Gyokuro has been a treasure in Japanese culture for hundreds of years. Not only has it been a staple in Japan, but tea lovers everywhere enjoy this brew. It can be referred to as Jade Dew in English cultures.
What is Gyokuro?
Gyokuro is a green tea that is grown from Yabukita. It is a small leaf that has a sweet flavor. It is one of Japan’s highest quality teas. The way in which the tea is cultivated and processed is what makes it so special. The tea is made only from the buds of the spring harvest.
Farmers plant the leaf under the cover of shade for 20 days before harvesting takes place. Usually the shade is made from reeds or straw screens. Since the leaves do not receive as much sun, it prohibits the process of photosynthesis. Because the leaves do not go through this process the way plants normally would, this results in a sweeter leaf. Also, it makes the flavor lighter and less astringent.
The harvesting process is intricate and requires strict control. Once leaves are picked,they are steamed to prevent oxidation. The leaves are air-dried before the final process.
What is the best way to brew it?
This very special tea needs to be brewed more carefully than most other teas. If you were to brew it the way you would any other tea, it would taste fine, but it wouldn’t have the flavor found in a traditionally prepared cup of Japanese Gyokuro.
One of the most important aspects of the process is heating the water to the proper temperature. Water should be heated between 122-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is lower than the temperature of water you would use typically. To heat the water to this point, you will need to do the following:
- After the water is heated to about 167 degrees, ;pour the water into a container that will allow it to cool. In Japan, they would use a yuzamashi. The water needs to sit for a minute or two.
- Once the water has been allowed to sit, pour the water into the teacups that you will drink from. Each time the water is transferred, you can expect it to drop about 10 degrees.
- Place the desired amount of tea leaves into a spoon while you allow the water to cool a bit more. You will use about double the amount of leaves as you would with a normal sencha blend. Each fluid ounce will require about 1 gram of tea leaves. It is important to know how much water your teacup can hold. That way you will be able to measure out the proper amount of tea per cup. If you aren’t sure how much a gram of tea is, use a small scale.
- Place the leaves into a teapot. Traditionally in Japan, a houhin or shibori-dashi teapot would be used. The leaves should be loaded into the strainer. Then pour the water from the teacups into the pot.
- Allow the tea leaves to steep with the lid off for about two minutes. Then, cover the pot with a lid. At this point, you can pour the tea back into your teacups and enjoy your brew.
* Another great thing about Gyokuro, is that you can brew the same set of leaves 3-4 times. Store the wet leaves in the teapot for the next use.