Everyone is looking to get healthy while still enjoying interesting foods and drinks. This is one of the reasons why green tea and its many variations have grown in popularity these days. One type of tea that is made of green tea leaves that has recently begun to gain more notice is the Gyokuro tea. It is considered to be the most luxurious and, therefore, expensive tea, making it highly coveted among aficionados. Whether you know about this tea type or whether you are brand new to it, we have some of the most surprising facts about Gyokuro (玉露茶).
Since the leaves are covered for such a long period of time throughout the cultivation process, the tea leaves are dark, creating a dark tea that is almost mossy green. Its richness in color translates to a richness in taste as well, with layers of flavors that never overpower one another.
Gyokuro is unique for several reasons. Most green tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, and gyokuro is no different. However, gyokuro has a distinct dark green look. It is noticeably darker than sencha, for example.
For approximately three weeks or more before plucking, tea plants are covered to prevent the vast majority of sunlight from reaching their leaves. Blocking the sunlight changes the biochemical composition of the plants. Theanine moves from the root to the stem and leaves of the plant. Catechins normally neutralize the bitterness that comes from theanine via sunlight; however, in gyokuro, the theanine remains with its subsequent bitterness. Blocking the sunshine also produces dimethyl sulfite, which cements the smell of seaweed found in gyokuro.
Lastly, gyokuro's color, as noted above, is particularly dark. It is because chlorophyll, which is normally limited by sunlight, is allowed to flourish as the tea plants are shaded.
Generally speaking, you'll find major spots of gyokuro plantations in Shizuoka, Uji, or Yame, south of Fukuoka, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. While Uji is where gyokuro started in the 19th century, there are plenty of sights in the major tea areas in Japan. 40% of Japan's gyokuro production is in Yame, Fukuoka. (See my other article, Where Different Types of Japanese Tea are Grown.)
Gyokuro holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many tea lovers. It is bold in flavor, unique in design, and premium in the world of teas. Its traditional connection with the development of Japan also buttresses its name as a tea of perfection. As it continues to be grown in Kyoto and parts of Kyushu, bringing the benefits of gyokuro to you would be our joy, whether it be the numerous health benefits or the sweet flavors within.
Gyokuro Tea is the most expensive and special tea from Japan that is brewed with special care and processing. It is a tea that needs to be savored rather than quenched. That is why you need to prepare it carefully and with the right tea set. Gyokuro tea is quite challenging to brew, and to enjoy it at its fullest potential, you need the following elements:
Gyokuro tea is a luxury tea in Japan, but you will find many brands, from high-priced to cheap. The lower-priced tea is inferior in quality, and no matter if you have the right tea set or know the process, you cannot have the best brewing. Therefore, it is important to carefully pick the best brand and quality because you don't want to miss out on the great experience and taste.
Just like Gyokuro tea is special, the teapot in which you brew it is also specially made. Although you can brew it in any teapot you have, the correct set enhances your experience to the fullest. The tea set consists of four pieces of chinaware, i.e., Hohin, Yuzamashi, and Gyokuro teacups.
Hohin (宝品 aka 方瓶) is a teapot that has a unique design and is made for brewing gyokuro tea. Unlike other teapots, it does not have a handle, so you hold it in your hand. The reason behind it is that, while preparing for tea, if the teapot is comfortably warm enough to hold in your hand, then it is at the perfect temperature for brewing tea. In this way, hohin plays the role of a teapot and thermometer.
Yuzamashi, in terms of shape, looks a lot like a regular Japanese teapot but without a lid. As gyokuro tea needs to be brewed at a specific temperature, the yuzamashi helps regulate and set the perfect temperature of the water. Therefore, with the perfect temperature, you will be able to achieve the optimal color, aroma, and flavor.
Next come the gyokuro teacups, which are much smaller than regular teacups. These are perfect sizes for gyokuro tea serving because you do not drink it like other teas. Moreover, these also come in handy when you have to cool down the temperature of the water while brewing tea.
Now that you know the importance of choosing the right set and ingredients for brewing tea, let's make it. First, you need to prepare the ingredients. Make sure you have:
There are a few more things that you need to consider and carefully examine while making tea because any changes in these will affect the taste, aroma, and color. Such as tea leaf weight, water volume and temperature, and lastly, steeping time. People brew it in various ways and with different formulas, which result in variant flavors and aromas. However, the ideal procedure is that you get
You can enjoy gyokuro tea three times with the same tea leaves you used in the first brewing. Just add 50 degrees of water and let it seep for 60 seconds before pouring the second brewing tea. As for the third brew, keep the leaves and the same volume, but raise the temperature to 60 degrees and the time to 120 seconds. Each time you will have a rich flavor, and especially the third time, it will surprise you with a bitter and seaweed aroma.
Part of above article is one of the chapters in my book Green Tea Mania : 250+ Green Tea Facts, Cooking and Brewing Tips & Trivia You (Probably) Didn’t Know
This article was originally published on T-Ching where my article is featured.
If you have ever thought that Green Tea is an “acquired taste” or that it is “too bitter” to enjoy, we’re here to change your mind! We want everyone to experience the health benefits of Green Tea and show you that this can be an amazing, refreshing, and delicious drink when made correctly. With just a few tips on how to brew this powerful leaf we can change your mind about the taste and enjoyment of drinking Green Tea.
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