Gyokuro Pine Breeze

Tea type
Green Tea
Ingredients
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Caffeine
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Edit tea info Last updated by CHAroma
Average preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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6 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Houston is having an atypically long stint of gloom. I decided to try to brighten it with some of this bright green tea. The cup has a very thick mouth feel today. Maybe I did a better job...” Read full tasting note
    89
    jimmarks 325 tasting notes
  • “Two teaspoons of tea, steeped for one minute rather than the minute and a half suggested on the packet, because I've learnt to be very, very careful with Gyokuro. But actually, now that I've tried...” Read full tasting note
    98
    luthien 265 tasting notes
  • “I am a fan of Japanese greens. I scored this as a sample with a purchase of TKY from Lupicia. Im always a bit iffy with Gyokuro, because they are very picky about the brew, and I become lazy to...” Read full tasting note
    95
    theyhaveways 31 tasting notes

From Lupicia

A Gyokuro made from ‘komakage’, a special Uji tea variety. Superior green tea with a distinctively deep and rich taste. In order to enjoy this graceful blend’s deep flavour, brew slowly at a fairly low temperature.

About Lupicia View company

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6 Tasting Notes

89
325 tasting notes

Houston is having an atypically long stint of gloom.

I decided to try to brighten it with some of this bright green tea.

The cup has a very thick mouth feel today. Maybe I did a better job preparing it than I did the last time. But the problem with truly fantastic shaded green teas which are steeped correctly is that they’re mild by definition. They’re subtle. There shouldn’t be anything in the cup that leaps out and grabs you by the nose.

Which, while it makes for a very soothing cup of tea, does make it very difficult to get all that excited about any one particular cup.

We have another Japanese green in the house that Liz got while she was in Tokyo, much less high end, and yes, I can taste the difference between the two. But unless I was having a very special meal that required the pairing or I was hosting a very formal gathering, I’m hard pressed to come up with a justification for spending the money on this kind of tea when the “pay back” is so much less obvious than it is in other categories of tea (where the pay off can be enormous in some cases).

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 15 sec
TeaBrat

The Lupicia sales guy was trying to sell me on their “Yame” which is more expensive than this one I believe. I loved the gyokuro I had from Arbor tea. definitely worth the extra $ imo

ScottTeaMan

Another New Year resolution is for me to drink more Japanese greens. I love a good sencha….Jim it sounds like you prefer a fuller green.

Amy….how much was the Yame, do you remember?

Jim Marks

Mostly what I prefer is being able to taste what I pay for, and this particular tea, at least at Tokyo prices, goes beyond that point.

I’m not suggesting that just any shaded Japanese green will taste like this one does. There are certainly low end, cheap teas out there. And yes, it is worth spending more to avoid those.

But this one in particular was so much more expensive that it goes beyond the point of simply avoiding bad tea and gets into a price range where I expect something exceptional, and, at least so far, this isn’t exceptional. It is very good. Just not exceptional.

TeaBrat

Scott – I don’t remember exactly but it’s on Lupicia’s website
Jim- I see your point. Perhaps this isn’t such a good gyokuro?

Jim Marks

I’ve had others as well, from TeaG and other places and it seems, to me at least, that there is this tipping point where the rate at which the price is going up from grade of tea to grade of tea becomes very steep while the difference in what ends up in the cup from grade to grade becomes very shallow.

Maybe in this particular case, it was a matter of expectations. I’ve had many people insist that you can only get truly good tea in Japan. That the teas which are exported from Japan to other places, even the very expensive ones, just aren’t that good compared to even the most humble cup in a noodle shop in Osaka. Well, Liz went over there and brought two or three teas back, including this one, and they simply didn’t live up to those kinds of claims. Maybe I just need to get past that set of expectations and then come back to this tea with a clear mind.

TeaBrat

where did you read that from, the Japanese tourism board? ;-)

ScottTeaMan

I think it may be both. Possibly some of the best (or even most of) are kept for the Japanese market. I think it has to do with freshness too. Even the best grades, even vacuum packed, that are exported quite possibly can’t be as fresh as teas harvested & cupped in Japan.

Jim Marks

Not read. People, face to face, have made the argument and insisted on it. Not all of them were even Japanese people, oddly enough.

TeaBrat

sorry to be a skeptic, I work in the field of marketing… :) I’ve never been to Japan so I would not know.

Jim Marks

I was always skeptical of the claim. But there’s always a part of you that wants to believe that if you go there, and spend enough, some magical doorway into “real tea” will open. It is disappointing to learn that’s probably not the case. I have to say probably because we may simply, even at this price point, have not spent enough money to open the door. Although I doubt it.

ScottTeaMan

My friend went to China & had a really good Oolong tea, & brought some home. We sampled it and it was really good, but she said it wasn’t quite as good as the tea she had while in China (the same tea). Preparation has alot to do with it too.

