Tea type
Green Tea
Ingredients
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jillian
Average preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 45 sec 8 oz / 236 ml

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11 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Oh woe is me. The curse of having too much tea is that little gems like the last teaspoon or so of this sample get buried and when you find them, in this case, years later, they are a shadow of...” Read full tasting note
    79
    __Morgana__ 953 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...” Read full tasting note
    70
    teaplz 186 tasting notes
  • “Looking at this I'm reminded of how my husband's father was in Japan a few years ago (he goes every couple years on business--so lucky!!) and came back with gifts from the president of his company...” Read full tasting note
    ifjuly 613 tasting notes
  • “The dry leaves of this tea look like a bunch of macerated pine needles in colour and shape. I think the leaves would have been bigger normally, but sample packs tend to get squished and this one...” Read full tasting note
    63
    JillDragon 1612 tasting notes

From Harney & Sons

Uji’s most famous tea. Japanese aristocrats have sipped this shade-grown tea for centuries. The dark green tea makes for a very special cup.

About Harney & Sons View company

Since 1983 Harney & Sons has been the source for fine teas. We travel the globe to find the best teas and accept only the exceptional. We put our years of experience to work to bring you the best Single-Estate teas, and blends beyond compare.

11 Tasting Notes

79
953 tasting notes

Oh woe is me.

The curse of having too much tea is that little gems like the last teaspoon or so of this sample get buried and when you find them, in this case, years later, they are a shadow of their former selves. (How could I have let this happen? I really must be more careful.)

Doubly cursed, I had the last teaspoon already in the Breville filter when I realized I couldn’t get the settings to go any lower than 160 and I wanted to steep this at 140. I’d rinsed the filter from the last tea I’d made and so the leaves had adhered to the filter. I couldn’t move them to another filter without losing half the sample. Sigh.

So I used the equivalent of chewing gum and coathangers or whatever that saying is. I heated the water in the Breville, let it cool, and stuck the filter into the water manually.

And why not go for the woe hat trick while I’m at it? I also think I used too much water for the amount of leaf I had left.

You may think all of this woe is leading up to a disastrous report. Happily, you’d be mistaken.

Yes, it’s a shadow of its former self judging by my previous note on this, but, somewhat unbelievably, it still has a pleasant, somewhat sweet, green mellow flavor. I’m glad I went ahead and steeped it rather than committing it to the compost heap.

caile

Yay, a happy ending!

__Morgana__

Indeed. :-)

Stephanie

hurray for non ruined gyokuro!

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70
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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613 tasting notes

Looking at this I’m reminded of how my husband’s father was in Japan a few years ago (he goes every couple years on business—so lucky!!) and came back with gifts from the president of his company of green tea in tins only labeled in Japanese. Not knowing what it was he gave it to us after having it around a while (so, you know, stale). Only now do I realize it was probably gyokuro (looked and smelled like it), a whole huge tin of it! Ah.

Truth is I wasn’t expecting to like this even though it is highly prized—unlike with Chinese green tea I’m pretty hit or miss with Japanese greens, and usually when I like one it’s because it’s flavored (cue gasps of horror from tea snobs here, hee) or otherwise not very archetypally green tea-y (think genmaicha and hojicha). On the other hand, I really loved Harney’s tencha when I tried it so I figured I’d give this a whirl not expecting much. But I rather like it! It still leaves that gradual build up of film on the teeth typical of Japanese greens, think the one you get after eating lots of raw spinach or oxalic acid-rich foods (chard, beets), but it’s much much lighter, so light it’s not unappealing. And there’s none of the scrubby lemoniness sencha tends to have that I don’t really like in more than rare small doses. The colors of the leaves and finished cup are beautiful and distinct, so bright plant-y green! And I love the smell, which isn’t grassy or harsh at all but like mouthwateringly fresh sweet vegetables. The taste is quite spinachy but in a good way, not a mouth-scrubbing raw greenness so much as lightly cooked spinach, with a feeling it’s been amped up richness-wise with butter or something savory and heavy-enticing and possibly lightly salted like that. Yum! I’m not used to Japanese greens being so filling and satisfying, almost like that Autumn Laoshan Green I just swooned over for the umpteenth time but with more fresh veggie smell. There is a juiciness too I’m enjoying.

