One day a samurai, in the fifteenth century, while studying a plan of attack with his troops, was sipping his tea. One of his servants, named Genmai, clumsily dropped a few grains of roasted rice from his sleeve into his cup.
Rice, which he had put up his sleeve as a snack to munch on during the day, proved to be a blessing for many generations of tea lovers, but not so for poor Genmai.
In a sudden rage over the “ruin” of his beloved tea (which was an expensive luxury at the time) he grabbed his katana (sword) and decapitated the poor servant.
Ignoring the blood and the corpse, he sat back down at the table and proceeded to drink his tea. To his surprise, he discovered that the rice had transformed the tea and – rather than ruining it – had given the tea a far superior flavor to pure tea.
To honor his servant, the repentant samurai named the tea after him: Genmai-cha (literally Genmai’s tea).
Much more likely, people who lived far from the plantations had the habit of “cutting” tea with rice to prolong supplies.
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