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70
drank Gyokuro by Harney & Sons
186 tasting notes

Incoming first-time Japanese-tea review!

So after my super-fail attempt at sencha, I figured, hey, let’s try something a LOT harder. Gyokuro. The parameter beast! Brew at your own risk!

Auggy sent me some super-premium stuff, so I figured, let’s start with the Harney and expand from there. I opened the little sample packet, and I was… surprised! Way to go, Harney! The leaves here are long and gorgeous, with a deep green-blue character. I was really surprised how much of it was unbroken and lovely.

It… it smells like grass. Yep. Fresh mowed lawn. So I carefully measured out a tablespoon of the stuff, and waited for the water to cool.

And waited.

And waited.

Okay, it takes a LONG time for water to go from boiling to 140, lemme tell you. But I didn’t want to mess this one up. Nope! Not after the sencha debacle! Then I made sure to pour at 55 seconds… just because I needed to make sure I didn’t mess this one up. Aaannnnd, I brewed with the lid uncovered. Yep! Gyokuro is too expensive to mess up! What a finicky little tea!

The infusion… it’s so pale! Paler than white tea! And instead of tinted yellow, like a white tea, it’s tinted lime. The cup smells like sweet grass. And… I’m not really picking up much other than that. So let’s move on to the fun part: the taste!

Wow. Um, hrm. Wow. Weird. Um. Yeah. Wow.

For as light as it looks, there really is a flavor punch is here. Not watered down, nope, not at all! There’s a lot of grassiness. A lot. Which I’m assuming is an acquired taste. I kind of like it, but then I sort of don’t, and then I’m confused. But it tasted like buttered, sweet grass! Which is kind of odd. It tastes fresh-cut. And there’s a wonderful sweetness that lingers totally along the palate, enveloping my mouth. No astringency at all! Nothing! Seriously, this one goes down smooth. There’s some very verdant green sediment at the bottom of my cup.

It’s the texture that’s really throwing me for a loop. It’s almost… heavy and creamy. Thick in my mouth. Now this is beginning to sound wrong, and I’m starting to giggle, but… yeah.

It tastes like a summer day spent running through sprinklers, the wet grass clinging to your feet, the water cooling on your skin, the smells and tastes of the air mingling together… it’s highly evocative, but I’m not quite sure I’m wrapping my head around the flavors yet. I don’t know how much of this I could drink at a time. It’s just odd! Lots of umami, but odd!

Also, this has lots of caffeine, right? Hrm… hehehe, I guess I’ll be up till all hours of the morning, then!

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Cofftea

Why is it a parameter beast? Wouldn’t it be quicker to just heat to 140 rather than bypass it then come back to it? I have yet to try a Gyokuro of any grade, but you have me very excited about my 1st experience!:)

teaplz

Gyokuro is one of the hardest teas to brew correctly. A couple of seconds extra steeping, and it gets bad-tasting. Also, the temperature has to be JUST right. Also, it’s good to brew it without covering it. I use a regular old kettle that you heat up on a stove-top, with a thermometer, or else I’d have just heated to 140. D:

Cofftea

Oh ok gotcha. :)

Ricky

Gyokuro was definitely a fun tea. I’ll have to lower my steep next time. Mine was super grassy! I mean I did double your time =P How many teaspoons did you use?

Auggy

Mmm, grassy. Sounds yummy! Yay gyokuro!

teaplz

Ricky, I used a tablespoon, so I have no idea what that is equal to! But it was a fair amount of tea!

Auggy, does this seem on par with most gyokuro? It’s pretty intensely grassy. Which might be sort of an acquired taste.

BUT NOW I AM HYPER AND BOUNCING OFF WALLS.

Ricky

That’s about three teaspoons =D I think it’s about the same I used. Ohhh someone’s hyper! That’s awesome! Haha, drink more drink more!

Cofftea

Ricky, isn’t it exactly 3tsp? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Ricky

You are correct, BUT what if someone uses a heaping versus a flat tablespoon? Doesn’t about sound better?

Harney & Sons The Store

For best Gyokuro steepings I actually recommend getting a gram scale. In fact it’ll improve all your steepings! This has to be the most hilarious and enjoyable and genuine Tasting note I’ve read. I wish there was a testimonial section on our site so I could put this up, I practically rolled out of my chair laughing, mostly cause I went through the same thing the first time!

Cofftea

True. I guess I’m already comparing apples to apples in my head (level vs level heaping vs heaping). If someone says tsp, I assume level. I guess we were both thinking of dogs, just different dogs:)

Cofftea

The parameters sheet I have for Japanese greens is all in tsp related measurments which really annoys me because I love my tea scale. So I normally measure it the 1st time, make a note of how much it weighs, then weigh it the next time.

Cofftea

My opinion is if you’re gonna get a tea scale, get one that goes to .01g. I would have gotten one to .001 if I could find one.

Jillian

That sounds a lot like the Gyokuro experience I had too, though that one wasn’t from H&S.

teaplz

Hehe, the only teapot I own is actually the IngenuiTEA, so I’m still quite the baby when it comes to tea. I’ll probably need to get a gram scale, but I’m working off of some pretty basic equipment: stove-top kettle, thermometer, stove timer, etc.

But yeah, a pretty interesting experience!