I like this a lot and can see why it’s so beloved, fetching high prices. I can also see how, oddly enough, it would be ideal as a first-thing morning tea because of the caffeine (is it just me or do pure greens jolt other people way more obviously with energy than brisk black teas? If I resteep a couple greens midday I end up jittery as all get out, have to be careful in a way I don’t with even the strongest blacks), the bright greenness of the flavor perking up the senses, and the way it feels like a big bowl of freshly cooked sweet veggies, a very warm welcome back to life, a true “break fast”. It leaves one with the impression of color and life. Delicious.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Stephanie

I love gyokuro! But I’ve never had this one :)

ifjuly

truth is i was kind of hoping not to like it, because dayum, i find myself liking more and more different kinds of teas and it’s getting unwieldy to imagine restocks (plus, this and tencha are ‘spensive!). ha. but yeah…i think i’m coming around with japanese teas, at least stuff besides sencha. durn it! (:

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63
1612 tasting notes

The dry leaves of this tea look like a bunch of macerated pine needles in colour and shape. I think the leaves would have been bigger normally, but sample packs tend to get squished and this one has been in my cupboard for a fair amount of time. The leaves turned a vibrant jungle-green as they steeped and gave off a rather savoury aroma.

The tea is a lime green colour I don’t think I’ve ever seen in another tea and the flavour is distinctly ‘umami’ to my tastebuds. I’ve only ever had one other gyokuro, but I recall that it had a sweetness to it that this tea lacks. It has a lightly grassy aftertaste with hint of bitterness which makes me wonder if I screwed up the steeping somehow – maybe I steeped it for too long?

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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97
157 tasting notes

Feeling a bit light headed after an uneventful Valentine’s Day spent watching both Planet of the Apes movies for comparison purposes, so I decided, what better way to jumpstart my day than with a cup of ghastly, green Gyokuro.

The spinachy, seadweedy and decidely vegetal aromas are a brazen shock to the senses, but not in a harsh way. It’s lovely and soothing, pleasantly stirring, like a hearty spinach soup simmering on the stove. A sip of this decadent brew floods the mouth with a lush green flavor of the freshest steamed spinach, the cooked flavor of toasted walnuts and oddly, a hint of sulfur. Unlike many other high end teas, the flavor is consistent and solid, unevolving, but delicious all the same.

Like most great things Japanese, Gyokuro is a study in subtlety. A type of teas as well as an adjective, it has come to describe teas with “umami”, or mouth-coating sensation, as that caused by this lovely shade grown tea. Judging the gentle differences that shade growing makes requires careful attention. Though Gyokuro tea grows partially in the shade, and Sencha teas grow in the sun, both are processed the same way. The leaves therefore resemble each other closely, both in appearance and in taste. Yet the shade covering of Gyokuro accounts for the subtly lusher, darker, more mouth-coating tea.

Most Gyokuro is grown around Uji, half an hour south of the former capital of Kyoto. The shade-growing method was developed at the end of the Edo era, in the 1860s. Once a rural suburb of Kyoto, Uji has now become quite busy. Apartment houses and office buildings have replaced many Gyokuro tea fields. The remaining fields that make Gyokuro are wedged in between the buildings and on the hills that surround the city. About three weeks before the May harvest, the gardens are shaded over. They were once covered in rice straw; today growers use black plastic mesh.

Since the gardens are so small, crops are usually plucked by hand. Then the leaves are promptly steam-fixed to preserve the lovely dark green color of the leaves. Following the Sencha rolling method, the leaves pass through a series of machines that shape and dry the leaves in stages, approximating the steps skilled handlers once followed to make hand-rolled Gyokuro. (Since it takes about four hours to make a kilo of hand-rolled Gyokuro, it is rare to find hand-rolled tea, but they very long and slender leaves make a light, elegant brew.) After the rolling the tea is dried in an oven. The result is a special tea the Japanese particularly prize for its constant, vegetal flavor with gentle, soothing roasted notes.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Heyes

The edo era ended in the 1880s.

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93
115 tasting notes

This tea looks like Pine Needles! I am also told that this tea has a vegetal aroma and taste to it. If it tastes like Taiping Hou Kui, I’m sure I’ll love this tea.

Leaf Quality
The dry leaves are very thin, and deep green. They are also very delicate- the slightest touch of one of these leaves could brake it in 3 pieces. They smelled sweet, and floral. The wet leaves had the smell and consistency of cooked Spinach. I even noticed a very slight sulfuric aroma, as in cooked broccoli or cabbage. This tea, just by the leaves, was very vegetal indeed.

