Here is a tea that I have been excited to review since receiving the package. Today, I have the time to give this high quality, beautiful tea the careful attention that it demands. This review will focus on the Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha. To view this tea at the Yuuki-Cha website, please click here.
Yuuki-Cha sourced this gyokuro green tea from a JAS certified organic garden in Ujitawara, in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan. The leaves used in this gyokuro are harvested entirely from the Gokou tea bush cultivar, typically in the month of May. This particular garden shades the tea bushes, reducing the exposure to direct sunlight, for thirty days before harvesting. This particular product being from the May, 2014 harvest, which is considered the first harvest (Ichibancha) of 2014. The leaves are steamed at a medium level (Chumushi).
The gardens approach to creating a more natural product does not end in the organic methods used in cultivating the bushes. After a light processing, the leaves are not sorted or graded, and are sold as is. In the Japanese tea industry, unsorted or ungraded tea leaves are referred to as “aracha”. The end result is a truly unique, natural, and authentic gyokuro green tea.
The sample packet has been opened, and there is a high level of freshness in the smell that I have never experienced before (and this product is 10 months old!). Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves range in color from fresh, bright forest green to fresh, dark forest green, with a light glossy effect. The leaves are obviously unsorted, with fragments ranging in size from small crumbs to medium leaf fragments, with a few small pieces of bare stem in the mix. The leaves are lightly rolled, with a somewhat soft (yet dry), fresh feel. For a tea that is nearly a year old, these leaves have an incredibly fresh character. The smell has scents of fresh dewy grass, brown sugar, sea mist, light dry kelp, and fresh wet forest floor.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 160°F (70°C). The leaves were infused for 2:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 140°F (60°C) to 150°F (65°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect at least three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, decreasing the steep time by 60 seconds on the second infusion, and increasing by 30 seconds on the third infusion and so on. Also, increase water temperature by 10°F (5°C) on each subsequent infusion starting with the second.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright jade green color, and a slightly cloudy appearance (as expected and typical). The aroma has scents of fresh kelp, butter, fresh cut grass, brown sugar, sea mist, and steamed asparagus. The body is medium-full, with a buttery, smooth texture. There is a very fresh, high quality umami character, even considering the higher than recommended water temperature used. There is also a modest astringency that can be attributed to the higher water temperature. The taste has notes of fresh cut sweet grass, kelp, butter, steamed asparagus, steamed spinach, sea mist, mineral (salt), and light brown sugar. The aftertaste carries the notes of sweet grass and buttered asparagus, with a light touch of brown sugar. A pleasing flowery essence evolves as a few seconds pass, and lingers on the breath.
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh, dark forest green color, with the stem fragments being light forest green. The leaves range in size from crumbs to medium leaf fragments, with some stem fragments in the mix. The leaves have a very soft, delicate character, and have the consistency that would make for a tasteful snack with a splash or two of soy sauce. The smell is dominated by scents of fresh cut dewy grass and fresh kelp.
Although admittedly this is only my fourth or fifth gyokuro green tea, I can say with absolute certainty that it is levels above the others that I have tried. As you can understand by reading the descriptions above, the word fresh is the most accurate descriptive word for this product, and I have to state again that this product is nearly a year old! I will keeping a close on the Yuuki-Cha website this coming May, with intense excitement of the fresh harvests of 2015. This Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea embodies the best of what the Japanese tea industry offers to the world. The taste evolves beautifully through multiple infusions, and provides a positive experience from the very second the packet is opened through the consumption of the infused leaves. There is absolutely nothing to waste in this product! Whether you are new to gyokuro green tea or a veteran drinker of this type, give this product a try. If you are disappointed for any reason, please send it to me, and I will gladly enjoy it!
Thank you to Yuuki-Cha for sourcing this excellent Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen, and to all those who celebrate today! Cheers!