Keemun

@teaplz…same as you…I find it annoying to wait for the water to cool down after boiling. Well, either I do it like Cofftea mentioned above: i take distilled,bottled water and only heat it up to the required temperature (140F) or the other method…boil and then cool the water down with 2-3 ice cubes, an ice bath or mix the boiled water with some cold (previously boiled, or distilled bottle water) water…

Harney & Sons The Store

I have the next few days off Cofftea, but I know I have some info about grams and japanese tea steeping. I’ll get the link for you :).

Auggy

Yep, it sounds pretty normal for gyokuro. Very grassy and zero astringency. And buttery. Mmm. Based on your notes, it sounds like this is a good one! You’re probably right with the acquired taste thing… or maybe it is a love-it-or-hate-it thing like lapsang souchong. Mmm. Buttered fresh cut grass.

LENA

This was a great post. I’m very curious to try this now. I have to get a tea scale soon. I’ve got the temps covered…maybe the scale will make a big difference.

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Comments

Cofftea

Why is it a parameter beast? Wouldn’t it be quicker to just heat to 140 rather than bypass it then come back to it? I have yet to try a Gyokuro of any grade, but you have me very excited about my 1st experience!:)

teaplz

Gyokuro is one of the hardest teas to brew correctly. A couple of seconds extra steeping, and it gets bad-tasting. Also, the temperature has to be JUST right. Also, it’s good to brew it without covering it. I use a regular old kettle that you heat up on a stove-top, with a thermometer, or else I’d have just heated to 140. D:

Cofftea

Oh ok gotcha. :)

Ricky

Gyokuro was definitely a fun tea. I’ll have to lower my steep next time. Mine was super grassy! I mean I did double your time =P How many teaspoons did you use?

Auggy

Mmm, grassy. Sounds yummy! Yay gyokuro!

teaplz

Ricky, I used a tablespoon, so I have no idea what that is equal to! But it was a fair amount of tea!

Auggy, does this seem on par with most gyokuro? It’s pretty intensely grassy. Which might be sort of an acquired taste.

BUT NOW I AM HYPER AND BOUNCING OFF WALLS.

Ricky

That’s about three teaspoons =D I think it’s about the same I used. Ohhh someone’s hyper! That’s awesome! Haha, drink more drink more!

Cofftea

Ricky, isn’t it exactly 3tsp? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Ricky

You are correct, BUT what if someone uses a heaping versus a flat tablespoon? Doesn’t about sound better?

Harney & Sons The Store

For best Gyokuro steepings I actually recommend getting a gram scale. In fact it’ll improve all your steepings! This has to be the most hilarious and enjoyable and genuine Tasting note I’ve read. I wish there was a testimonial section on our site so I could put this up, I practically rolled out of my chair laughing, mostly cause I went through the same thing the first time!

Cofftea

True. I guess I’m already comparing apples to apples in my head (level vs level heaping vs heaping). If someone says tsp, I assume level. I guess we were both thinking of dogs, just different dogs:)

Cofftea

The parameters sheet I have for Japanese greens is all in tsp related measurments which really annoys me because I love my tea scale. So I normally measure it the 1st time, make a note of how much it weighs, then weigh it the next time.

Cofftea

My opinion is if you’re gonna get a tea scale, get one that goes to .01g. I would have gotten one to .001 if I could find one.

Jillian

That sounds a lot like the Gyokuro experience I had too, though that one wasn’t from H&S.

teaplz

Hehe, the only teapot I own is actually the IngenuiTEA, so I’m still quite the baby when it comes to tea. I’ll probably need to get a gram scale, but I’m working off of some pretty basic equipment: stove-top kettle, thermometer, stove timer, etc.

But yeah, a pretty interesting experience!

Keemun

@teaplz…same as you…I find it annoying to wait for the water to cool down after boiling. Well, either I do it like Cofftea mentioned above: i take distilled,bottled water and only heat it up to the required temperature (140F) or the other method…boil and then cool the water down with 2-3 ice cubes, an ice bath or mix the boiled water with some cold (previously boiled, or distilled bottle water) water…

Harney & Sons The Store

I have the next few days off Cofftea, but I know I have some info about grams and japanese tea steeping. I’ll get the link for you :).

Auggy

Yep, it sounds pretty normal for gyokuro. Very grassy and zero astringency. And buttery. Mmm. Based on your notes, it sounds like this is a good one! You’re probably right with the acquired taste thing… or maybe it is a love-it-or-hate-it thing like lapsang souchong. Mmm. Buttered fresh cut grass.

LENA

This was a great post. I’m very curious to try this now. I have to get a tea scale soon. I’ve got the temps covered…maybe the scale will make a big difference.

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Profile

Bio

22-year-old NYC girl just starting out on her tea adventures! I used to hate tea. If you asked me a few years ago what I thought of tea, I’d tell you it tasted like hot, dirty dishwater. Not anymore! I acquired a taste for tea when I started drinking peppermint tea for my upset stomach problems. From there I graduated to teas like chamomile and Lipton. But Lipton wasn’t strong enough!

I’m getting the hang of this loose leaf thing. Black’s my default, but I’ve found that I really love teas that fall into every category. I’m a purist – I always drink my tea neat. I prefer unflavored tea over flavored tea, and really dislike anything flavored with artificial-tasting substances. I’ve grown up a bit in my tea drinking, and I find that novelty appeals to me less and less.

I also am the happy girlfriend of the boy that created the tea randomizer, which can be found here: http://www.jaydeee.net/pickatea.php

Location

New York City

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