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Japan’s Greatest Culinary Combo: Green Tea With Rice

Nowadays, people put Japanese green tea in almost everything. Just a few of the more unique green tea combos include green tea alcoholic beverages, green tea fudge bars, and, of course, the ever-popular green tea Kit Kats. However, there’s one green tea combination that’s been a standard in Japanese cuisine for centuries. We’re talking about green tea and rice. Although many Westerners might not have heard about this combination, green tea-rice recipes abound in the "Land of the Rising Sun." In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the most popular Japanese green tea-rice recipes, some of which you can cook in your own kitchen. But first, let’s explore the interesting history of an old Japanese standard: brown rice green tea.

The Amazing Myth Behind Brown Rice Green Tea

Brown rice green tea is officially called Genmaicha (Japanese: 玄米茶). Some Japanese believe this tea was invented in the 15th century when a servant named Genmai accidentally spewed brown rice into a samurai’s cup of green tea. The samurai was so angry that Genmai ruined his expensive tea that he instantly chopped the servant’s head off. A few moments later, however, the samurai tried this new blend of tea and was shocked to discover just how delicious it was. Out of remorse for his servant, the samurai ordered his fellow warriors to always drink green tea with brown rice in the morning. He also announced that henceforth green tea with brown rice would be named "Genmaicha" in poor Genmai’s honor.

Although this story may not be factual, the beverage certainly is. Many Japanese historians believe Genmaicha was invented in Kyoto around 90 years ago as an affordable way to give Japan’s peasantry a drink that was very filling. There have also been stories of some Zen monks frequently indulging in Genmaicha between meditation sessions. Be sure to check out the latest Genmaicha brands online and taste this delicious brew for yourselves.

Savor The Popular Japanese Specialty: Ochazuke

One of the most popular Japanese dishes using green tea rice is called Ochazuke (Japanese: お茶漬け). The dish basically consists of green tea, rice, and some kind of topping. Popular toppings include seaweed, salmon, scallions, and sesame seeds, but feel free to experiment if you ever make ochazuke on your own! Historians believe this dish first became popular some time in the Edo period (1603–1868), when Japanese nobility started pouring green tea over their rice. Most Japanese people eat ochazuke either after their main meal or as "comfort food" when they are sick. Ochazuke is supposed to be a light dish, so it wouldn’t be fitting to eat this as a main course.

ochazuke

“Instant Ochazuke,” A Wonderful Midnight Snack

Life is so stressful in most modern Japanese cities. Many people can’t find the time to cook a proper ochazuke using only fresh ingredients. That’s why companies started creating "Instant Ochazuke" packets for sale in various grocery stores. Today, millions of Japanese people purchase these "Instant Ochazuke" packets and enjoy them as a midnight snack. Most "Instant Ochazuke" are packaged with toppings such as seaweed, various herbs, and rice crackers. All customers have to do is get some cooked rice, sprinkle the seasoning over the rice, and pour hot green tea over it all. Most Japanese people always have leftover rice at home, so adding an "Instant Ochazuke" packet is a great way to make a satisfying snack extremely quickly. "Instant Ochazuke" is extremely affordable and easy to make, which is why it’s such a favorite among the super-stressed-out Japanese working class.

Learn The Rich History of Japan’s Favorite Snack: Onigiri

Onigiri

If you’ve ever been to Japan, then you certainly know how popular onigiri (Japanese: お握り) is. Onigiri, which literally means "rice ball," is the ultimate Japanese snack food. Hundreds of street vendors sell thousands of onigiri every day in major Japanese cities. Although we don’t know who first invented these tasty treats, we do know that the Japanese have been consuming something like onigiri for a long time. Believe it or not, archaeologists have discovered what looks like an onigiri from 2,000 years ago! It wasn’t until the Heian period (794–1185), however, that we had the first official records of something like onigiri. At this time, court officials would serve tonjiki (Japanese: 頓食) to servants. These tonjiki were made of white rice and were said to look like an egg. It wasn’t until seaweed became easier to process in the Genroku period (1688–1744) that onigiri became the go-to snack for all Japanese citizens. As the Edo period progressed, onigiri quickly became the most common snack across Japan. As you might expect, there are tons of onigiri that incorporate green tea. In fact, it’s very common to see matcha onigiri sold all over modern-day Japan.

As you can see, the Japanese really have a passion for green tea and rice. There are so many different ways you can enjoy this delectable dish, no matter where you happen to be. Of course, if you ever get a chance to visit Japan for yourselves, you really must try some authentic green tea-rice dishes in the land where it all began. Whether you eat green tea rice at home or in Nihon, you’re sure to enjoy this delicious and nutritious Japanese specialty.

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