We first encountered genmai tea while in Thailand. We didn't know what "genmai" meant, but we did know it tasted delicious! A quick websearch turned up more info about genmai tea. Genmai tea (or genmaicha) is the Japanese name for green tea combined with roasted brown rice. Traditionally, genmai tea was consumed by the poor, since tea is expensive and rice is cheap. Adding rice to the tea allowed more tea to be squeezed from the same tea leaves.
Roasting the rice gives it an additional nutty flavor. When roasting the rice you'll need to stir/move the rice around so it doesn't burn, I think the stove will be more efficient than an oven, especially since the rice should be roasted in approximately 5 minutes or less. Some kernels will pop during roasting - totally normal. The popping rice is also why this tea is also referred to as "popcorn tea."
Today, genmai tea is consumed by all socioeconomic groups. As you can probably tell from the light yellowish brown hue, genmai tea has a mild flavor. It combines the fresh leafy flavor of green tea with a bit of mellow nuttiness from the roasted brown rice, making for an overall satisfying taste. This tea is perfect for someone seeking a substantial, yet light flavored green tea.
We only "discovered" genmai tea during our last week in Thailand, and on our last day in Thailand, the price of our usual genmai tea increased - I like to say that it's because we increased the demand for this tea so much they raised the price! :) Upon returning, I knew I wanted to make some genmai tea, and fortunately, it is quite simple to make! Just roast some brown rice, and you're ready to brew your tea as usual! Depending on how strong you like your tea and how much green tea or roasted brown rice flavor you like, you can mix your own blend. You can also brew the roasted brown rice first so it will brew for longer if a stronger genmai flavor is desired.