Gyokuro is the most famous and expensive of the Japanese green teas. Because it is shade grown and protected from the sun more than any other Japanese tea, it has incredible deep, dark, green leaves full of chlorophyll that produce a cup that is sweet, slight seaweed, and magically fresh tasting. The mellow, sweet, fresh taste is a special treat for those who know and love green tea. This year we got the tea leaves grown in Shizuoka along the Pacific Coast, and its probably the sweetest Gyokuro we've ever tasted with no astringency.
The leaf is characterized by its dark green coloration, and when steeped, produces a bright green liquor of sweet, very fresh, clean taste. It has a grassy, slightly salty character, but it is not as grassy or vegetal as many similarly expensive green teas. The sweetness and unami notes of the tea are the show stoppers. The leaves are finely cut and swirl around as they steep up into beautifully bright neon green colored water.
The mouth-feel is buttery smooth, and there are floral and citrus notes to the aroma, even hints of pear and apple in the sweetness. Its like drinking Springtime. Chlorophyll. Life. Freshness. It leaves a clean taste in your mouth. The leaves can be successfully steeped up to 4 times. This tea is rare and hard to source outside of Japan; and even within Japan it is a rare treat for special occasions.
Gyokuro is prepared differently from other green teas. To appreciate this tea, do not oversteep, and do not use too hot of water. In our tastings, we tend to use 140 degree water with this tea, and steep for just 2 minutes on the first steeping. (This is the standard method for steeping this tea). It both protects it from bitterness, but also, it is better enjoyed at the lower temperatures since you taste more of the subtleties at the 130-140 degree temperature. From a personal standpoint, Gyokuro is my favorite mug of green tea.
Tasting Notes: Buttery, Seaweed, Sweet, Unami
Steep: 1 Tbsp of tea for 12oz water. Water temperature: 140. Steep time 2 minutes. Subsequent steepings, 1 minute. Sweetener: No!!
Approximately 5 Tbsp in a 1 ounce package.