A tea that blends the flavors of Japan and India together may seem a tad unlikely, but these two tea-loving countries have a long history of friendship, so it’s a natural fit! Cultural exchange between Japan and India started sometime during the 6th Century when Indian Buddhism was brought to Japan by traveling monks. Although Japan’s native religion was Shintoism, Buddhism gained a strong foothold in the country and helped forge a bond with India that has lasted for centuries.One of the friendlier gestures between the two over the years was a gift of two Indian elephants to the Ueno zoo in central Tokyo. The elephants were sent to Japan in 1949 by Indian president Jawaharlal Nehru. The gift helped bring some levity to the lives of the Japanese who were still reeling after the effects of WWII. The elephants lived for many years in the zoo and were visited by millions. Following the war, India was also the co-signer of one of Japan’s first post war peace treaties and helped usher in a new era of diplomatic relations. (Interestingly, if you visit Japan today, the influence of India can be found in any diner. Curry is as much a diner staple there as bacon and eggs are in the West!)So you see, blending Genmaicha with Chai is not such an odd notion after all. Once you brew a pot for yourself you’ll wonder why you questioned it at all. The tea blends the light character of Genmaicha with the exotic spiciness of chai. The resulting cup is the kind you want to gulp down as quickly as you can so you can have another. As you tip it back, your tongue is greeted by toasty notes of puffed rice punctuated by the hot sweetness of ginger, taste bud tempting cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and a long peppery finish. A fabulous cup deserving of its own bi-national tea anthem!