Den’s Gyokuro Kin was my eye-opening introduction to what “real” green tea could be. After I finished my first 50g a couple months back, I waited for my houhin to arrive before I broke into my new packages. I’m still working on getting my timing and leaf ratio correct, but it’s a great choice for anyone looking for an affordable “daily gyokuro.”
First steep (145*; 90secs): Delightful! Even though it soaked for a good minute and a half, the tea has a light, grassy emerald color and a lot of sweetness. Love the umami, the taste of freshly steamed vegetables, and the smooth mouthfeel afterwards. The flavor lingers slightly, but is usually gone by the time I finish brewing up the next cup.
Second (165*; 60 secs): A gorgeous color that’s closer to the jade you might find in a fukamushi sencha, but with a lot more umami and very little astringency. This is my favorite cup — slightly buttery, wholly vegetal, and a joy to sip and “take in.” There wasn’t as much of that smooth mouthfeel I get from the first one, but I love the flavor of this cup!
Third (175/ 2+ mins): A little longer than I usually steep it for, but it still turned out OK. By now, the bright umami flavor is starting to get a bit diluted, but I can still taste what I liked about the last two cups with a burst of astringency.
Fourth (Boiling; 5+ mins): Final steep this time. Still green, but more bitter up front/astringent in its finish. Very little of that vegetal umami taste remains, but it has more of that “bitter freshness” I enjoy in sencha. I could never get four cups out of my kyusu, but the smaller size of the houhin seems to “stretch it out” a lot.
In summation: not as varied and nuanced as higher-end gyokuro, but a tasty alternative to Karigane blends for the price.