Popcorn Tea

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:

twinings-green-teas

Some of the many varieties of green tea available from Twinings. My local supermarket stocks these by the truckload so someone must be drinking it all.

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’.

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A Teapigs tea temple, containing popcorn tea

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It’s a sort of tetrahedron type shape, although that’s quite possibly not the correct term for it. In any case, it is undeniably spacious and transparent.

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:

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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):

Teapigs popcorn tea with a maple and walnut scone.

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;

sunny sheep

2. being cosily ensconsed indoors with a hot water bottle in the small of my back.

Delightful assistant no.1 soaking in the warmth from a hot water bottle at her 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.

A new way to eat popcorn – enrobed in Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate.

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Categories: Green tea, Lanarkshire, Leaf tea, Photography, Scone, Scotland, Tea, Tea tasting, Teabag, Teacup, Teapot | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Popcorn Tea

  1. I’m going to have to look for this tea – it sounds really good! That sheep is so cute too… :)

    • It might not be to everyone’s taste but I think it’s a lovely tea, something a little different from the usual. The sheep’s lovely isn’t it? I couldn’t resist it.

  2. brie

    Two of my favorite tea companies (harney and sons and might tea leaf co.) make teas with this popcorn note and I adore them! The Cadbury bar reminds me of a woman I used to work with who still had relations in Ireland. they would send her extra cadbury bars in the mail as they knew that she would always gift a few to me…..tea, perfume and chocolate…my three vices :D !!

    • I’ve heard of the Mighty Leaf, but I didn’t know they made this popcorn tea. It’s rather nice, isn’t it? How lovely that your Irish colleague shared her booty with you. Your story reminds me of my time as an ex-pat when my mum used to send me Cadbury’s chocolate; there was always great excitement when it arrived. If you’re going to have vices, tea, perfume and chocolate sound like pretty good ones to me. :-)

  3. I’ve seen tea like this, but haven’t tried it yet. It looks yummy! I’ll have to track some down!

    • I hope you like if you can find it somewhere. It might be an acquired taste, although I think I liked it the first time I tasted it. It certainly makes for a nice change from other teas.

      • I like green tea, so I think I will probably like it :) I mostly drink black tea, but it is nice to have something different every now and then!

        • In that case I think you will like it. Green tea isn’t something that appeals to everyone, at least not in the UK, but it’s good that our palates are being challenged to try new things, especially with something like green tea that apparently has so many health benefits.

  4. This sounds as if it’s worth trying! I have found out that a blend of Genmaicha is available from the tea company that we order from, so I will try and get some next time we place an order. It might make a nice change from the usual fruity/spicy tea that I drink. I do love the illustrations that you choose to accompany your text! Assistant No. 1 looks lovely and cosy – I hope she has no real need of a hot water bottle? – but I am distressed by the suspicion that Delightful Assistant No. 2 might have been replaced by a sheep. This would be an unwelcome situation for all concerned. While I’m waiting for reassurance, I’m going to content myself with looking at your lovely scone (and the chocolate, of course)!

    • I hope you like the tea, Jo. The only thing to watch for might be the caffeine in green tea, but on the plus side it’s apparently packed full of antioxidants and generally jolly good for you. Delightful assistant no.1 has been benefitting from the warming effects of a hot water bottle because of joint pain, and I often use a hot water bottle for my back, it’s so very comforting. As for her spouse having been replaced by a sheep, I hadn’t thought of it like that but you’re right that it would be, in many ways, an unwelcome situation. I can reassure you, however, that he is still occupying his assistant position, and the sheep is a temporary stand-in to demonstrate sunshine on shoulders.

      • That’s good to know, Lorna! I do hope that your Mum manages to get some relief from her joint pain. I can only imagine what that must be like. As for the caffeine, I am not cutting it out altogether – I need ordinary tea with milk, way too much for that – but I’m not drinking a lot of it (or coffee). So I will look out for Genmaicha and give it a try. It would be so good to feel the sun – sadly we’re back to rain and wind this morning. What’s happened to the spring? It’s nearly May!

        • Thank you, Jo, my mum is slowly improving but she has arthritis, which can be quite a debilitating condition. The medical advice is to exercise, but since she recently tore ligaments exercise is too painful, which is why her arthritis is worse at the moment, I think. However, plenty of soothing tea and hot water bottles seem to be helping. I sometimes feel I should cut down on caffeine because if I go too long without it I get horrendous headaches, but I’ve gradually reduced the amount of caffeinated tea I drink and, like you, I wouldn’t want to cut it out altogether. As for spring, it’s getting beyond a joke now!

