This is probably a completely inaccurate rating, as I am pretty sick right now and can barely taste anything. I’m not sure why I thought to brew up one of my higher-end teas while ill, but I did it anyway, and I may as well write about it.
This is my third time trying to brew this tea; I’ve been having quite a struggle with it. I’ve wanted to try gyokuro for a long time and considering, from what I hear, its picky-ness with brewing parameters, I figure I would start with something…economical.
Well, the first time I tried, I guess the water was too hot—incredible, puckering astringency that only got stronger. The second time I think it was too cool, and tasted like nearly nothing. This time I stuck with the cooler temperature (140-145), upped the leaf ratio to 1g/1oz, and forced myself, against all my past experiences, to let it steep for a full 90 seconds. I have an incredibly low tolerance for bitterness, and will often brew my sencha at a lower temp and for a shorter time than most people, so it was hard to make myself actually steep this as long as I did, but it was worth a shot.
The resulting first cup was interesting— it was mostly smooth and mellow and, I think “brothy” is the word most tea-snobs use. But it was flecked with these “spots” it seemed, of sharp astringency that was just a little offputting, but interesting. I kind of want to attribute this to the many bits of leaves that passed through the strainer, but no idea if that was really the case. It felt wonderful going down though, even if I couldn’t taste it very well. Kind of a chicken soup sort of feel.
The second infusion was even better— stronger in flavor and lacking those little sharp points of astringency (which again would make sense if the flecks of leaf were a cause, since most of them were washed out in the first steeping). By the third steeping it had mellowed out and I couldn’t taste much (but again, my nose feels like someone managed to cram an entire sock into it right now).
I forgot to mention I’m using my little 2oz green kyusu from Den’s Tea. It is the cutest little thing and gyokuro seems to be my best excuse to use it. Sometimes— I know this is probably the most uncultured and rude-sounding behavior in the tea world, but I can’t help myself— I enjoy sipping the tea straight from the tiny spout. Shhhh.
I actually ended up re-steeping this many, many more times, probably around 10-15. Weird as it sounds, that warm, grassy water went a long way in helping me feel better.
It’ll be interesting to duplicate these brewing parameters again when I’m feeling better and see if it’s actually any good. I’m a little skeptical of my own tastes right now, since I tried a bit of my boyfriend’s orange spice tea that had apparently been accidentally left steeping for half an hour, and thought it was pretty good. Which makes me think I should be using my temporary taste-loss as an opportunity to sip through all my cheap and/or stale tea that I need to clear out, instead of drinking higher-end stuff like this. But it’s hard to regret it; I really did enjoy this tea!