So, let's talk tea. I am a diehard fan of hot drinks, but fickle in my preferences. My morning cup of builder's tea is a given, but at work, I drink coffee. Apart from at teatime, when it's tea, or after about seven in the evening, when it's got to be herbal or I turn into the energizer bunny and am totally unable to sleep.
You can imagine what our beverage cupboard looks like, can't you? But there's always space for one more. And this one arrived as a christmas pressie from my sister-in-law (who understands and shares my fickle choices).
I hadn't come across teapigs before, but as soon as I peeked inside the box, I was smitten by the gorgeous little silken pyramids the tea comes swathed in. They call them 'tea temples' - I was already partly won over. But it was when I put the temple in the cup and poured on the water that I really fell in love.
See, the tea Tess had chosen for me was Popcorn Tea, or Genmaicha. And as soon as I smelt it, I was back in Japan. In the little traditional restaurant round the corner from my office where I would eat about 3 times a week. And drink their wonderful tea.
Genmaicha is green tea, mixed with toasted brown rice, which gives it a nutty smell and undertone. It's nickname, popcorn tea, comes about because during the toasting process, some of the rice grains pop and resemble popcorn. And like many good things, Genmaicha has a back story.
The legend goes that the tea was invented by accident when the servant of a samurai dropped rice into his master's tea. Infuriated by the contamination, the samurai killed the servant but drank the tea anyway, and was delighted by the unusual flavor. He honoured the servant by giving the tea his name, Genmai.
Nice story, but I have my doubts. Mostly because genmai also means brown rice, but hey, it's churlish to doubt a good story isn't it? The tea probably has its origins in frugal Japanese housewives, who added toasted rice to their tea supplies to stretch them, as rice is much cheaper than green tea.
And frugality is a factor, because the Genmaicha from Teapigs costs the earth. So I've been on the lookout for an alternative. I tried Dr Stuarts Genmaicha, but it's not made with tea leaves (more tea dust) and tastes too muddy. I was disappointed, because I love their Tranquility as my evening herbal tea.
And then I was at Daylesford with Monica and saw this.
But I can't tell you about the comparative taste yet, because I am finishing off the other stuff first. It looks promising though. And it'd look even better if I had one of those glass teapots I've been coveting.
Because tea-time really ought to be a bit of an occasion, neh? What's your tea ritual?