Today's tea comes from the mad scientists at M&K's Tea Company, specifically their Kuromaicha! If you are wondering what that is, it is a blend of Toasted Black Rice, Kyobancha, and Hojicha, this is a toasted tea lover's dream, or at least my dream, because I am always wanting to see people make blends with Hojicha and Kyobancha, they are just such awesome teas that never get used. You all know me, I get excited when I see unusual blends, and that is how I first discovered M&K's Tea Company, it is a bit of their specialty. So, does it smell toasty? Yes, yes it does, it is like a campfire with notes of marshmallow, toasted bread, toasted corn, loam, and a slight umami note from the toasted rice. Yes, it is rather fascinating, the black rice is not as sweet as the rice you get in the usual genmaicha, it has a savory note more similar to Basmati rice.
I decided to use my neglected pseudo-houhin for this one, the poor thing does not get enough love. Brewing the leaves fills my little tea area with an intense toasty aroma, like someone is toasting rice over a campfire next to me, it makes me feel warm and relaxed. The aroma of the soggy leaf pile (that looks like a leaf pile, Kyobancha is such a 'pile of mulch' tea) is sweet, with notes of marshmallow and freshly toasted corn and bread. After that is a finish of toasted rice and loam, with a lingering toasty note. The liquid is sweet, smoky, and loamy, just like an autumn campfire!
Ok, clearly someone took the essence of autumn and distilled it down into a cup of tea! It is loamy, toasty, smoky, grainy, and sweet, all in one! It is not as sweet as Kyobancha on its own, but it does still have the toasted marshmallow and loamy notes, but now they are mixed with toasted bread and rice, and a nice finish of smoke. It reminds me of eating rice crackers (not the seaweed ones, but the more Gluten Free alternate to crackers, ones) while drinking a toasty cup of more savory Kyobancha. This tea pleases me on a taste level and a feeling level, since it reminds me so much of my favorite parts of autumn.