If you like Japanese teas, chances are you’ve heard of gyokuro.
It’s the most expensive type of Japanese loose leaf tea.
Gyokuro leaves are dark green, very thin and shiny. It’s not difficult to tell the difference between sencha (the most popular Japanese green tea) just by looking at the leaves, and even easier to distinguish their taste.
When you try gyokuro you’ll notice an intense taste that you won’t find in any other green tea, it is very rich and even brothy. In addition, gyokuro can be resteeped more times than other Japanese teas.
How is gyokuro cultivated?
The tea leaves are shaded for about 20 days before harvest, which lowers the rate of photosynthesis and thus there is a marked chemical change in the leaves. The result is a higher L-theanine content, an amino acid responsible for it’s characteristic taste.
Once picked, the leaves are processed in a similar manner as sencha and other Japanese teas. That is, the leaves are steamed, dried and rolled.
Here is a post by the Tea Docents on how great gyokuro is made. Making of great Gyokuro
The most famous regions for gyokuro production in Japan are Uji in Kyoto prefecture, Yame in Fukuoka prefecture, and Shizuoka prefecture.
Use 4 grams per person and very small cups, about 2-3 oz because gyokuro is meant to be drank in a concentrated brew.
Use water at 140F, any higher than that and your gyokuro will become bitter. Steep for 2 minutes before serving.
Gyokuro production in Japan is very limited, a year’s production won’t be enough for Japan’s whole population to drink. That’s part of the reason that it is expensive, the Japanese will only drink it in special occasions. It’s definitely not your everyday tea.
Unfortunately, imitation gyokuro is made at a large scale in China. Take care to buy from a trusted vendor.
Are you ready for one of the most refined green teas in the world?