Gyokuro: The Glittering Jade-Green Japanese Tea
For many people, green tea is a bitter-flavored tea that can be bought at the local grocery store. For true tea enthusiasts, green tea is a delightful tea that when grown and brewed properly offers an exquisite blend of flavors from seaweed and grass to floral and sweet. For those green tea lovers, gyokuro is the glittering gem of the green tea world. Discover the hidden treasure of gyokuro from its deep green color to its umami flavor and sweet aroma with his guide.
What is Gyokuro?
Gyokuro is one of the highest-grade Japanese green teas and is also known as “jewel dew and jade dew”. The tea is made from specialized types of the Camellia sinensis tea plant including Asahi, Yamakai, and Okumidori.
This type of green tea is a shaded green tea, making it different from the popular sencha green tea and genmaicha green tea, which is grown in full sun. The tea leaves are covered for the final three weeks before harvest. Other shade-grown Japanese teas include matcha and kabusecha.
The shade causes the plants to produce high levels of nutrients and compounds, resulting in a vibrant green-colored leaf and potent health benefits. These nutrients include catechins and amino acids such as l-theanine that have been shown to help boost energy and support heart health (1)(2).
Gyokuro tea leaves are a dark green color that brews into a pale green hue, mimicking the look of a glittering green jewel or chunk of jade. Loose-leaf gyokuro green tea has an umami flavor with notes of seaweed and a gentle, sweet aftertaste. It has very mild notes of astringency and a mineral aftertaste with an aroma that has light grassy and savory notes.
History and Cultivation of Gyokuro
The origin of gyokuro can be traced to the famous Yamamotoyama tea company and the Yamamoto Japanese tea-producing family. In 1835, Kahei Yamamoto VI visited Uji in Kyoto to learn how to make tencha leaves — a type of tea leaf that is shade-grown and used to make other Japanese teas like matcha. During his study, he produced the tea improperly and ended up discovering a new type of tea, which would become known as gyokuro.
Today, the tea is grown in many different provinces including Shizuoka, Kagoshima, and Yame. The tea leaves are covered with large straw mats or black nets for the final 20 days of cultivation before the harvest begins. Once the shading process is complete, the leaves are plucked by hand and steamed immediately to prevent oxidation. The leaves are then rolled, shape, and dried before being packaged for sale.
How to Brew Gyokuro
For the best flavor, use loose leaf tea rather than tea bags. It’s also a good idea to use organic green tea leaves because organic teas don’t contain fertilizer, chemicals, and additives that can alter taste.
- Preheat the teacup and teapot by filling them with hot water, swirling it around for a few seconds and then discarding.
- Bring water to 122 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit using a temperature-controlled teapot. For the highest quality gyokuro, it’s best to brew at a water temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use 2 teaspoons of Gyokuro tea leaves for every 8 ounces of water. Add the tea to a tea strainer and place it in a teacup.
- Pour the hot water into the cup and steep for 90 seconds. After the first infusion, extend the steeping time for each additional infusion by 30 seconds.
- Remove the tea strainer and enjoy it as-is.
Gyokuro: The Tea That’ll Make Your Friends Green With Envy
Gyokuro is a delicious green tea that will entice the taste buds of tea lovers everywhere. It’s a high-quality tea that is hand-crafted with a focus on exquisite color and flavor. The beautiful jade green hue adds a visual dimension to tea enjoyment and the unique blend of umami and sweet flavor makes it a real treat.