Brewed Tea
The brewed tea smelled of buttered Brussels Sprouts, which I happen to like (I know! How strange!) The color was a hue of lime green, but very clear. I could mistake this for a vegetable base in a soup. The taste was vegetal, and almost savory. However, this tea was also slightly sweet, and it reminded me of Sugarsnap Peas. How much vegetables have I mentioned so far?

This tea is very different in character to Taiping Hou Kui, which is more sweet, and less vegetal. Also, this tea is more robust. The taste does not change very much between steeps either. This tea still succeeds in pleasing the palate.

Preparation
2 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

Love B-sprouts!

Scharp

Thank goodness I’m not the only one! LOL. So many people give me weird looks when I tell them I like Brussels Sprouts.

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80
171 tasting notes

Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-on-line-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: Lot # 11201: puts ‘production’ at roughly mid-July 2011 (although according to their website, all their Japanese tea is ‘harvested’ from previous years harvest – 2010).

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Very small cut, straight pieces, dark green in color with a fresh vegetal aroma.

Brewing guidelines: Small amount of Stevia added, glass Bodum pot with metal strainer/plunger.
…………….1st: 160, 60” – great flavor
…………….2nd: 180, 40” – good flavor
…………….3rd: 155, 120” – very mild flavor, mostly just sweet

Color and aroma of tea liquor: a light lime green color on the first steeping, light yellowish green on the second and third steepings Grassy aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: The flavor is what I believe the best Japanese green teas are known for: grassy, vegetal, fresh.

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: looks a lot like cut grass—I have cleaned many lawnmower and this looks a lot like the grass clippings: dark green leaves cut into tiny pieces! There are a few large pieces of stems mixed in with the “clippings”.

Blends well with: I believe any Sencha will blend well with Gyokuro as they are both steamed when processed and take a little cooler temperature when steeped (I have had success blending it with at least one Sencha).

Value: For the sample direct from H&S, great, considering what you get for $2 (it is roughly $10/ounce otherwise). I was also lucky to get a large supply of this through a third party for a great price.

Overall: I have heard much about the amazing qualities of this tea, and I have not been disappointed: everything about it is fresh, and the flavor is strongly vegetal and unusually sweet for a green tea (I add less Stevia to the first steeping than I do with other green teas). I have been drinking this since late summer. I enjoy it all through the week since I drink it on mornings before work to give me that extra theanine kick (it is purported to have more theanine than other green teas due to its being shaded at the end of growing period); its hard to say for certain, but it does seem to have a greater effect on calming and focusing my mind than most other green teas. This is a tea that, if I can get it for a good enough price, I like to have on hand at all times.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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100
2 tasting notes

All-time favorite tea.
Feel like Japanese royalty with this sensational drink, a jewel among green teas.
This is a beautiful, strikingly green tea with a shade-grown flavor, a lightly vegetal and full-bodied tea that leaves the palette fully satisfied. This is a refined, and hardly forgettable tea.
Highly recommended. This is the creme of the crop in Japanese teas.

Though caffeinated, the tea is remarkably zen-inspiring.

**If deciding between Gyokuro and Heavenly Gyokuro, the difference is minor. To save a few bucks, go with the standard gyokuro. It is no less superior, and will not disappoint if brewed well.

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78
218 tasting notes

Okay! It’s time to work on some backlogs of teas from the last weekend since the next weekend is… pretty much here already!

So, a week ago I was watching the TeaDB guys doing a video review of a gyokuro (http://youtu.be/vjmcHHB25Z4) and I realized that I have the sample of gyokuro SOMEWHERE and that it is probably rather old ;D Considering how sensitive this tea is, I probably had it way past its prime.

I am not huge on Japanese greens, but this one was considerably milder in funky notes than I know a sencha, for example, to be. Pretty buttery, a little salty, but nevertheless with a hint of sweetness. I was surprised at how savory the first steeping was because the color of the brew, lightly green-tinted water, did not promise that. The second steep was pretty flavorless though but I blame that on the age of the sample.

I would love to try it again, and FRESH. Although the time when I will be able to afford 50g of fresh gyokuro is not to arrive yet for like… 10 years probably ;D But perhaps I could try another sample from somewhere. This could teach me some lovin’ for Japanese teas!

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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