Genmaicha is a unique type of tea that was first consumed in Japan and is still at its most popular there, but is also now available all over the world, from the United States to right her in the United Kingdom. But is Genmaicha tea, also known as popcorn tea, good for you, and if so, what are the health benefits?
What is Genmaicha Tea?
This is a type of tea that is made with Japanese green tea (such as sencha tea) and rice kernels that have been popped.
It is from these popped kernels that this tea gets its English name “Popcorn Tea”. But there is more to it than that as this tea actually has a bit of a popcorn taste. Maybe not the buttered, sweet popcorn that you make at home or the stale, tasteless stuff you get at the movie theater, but it is definitely reminiscent of a savory, slightly salty popcorn.
Brown rice kernels are often used to give this tea a nuttier taste, but they were first added to green tea as a way of bulking the tea out, basically adulterating it intentionally so that the tea would go further and last longer.
It might not make much sense now, but in a culture that is obsessed with tea and at a time when tea is very expensive and money is tight, it makes perfect sense. The Japanese, just like the British, clearly couldn’t bear to go without tea, so they created an alternative.
You have to commend them for that, and in this case they managed to create something that actually tastes good and still has a place on a modern tea drinker’s table.
Genmaicha Tea vs Green Tea
No matter what anyone tells you, popcorn tea is not better for you than pure green tea. There is nothing in brown rice kernels that will provide you with any notable health benefits. And there is definitely nothing in this tea that can make up for the antioxidants you lose when you replace green tea with these popped kernels.
Of course, you’re still getting a healthy drink overall. Green tea is very good for you in any form, but if you’re drinking tea for its health benefits and you have choice between green tea and Genmaicha tea, then you should opt for the former.
Even if you are short on money it wouldn’t make much sense to choose popcorn tea instead. There are many great, potent green teas out there that can provide you with a huge dose of healthy antioxidants and cost you the same, or similar, to a batch of Genmaicha tea. Because unless you’re in feudal Japan then these teas are more or less the same price.
In fact, the Genmaicha tea that we have seen for sale in the United Kingdom tends to be more expensive than many quality green teas. This is down to the novelty factor, as well as the fact that Genmaicha tea, like regular Japanese tea, needs to be imported, and because there is less demand for it it’s imported in smaller quantities, leading to higher prices for the consumer.
Comparing Genmaicha tea to green tea is like comparing green tea to matcha tea in that it is still healthy, but perhaps not as potent and therefore not as healthy as the alternative.
Benefits of Drinking Genmaicha Tea
There is a good chance we have put you off drinking popcorn tea for good after our previous comments on Genmaicha vs green tea. But even if you’re going to stick to green tea or matcha tea, we would sill recommend at least trying this tea out, especially if you’re a tea lover.
And if you do then you will still benefit in a number of ways because while it’s not as potent as pure green tea, it still contains aren tea and is therefore still beneficial.
1. It May Help to Prevent Cancer
We have previously written about green tea and cancer, pointing out the many promising studies that have been done on this tea in the name of cancer treatment and prevention.
More research needs to be done, but there are several takeaways here.
Firstly, it is loaded with antioxidants (Genmaicha tea as well as green tea) and we know that a diet rich in antioxidants can drastically reduce a person’s chance of getting cancer.
Secondly, it contains a unique antioxidant known as EGCG, which has many amazing properties and may help to fight cancer cells directly. Thirdly, correlations have been found between high consumption of green teas and low rates of cancer.
Genmaicha tea may not be as potent as pure green tea, but it’s not that far off and it still possesses all of these amazing cancer-fighting properties.
2. Weight Loss
Genmaicha tea may help to increase your metabolism, which in turn can help you to expend more energy over the course of the day. And the more calories you burn, the greater your rate of weight loss will be.
There are many ways why popcorn tea may help in this regard, including appetite suppression (in this regard it may actually be better than pure green tea), improved metabolism and its caffeine content.
3. Improves Brain Health
Regular consumption of green teas have shown to provide a number of mental health benefits, from reducing anxiety and stress, to aiding with daytime relaxation and reducing the long-term risk of psychological and neurological conditions.
Some of the studies that have been conducted on this subject could be at risk of correlation vs causation, which is to say that just because there are lower rates of these conditions in tea drinking communities doesn’t mean that the tea is directly responsible.
However, we know that caffeine consumption can improve focus; we know that theanine can help promote feelings of relaxation; and we know that potent antioxidants as found in green tea can help prevent many chronic diseases.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
Popcorn tea consumption may also help to reduce hypertension, bringing your blood pressure under control and improving your overall cardiovascular health as a result.
This can have a knock-on effect that may benefit everything from cholesterol levels to the risk of strokes, heart attacks and more. Keep your blood and your heart healthy and everything else will fall in line.