My favorite part of the food section every week in the Chronicle is Taster's Choice, where they compare broadly available products for quality. This week, stepping a bit out of the box, they compare brands of genmai cha, green tea with toasted rice kernels. Genmai happens to be my favorite tea, with the possible exception of lapsang souchong, although for entirely different reasons. I like green tea generally, but the addition of the toasted rice rounds out the grassy, astringent notes and makes it more balanced and satisfying.
Because the rice sometimes pops in the toasting process, making little white puffs, a friend of mine refers to it as popcorn tea, and the comparison is apt both in appearance and flavor.
The Chron picks Shirakiku. I guess I have a trip to 99 Ranch in my near future.