We selected the “Hon Gyokuro”. “Hon” in Japanese means genuine or authentic. Perhaps authentic is more suitable for this meaning. The name Hon Gyokuro is given only for the tea that is produced from the tea garden covered with “straw”. This is a traditional method applied for the production of Gyokuro and it is hardly practiced in most of the modern tea gardens nowadays. At present, almost more than 90 percent of the Gyokuro tea gardens are covered by black sheet that is called “Kanreisha”.
The reason why the Hon Gyokuro gives a long lasting aftertaste is because of the straw used to cover the tea garden. These straws are very rich in minerals. When rain falls, water that soaked through the straws on top of the tea garden will supply additional minerals onto the ground. The extra minerals from the straw will drastically improve the quality of soil and eventually the quality of Hon Gyokuro becomes so much different.
When seriously lacks sunshine, tea trees will trigger a chain of physiological changes within itself in order to survive. The tea leaf is not only physically changing, the chemical composition in the leaves also changed. As a result, tea leaves produce the typical flavor substances of Gyokuro and extremely rich in minerals. We select our Gyokuro from Shizuoka, Okabe Town of Shizuoka Prefecture where it is surrounded by clean air and transparent alpine water. We call it Asahina Gyokuro.
Starting from the end of April till beginning of May, the first flush is plucked. For Hon Gyokuro, the timing of plucking is later than ordinary Gyokuro. The plucking is usually carried out in the middle of May. The plucking is based on the standard of one bud and 3 leaves. It is important to include the third leaf. The third leaf stay with tree much longer than young leaf. Hence it contains more minerals and polyphenols. This is essential to gives a strong flavor and thick body in taste.
For more info: http://www.hojotea.com/item_e/g04e.htm