One thing I’ve learned is that gyokuro is very sensitive to brewing temperature. If water is too hot, the flavour is very pungeant and over-powering. If done right, you will have a very smooth flavour.
In my experience, no higher than 50 degrees Celsius is the perfect temperature for this tea. One minute for the 1st infusion, and 40 seconds for the 2nd. For the last infusion, I use 60 degree Celsius and 1 min, 20 seconds. I find that a small, fast pouring vessel is best, such as a gaiwan or a houhin (I prefer the gaiwan due to the control I have over the amount of sediment/leaves in my cup). When I use a slow pouring vessel like a small traditional-shaped teapot, I find the flavour is off and not nearly as enjoyable.
The dry leaves are dark green and almost needle-shaped. The colour is reminiscent of seaweed and so is the scent. There is a buttery note, along with an aroma akin to the ocean. When the leaves are wet, they remind me of chopped cilantro and parsley and smell like yummy buttered greens.
The liquid is the most beautiful part of this tea. It is a very bright yellow-green that reminds me of one of those fancy drinks you see on television (or in person if you actually go out, I suppose).
When brewed properly, the flavour is vegetal and smooth, like dark greens with a hint of butter. There is a subtle astringency that disappears into an almost sweet flavour that lingers afterwards. It seems to have a refreshing effect on the palette and awakens the taste buds. It would go good with a light meal since it would bring out the subtle flavours.
This tea has a bit of an acquired taste, particularly if you’ve never tried Japanese tea before. There is an ocean flavour hidden somewhere within. I’m not sure if it’s because there is a high salt content in their soil, or if it has something to do with the salt-water breeze, since they’re on an island. Either way, I enjoy the unique flavour and recommend that any adventurous tea drinker should try it at least once in their lifetime. Just make sure that you brew it properly