A young monk once asked the wise tea master Lao Cha:
— Sensei, how can we make green tea not only 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 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.
Gyokuro is rightfully regarded as the highest grade of Japanese tea. It is made only with the first flush leaves — the tea's unique processing results in a sweet, mild flavor and fresh, flowery-green aroma. Gyokuro tea bushes are shaded from direct sunlight for 20 days before harvesting. That step makes the tea plant stack on theanine. It is an amino acid that gives Gyokuro tea leaves their sweetness. Afterward, the leaves are immediately steamed, dried, and carefully rolled into distinctive shapes resembling pine needles.
Our Dento Hon Gyokuro of Saemidori cultivar comes from Yame, Fukuoka prefecture. It is amazingly sweet, extremely rich in umami, and contains plenty of caffeine. This rare tea is hand-picked from the sweet Sae Midori cultivar at the end of May. Its scent is refreshing, with next to no bitterness. However, what makes it stand apart is its incredible umami that will leave a round and rich feeling on your palate. After the first, more delicate brew at low temperatures, the leaves can be easily brewed up to three times, like a sencha. Packed with caffeine and beautiful light gold color, you can enjoy this premium tea in the late morning or early afternoon for an incredible energy boost. An extraordinary example of the excellency of Yame tea masters and one of the jewels of Koga Cha Gyo.
Shaded tea bushes
The best plantations in Fukuoka prefecture are indeed in the Yame area. Morning mists and river fogs are very frequent. Curtains of fog wrap green tea plantations, properly blocking sunlight. It makes the tea leaves more tender and sweeter. In addition, Yame enjoys a vast temperature difference from day to night.
This craft tea can be rebrewed up to 5 times. For best results, try rebrewing with only a few seconds. Flash infusions will help the tea leaves gently reveal their tender sweetness and plentiful umami notes without being overpowered by bitterness.
135-145℉ / 55-65℃ for the first infusion; 170ºF / 75ºC for subsequent infusions
1g per 30ml
2 min for the first infusion; then 30-45 sec for subsequent infusions or 2 min for the first infusion; then flush infusions, a few seconds each.