Genmaicha is toasted brown rice and whole Japanese green tea leaves, prepared as a tea, says gibberisimo. Genmaicha is cheap, because the whole point is to have it with food: “The nutty, toasty flavor goes perfect with sushi or other light savory and sweet foods.”
The addition of matcha (fine powdered green tea) gives genmaicha some added sweetness and body, and makes it drinkable on its own. This is known as matcha-iri-genmaicha, and the kind served at a quality Japanese restaurant is “really, really good with some complex but subtle flavors and a gorgeous toastiness,” says Cinnamon.
But the stuff that has matcha mixed in is “a much higher grade … than just regular genmaicha,” says gibberisimo. “Basically if you just like the roasted rice flavor, get the cheapest you can find.” To find decent genmaicha at a Japanese store, take a look at the leaves (if the packaging allows you to). “In general large tea leaves and bits of stem are an indication of cheaper tea,” says paulj, which may have a less delicate taste.