  5. Genmaicha! I’ve had it! I like it! I had no idea it was also called popcorn tea – or that it had those little toasted rice deals in it. (hehe, Sugar Puffs)

    • Hurrah! I’m glad you like it. It doesn’t always have those little toasted rice deals in it, I think that’s a peculiarity of the Teapigs version, but a very nice addition all the same. Not everyone agrees on the Sugar Puffs point, but I think there’s definitely a sort of ghostly hint of them rather than the full on honey taste.

  6. What on earth is wrong with ordinary tea I find myself asking? Or do you have a contract with Twinings now?

    • Tchah! A contract with Twinings indeed, they didn’t even respond to my offer to proofread their packaging. Victoria Coren would nod in agreement when reading your comment, I’m sure. I saw an episode of Room 101 in which she wanted to put all teas other than ‘normal tea’ into the room.

  7. I start every day with a cup of green tea. I love all the varieties. I am now going to search out popcorn tea as it sounds delicious. Right now I am sipping a cup of Mojito Mint green tea. So refreshing. The walnut and maple scone looks heavenly. Have a wonderful weekend!!

    • It sounds as if you’re quite a connoisseur of green tea! I must admit, I don’t drink it all that often, but I feel that with a bit more effort I could find other varieities I like. I haven’t tried a mint one, but if I see that somewhere I might well give it a go. There’s nothing quite like a scone to beef out a cup of tea. Have a great weekend yourself! :-)

  8. I still have not seen this tea anywhere. And, thanks to your mention of your Japanese flatmate buying it in plain packaging, it is now blindingly obvious where I have been going wrong! (I had been thinking chiccy boutiquey!) I keep imagining, from your descriptions, what it must taste like, and after this post am twice as keen to try it as I was before. Off to all the local Asian supermarkets on Monday!

    • You were in my mind when I was writing this post, and I’m delighted to hear that you’re going to check out your local Asian supermarket for this tea. I’ve seen it in a few such places now, and I don’t think I would have picked it up had I not been educated by my flatmate. It’s ages since I went to such a shop, as there aren’t any where I live, but next time I’m in a city I’ll try and pop into one. They always seem so exotic to me. Happy shopping! :-)

  9. Popcorn tea is genmaicha? Ah ha! (Now it all falls into place.) I’ve actually eaten a snack in china that is roasted rice bits, popped with a salty/sweet candy. Err… It’s safe to say those snacks were never safe when around me! I think I can see a little of the Scottish sun peeking through that window, I’ve no doubt you’ll be warming up outside soon.

    That’s a definite yes to the genmaicha & popcorn chocolate too :)

    • Ding, a lightbulb goes on! It’s so nice when you get these mini Eureka moments. :-) Those snacks sound very moreish. I wish it was warming up here but, despite a bit of sunshine, the temperature is still low (only about 10 degrees C here today). However, surely it must be going to warm up soon…. I tried the chocolate with the popcorn tea and they went very well together – more about that anon!

  10. Sounds different, I think I would have to try it though. Great post Lorna.

  11. Lorna, you inspired me to pull out my popcorn tea and steep a pot…it enjoy it for an afternoon beverage…mine DOES have a few bits of popped pop corn in it…will post a photo on my blog for you to see…guess it can be made with or without popcorn…there is lots of brown, toasted rice…green tea…and popcorn. What I so enjoy about tea is all the variety…

    • I’m looking forward to seeing your popcorn tea! It sounds very like the one I had, and you make a good point about the attraction of tea in general. As with different types of scone, there’s a tea for every occasion, and tasting the various options is an extremely pleasant hobby.

  12. Very informative :-) Never heard about “popcorn tea” before!!!! Now I have learnt about a unique tea, will have to try someday :-) Thank you Lorna!

  13. Oh….I love popcorn tea…and I think Chinese goes by anther name though. Those puffy rice really gives a nice toasty taste to the tea. hm…now those popcorn chocolate sounds just as wonderful too.

    • A toasty taste, that’s it exactly, it’s warming and toasty. The popcorn chocolate is a bit different from the tea, but quite interesting all the same. Thanks for your comment.

  14. My wife and I are forever experimenting with new teas. This looks really interesting. Good post!

    • Thank you. If you like a bit of variety in your teas, as you obviously do, I would certainly recommend giving this a try; it produces an interesting and very warming sensation.

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