GYOKURO: UNCOVER THE PRINCE OF TEAS
Gyokuro was first developed in the 1850s by the Yamamotoyama Tea Company and quickly gained a reputation as a tea reserved for special occasions - with a price to match its elite status.
Nowadays it’s far more reasonably priced, but because of the complicated process of growing, harvesting, and then readying for the pot, it still commands higher prices than most green teas. Taste it, though and you’ll agree it’s worth every penny.
Our Gyokuro Tea is a premium organic, produced in small batches each month to ensure freshness and long shelf-life. Our blends are created for us by the winner of the 46th Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Tea Competition (2016) - the most prestigious tea competition in Japan.
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT GYOKURO?
Although there’s literally a big cover-up when it comes to Gyokuro - which translates as “dew of jade” - there’s no secret to how it’s produced.
Harvested in Spring, the tea plants are covered over, shaded from the sun, for 20 days prior to picking. It’s a cultivation method known as hifuku saibai and Matcha tea undergoes the same process - the difference being that Matcha is separated from its stems before being ground to a fine powder. Gyokuro leaves are left intact and, when you come to make a pot of it, are steeped in water rather than mixed and whisked like Matcha.
Different growers have different methods of shielding their plants from the sun prior to harvesting but all allow for plenty of air to circulate among the bushes.
Some farmers put their plants to bed under blankets of straw matting and nets that, from a distance, look like huge snakes slithering across the tea estates. Other tea growers erect huge, low-standing marquees of woven bamboo to keep as much sun out as possible.
The object of sending the plants into a semi-hibernation is the same, though.
Reducing the caress of the sun on the plants by 90% means they photosynthesize at an extremely slow rate, almost hypnotizing the plants into a pond doze. This influences their growth and massively impacts the taste, aroma, and color of the resulting Gyokuro tea.
The shading and the organic fertilizers used in the soil also help the leaves store up an amino acid called L-thiamine and also increase the caffeine content in the leaves.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GYOKURO
Because it’s naturally packed with Vitamin C, an early morning cup of Gyokuro means you’re already off to a great start. But those high doses of L-thiamine - larger than any other green teas - are hugely beneficial according to researchers and tea-drinkers alike.
L-thiamine is known to gently even out our moods and works with the caffeine to banish fatigue (without that triple espresso buzz and crash!) and aid digestion. There’s also lots of current research into how ingesting it via Gyokuro might help prevent heart disease and - but please remember this is still being researched - some cancers.
L-thiamine has another gift for Gyokuro drinkers too...
WHY GYOKURO WILL TAKE YOUR TASTEBUDS BY SURPRISE
A HINT OF THE SEA
As the tea continues to grow under the shading of the sheets it begins to develop a very light, but unforgettable, scent that’s not unlike seaweed or the smell of the beach.
In Japan, it’s known as the ‘covering aroma’ - hifuku kaori or ooi kaori - and it’s kind of an olfactory calling card that proves on opening the packet and taking a sniff, that the tea you’ve bought is authentically shade-grown.
What you’re smelling is actually the chemical dimethyl sulfide which, in large quantities, can be overpowering. Thankfully Gyokuro’s perfume is just a subtle hint and unusually pleasant for it.
HOW DO I MAKE THE PERFECT POT OF GYOKURO TEA?
The following should make enough tea for three peopleUse freshly boiled water, but let it cool in a bowl to around 40 - 60 degrees Celsius (about 140 Fahrenheit) before use. Gyokuro doesn’t respond well to boiling water and lots of the flavor will be lost if you’re in a rush to infuse the tea as well as being quite bitter.
While you wait for the water to cool place two tablespoons (6g) of gyokuro leaves into your teapot. There is no perfect brewing method and everyone has a slightly different take on it. However, Gyokuro is generally brewed with more leaf, less water, and for a longer period of time at a lower temperature.
Gyokuro packs a wonderfully powerful punch again and again - you should easily be able to make up to three infusions from the leaves.
When the water is to temperature gently pour it into the teapot - you only need enough to just cover the leaves completely.
Now let the tea brew for three minutes and then serve.
When it comes to making new infusions from the leaves make sure your water is a little hotter than the first brew and let them steep for a minute or so longer - that way you can tempt a further blast of flavors and aromas still clinging on in the leaves.