What is Gyokuro ?
Gyokuro is the most sought after leaf tea in Japan. It’s shaded for 3 weeks or more before the harvest, in order to maximize the sweet and savory flavor. Then the top leaves are selected and later they are steamed, dried and rolled into these tight needle shapes. These needle shapes lock in the flavor so it can be released all at once into a glorious green infusion.
Our Gyokuro is exclusively sourced from reputable Japanese tea farmers
After traveling around Japan for the past few years, we’ve met with dozens of farmers and sampled many different types of gyokuro. We found that the gyokuro produced by Mr. Sakamoto is really one of a kind. He has been growing gyokuro tea on this field since he was a little boy and in 1985, he took over the family business and decided to stop all use of pesticides and chemicals.
Our gyokuro is 100% organically grown and pesticide free
Gyokuro is particularly difficult to grow, because of the long shading process. To boost the growth of the tea plant during this time, a lot of farmers turn to chemical fertilizers, but for organic farmers like Sakamoto, this is not an option. He has perfected his own organic fertilizer, made from organic compost and sedimentary rock. This delivers nutrients to the soil, without harming the natural ecosystem. The organic fertilizer not only makes the gyokuro more flavorful, it also makes the plants stronger and healthier so they can survive weeks without direct sunlight.
How to brew Gyokuro
To brew gyokuro, there are a couple things to consider. The first is that the leaves are more sensitive to temperature, so you’ll want to use a lower brewing temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius.
The second thing to consider is that because the gyokuro leaves are so tightly rolled, they will need a full 2 minutes to open up and fully release their flavor into the water. After the gyokuro leaves have been opened up, they only need 20 seconds to brew for the 2nd and 3rd infusion.
Health benefits of Gyokuro
Gyokuro has the highest concentration of caffeine and theanine in the world of leaf tea. While gyokuro can have as much caffeine as coffee, you won’t feel as anxious or jittery when you drink it as the theanine is supposedly able to buffer some of the more negative effects of the caffeine.
Cultivating process of Gyokuro
The main factor that makes gyokuro unique is its long shading process. When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it automatically converts theanine into catechins, as a protection against the UV light. Catechins are the bitter components within the tea leaf, and if you are producing a sweeter tea, you want to minimize them. Because of the long shading process, gyokuro is able to maintain more of the sweet and savory theanine and take on less bitterness. As you can see on the picture, the shadding process also gives a obscure dark green color to the tea leafs.
History of Japanese Gyokuro
The history of gyokuro dates back to the 1830’s when Yamamoto Kahei, a tea merchant, was traveling around Japan and meeting with tea farmers. He noticed that some of the farmers were covering the tea plants with a type of netting to protect them from the frost.
He noticed that this shading actually had a huge impact on the leaves and actually gave them a “sticky” texture during the production process, producing a green residue. The tea was named “gyokuro” or jade dew, and it soon became one of the most desirable types of tea in Japan, even catching the attention of the emperor.
Treat yourself with some imperial Gyokuro green tea
Did you know that gyokuro was the tea of choice for the emperor? This is why you see gyokuro being sold as “imperial gyokuro”. Next time you drink gyokuro, just know that you are in good company!
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