Let’s just get this out of the way: Auggy is a goddess.
No, seriously. Because I think I’ve finally gotten what all the hullabaloo has been about Japanese greens.
I’m perpetually amazed at how different various permutations of tea can be. Not only through the white – black scale, but from different companies and different preparations. It’s almost frightening. I thought I pretty much knew what gyokuro was about from the Harney & Sons version I had a few weeks ago.
I thought wrong. Completely wrong.
Gyokuro is one of those teas that’s beautiful to look at. I don’t think that photos do it justice. The leaves are silky and a deep blue-green, most thinner than a toothpick. Really gorgeous stuff. The smell coming off them is a sweet, very grassy note, with just a hint of butter.
So I waited… and waited… and waited for the damned water to cool down enough to begin steeping this one. I believe I started the pour at 50 secs, just because I really wanted to make sure that this one didn’t oversteep. It’s that delicate. I also steeped with the lid off, to give the gyokuro some room to breathe. I don’t want to scorch the leaves in ANY way.
I knew immediately while the tea was pouring that this was going to be something special. The smell… oh my gahd. Very grass, but also very, very buttery. Mmmmm. The wet leaves smelled much the same. It’s like a freshly cut grass smell, mixed with melted butter. It smells delicious.
And the taste? Joygasm. Seriously.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with greens, I think mainly because in general, I tend to dislike green things. I really don’t like vegetables. I hate salads. Beyond artichokes and asparagus, and maybe the occasional piece of broccoli… yeah, they’re not my thing. But this tea… it’s lighter than Harney’s gyokuro, but just as intense and interesting. It’s pretty grassy, but that grassiness is tempered by butter. Rich butter. It’s silky-smooth and delicious and satisfying and REFRESHING. You can taste the award-winningness of this one.
There’s just this general sweetness to the entire cup as well. There’s really no astringency. Towards the end of some sips I sometimes get this almost tart feeling that develops just into a green sweetness. It’s almost similar to the sweetness you find in sugar snap peas (another green thing that I love).
I think Auggy just converted me with one cup of tea. I can’t wait to see what the second steep tastes like, although I probably won’t drink the entire thing, since gyokuro’s caffeine levels are off the charts. But DELICIOUS and NOM. Wow. Taste the quality!
The Second Steep (5 secs, 140 degrees) was pretty tasty, but a bit thinner than the first. The taste was a bit more grassy and a bit less buttery. Hrm. I’ll try to get a third steep out of this, but I doubt I’m going to finish the cup at all. It’ll be just for tasting purposes! NOM, though!
So Steep Three (1:10, 140 degrees) just sort of tasted like grassy umami water. Not that it was bad, but there’s no tea-ness to it. So I dumped the leaves out. I also played around with the wet leaves a bit, and they’re as soft as silk.