instead of a package of pre-blended Genmaicha, I can customize my own Genmaicha experience using Genmai (Toasted Rice) from Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantation!  Awesome!

In addition to the packet of Genmai I received in my September package, I also received a packet of Houjicha and Bancha, so I decided to start with these two teas to customize my own Genmaicha.  Then I decided to try something a little bit different … and try some Genmai with a black tea.  But before I did that, I brewed a small amount of Genmai to try on its own … just to see what this brewed toasted rice tastes like!

Genmai from Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantation

 The aroma of the toasted rice is really delightful.  It smells a little bit like freshly roasted nuts, but with a grainy sort of fragrance to it too.  It smells delicious.  And the flavor is remarkable!  If you drink a Genmaicha because you love that roasty-toasty flavor … you really should try the Genmai on it’s own!  Sweet, deliciously roasty and toasty with a lovely rice note.  This sort of reminds me of horchata but without the cinnamon and the creamy consistency.  And I LOVE horchata!

 Custom Genmaicha made with Bancha

To make my custom Genmaicha with Bancha, I used the organic Autumn Bancha from NaturaliTea which was also in September’s mystery tea sampler’s club package.  I used 1 part Genmai to 1 part Bancha which I measured using a teaspoon.  Mmm!  I like this a lot.  There is more Genmai to this than in a typical pre-blended Genmaicha, so I get to really experience the sweet, toasted rice flavor.  I taste the light, vegetal taste of the Bancha and I love the way the natural nutty tones of the two components accentuate each other.  This is one of the very best Genmaicha teas I’ve ever tasted.

Custom Genmaicha made with Houjicha

Oh wow!  Totally yum!  To make my custom Genmaicha with Houjicha, again, I turned again to the teas that were included in September’s mystery tea sampler’s tea club package, and used 1 part Genmai to 1 part Autumn Houjicha from the Takea Family.   This is my favorite way to enjoy the Genmai.  This is total roasty-toasty goodness … so autumnal, so perfect for this chilly evening.  So comforting and cozy to sip.  I love how TOASTY this tastes!  Absolute awesomeness!

Custom Genmaicha made with Hawaiian Black Tea

I also wanted to try the Genmai with some black tea … but what black tea to use?  I wanted to use a pure leaf, and my first thought was a Lapsang Souchong as I was imagining how the toasty notes of the Genmai would taste with the smoky Lapsang Souchong.  But, I don’t have any Lapsang Souchong at the moment, as it’s not something that I keep on hand generally … I generally just go for sample sizes of the smoky teas like Lapsang, because I’m not a huge fan of it.  But what I did have is a Hawaiian grown black tea (I won’t tell you where I got this tea since I didn’t get it from Yunomi).  The black tea isn’t a smoky tea; it is a sweet, caramel-y tea with rye bread-ish type notes.

I’m liking how the roasty-toasty flavor from the Genmai meld with the sweet, burnt-sugar caramel.  These two flavors seem made for each other!  I really like the black tea Genmaicha … if for no other reason than it’s different … but really, there’s a lot of reasons to love this tea.  Sweet, smooth, rich … toasty, delicious flavor.  YUM!  (Oh … and just for point of reference, I used the same 1:1 ratio.)

In Summary…

I really enjoyed all the different ways that Genmai allowed me to experiment.  My favorite, as I said, is the Genmai with the Houjicha, but, I really enjoyed it with the other teas too … as well as on its own!  Tasting it on its own like this evokes thoughts of using the Genmai for something like a simple broth with some green onions and wontons.  I really, really like this product a whole lot!