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Japan's Exquisite Tea: Gyokuro

Posted by Path of Cha on

 

A young monk once asked the wise tea master Lao Cha:
— Sensei, how can we make green tea not only to be fresh and healthy but also delicately sweet?
— In the early Spring, when the tea bushes start to wake up from their long Winter sleep, and the first tea leaves just begin to appear, make sure to shade them from the sun. Then the roots will start extracting more valuable nutrients from the soil to feed the leaves. The tea made from these very leaves will be gentle and sweet. This tea will be worthy of the Gods. You will call it Gyokuro.

 

f you are a fan of Japanese teas you’ve probably heard, tried, or been recommended to try Gyokuro. So what makes Gyokuro so special?

I must make a confession: incidentally, Gyokuro was the first Japanese tea I’ve ever tried. This was many years back. I went into a tea shop, asked for the staffs’ recommendation and whether I could smell a few different varieties.

After getting a whiff of Gyokuro I had to look no further to what tea I would be trying that day... 


What Is Gyokuro?


Gyokuro is a shaded green tea cultivated in Japan. Gyokuro is shaded for approximately three weeks under special straw mats. In Japan, everyone knows Gyokuro for its exquisite taste. It is indeed a luxury product that is often reserved for special occasions.



What Is The Difference Between Sencha and Gyokuro?


One of the most significant differences from sencha is that Gyokuro is grown under the shade rather than the sun. Furthermore, different cultivars are often used in producing these teas, meaning they come from different tea bush varieties.


What Are The Health Benefits Of Drinking Gyokuro?


Gyokuro has similar health benefits to other types of loose leaf teas. However, thanks to its production methods, the finished product results in a considerably higher amount of catechins and theanine, which provide the body with beneficial amino acids. It also contains a slightly higher percent of caffeine than sencha. Overall drinking Gyokuro will leave you feeling uplifted, refreshed, and energized.

 


How To Brew Gyokuro:


To brew Gyokuro you will need:

  • ideally a kyusu teapot (or any other brewing vessel of choice)
  • 1 gram of gyokuro tea leaves per 30 ml quality water heated to 135-145℉ (55-65℃)

 

The first steep is 2 mins, followed by 30 seconds for further infusions. After the first infusion water can be heated up to 165ºF (75ºC). Gyokuro tea can be steeped at least 3 times. 


If you are drinking in the company of a friend try alternating the pour between teacups, so everyone will have an equal tasting brew. 

Traditionally Gyokuro is enjoyed in small quantities since the brew is always potent with flavor. Try it and see for yourself!



What Does Gyokuro Taste Like?


The feel of Gyokuro is very full-bodied, with a taste reminiscent to seaweed and grasses, followed by an intense sweetness. Strong umami is one of the keywords to describe a good Gyokuro.

 

Gyokuro is one of our favorite Japanese teas, and one of our favorite teas overall. Its exquisite taste is just one of the reasons why we wholeheartedly recommend this tea as a gift for loved ones and friends. 

 


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