Jim Marks

While true, I think what is really going on has much more to do with cultural elitism coupled with the fact that we’re simply far more likely to enjoy a cup of carefully prepared tea while on a once-in-a-lifetime trip than we are with preparing the exact same leaves at home — no matter how expert we are in tea preparation. People from tea cultivating regions want to be able to insist that tea is best had right there at the source and that Americans buying tea out of shops far from that source simply can’t experience tea the way you can right there next to the bushes. Which, on one level is quite true. But on another level gets less and less true all the time. Mechanisms for tea storage, shipment and distribution are improving all the time. I have had tea that was at most mere days older than if I had been drinking a cup prepared by the master gardener himself. But on another level, this idea that the best can only be had right at the source simply isn’t true. Ultra premium products routinely fetch higher prices on the export market than they do domestically. So it is actually more likely that the best of any one given thing is sold abroad rather than at home. Look at the US fishing industry. The best tuna catches never even touch US soil. Those fish go directly from US owned boats to Japanese owned airplanes — despite a huge domestic market for ultra premium grade seafood. The mark-up is simply better selling it on export. So there’s very little reason to believe that, aside from what might be kept as genuinely priceless (for example the original big red robe bushes) and not sold retail anywhere, one cannot buy “the best” anywhere except on a local market level.

But we’re way, way off the point, here. In the world of pu-erh, you can buy very modest product and it is perfectly drinkable. You can spend a bit more, and you notice the equivalent increase in price. And the more you spend, the better the tea gets right along with that price. Yes, the closer you get to “the top” the more and more important matters of storage, shipment and eventual preparation become to truly unlock all the potential of the leaves. But the potential is there to begin with. Similarly, Darjeeling teas occupy an enormous spectrum of quality and price and in most cases the correlation and contrast is obvious.

All I’m suggesting here is that with shaded green teas, that correlation and contrast is far less obvious as one gets closer and closer to “the top”. Down near the bottom of the spectrum, the contrast is obvious. But as one moves up, the subsequent improvements become harder and harder to discern.

A very narrow, modest assertion.

ScottTeaMan

Good points all around. I think the tea experience in a foreign country heightens expectations, and in some way the brain heightens the experience. I mean I’d rather drink a quality Japanese green tea in Japan, experiencing a tea in its’ homeland, but for me it is not likely. That plays a part too. I haven’t had too many shade grown teas, but I see your point. At what point are we willing to pay that extra money, when the payoff isn’t there?!

TeaBrat

I think you just need to figure out what kind of tea you really love and are willing to spend more money on. The rest of the time an average product is certainly fine. For me personally, I like pu-erhs but I don’t feel the expensive ones are worth the price. I’ll take the gyokuro. ;-)

ScottTeaMan

I agree about the Darjeelings too. I haven’t paid $40+ 1/4 lb for any Darjeeling, but at $25-$30, there is a significant increase in quality, over a $15 per 1/4 lb of tea.

ScottTeaMan

You mean like Mei Li? :)) Amy, Sencha Fukamushi’s can be a great experience. Much lighter than many Senchas out there.

Jim Marks

I think this goes way beyond tea. Our culture has trained us to believe that things are expensive because they are better. A Calvin Klein tee shirt costs five times as much as a tee shirt from Target because it says Calvin Klein on it — but we don’t think that way, we think that designer names somehow equate to actual garment quality (which may have been true in decades and centuries past, but certainly isn’t true anymore). Way “pay for the name” as they say. Oddly, in that case, we pay extra to do free advertising on behalf of the designer.

We go to restaurants and pay $50 a plate for dishes that have 20 ingredients in them most of which are simply the latest “buzz” foods — despite the fact that science tells us all but the highly trained can only taste at most 6 things at a time. We’re paying for the experience of eating buzz foods off a fancy plate when a more modestly prepared version of the dish for less money might actually be “better food”.

The build quality on Mercedes Benz is actually worse than the build quality on a Hyundai right now but we still pay two or three times as much for that fancy German badge on the hood.

My philosophy is always “be willing to pay for what you can appreciate”. If you can tell the difference sufficiently to justify the cost, go for it.

For my palate, the distinction in pu-erhs is profound while the distinction in shaded greens is not. But, at that point, we’re discussing taste, not anything objective.

ScottTeaMan

Bottom line for me is this:

I’m willing to pay more for tea than designer clothes, coffee, an expensive wine, etc.; and I have the receipts to prove it! :))

TeaBrat

I have never bought into the expensive is better philosophy. But sadly that seems to be the way of the world and the world of tea snobs… nice chatting with you both. :)

ScottTeaMan

Sometimes you get what you pay for. For the most part though, I agree Amy. I refuse to wear shirts with names on them…….unless they’re stained with tea! :))
Catch ya both later………….

ScottTeaMan

Sometimes you get what you pay for; but, for the most part, I agree Amy. I refuse to buy clothes with names on them…….unless they’re stained with tea! :)) Catch ya later…….

ScottTeaMan

WWWHHHAAA…..I think I’m seeing double.

Shinobi_cha

How much does this gyo cost? I get the impression that gyo only gets any good (or really begins to be more remarkable) at the $50/gram price range.

Jim Marks

So… just had a conversation with the wife. As it turns out, the problem here all along has been her sense of what “expensive” tea is. She drinks mostly roiboos and flavored teas.

Via the USA distribution, you can get Pine Breeze for $20/50grams. Which is, frankly, very cheap.

I’ve had TeaG’s gyokuro which is $55 for 100grams.

There is no way I would ever pay $50 per gram for a tea. I don’t care if it has gold, sex and God mixed into it, nothing is worth that much money. At that point you’re paying $100-200 per pot of tea!

If one has to go that high to experience “truly great Japanese tea” then they’re welcome to it. I’m more than happy to spend 1/10th that price for aged pu-erh and be more than blown away by what I get.

TeaBrat

there’s no way would I ever spend that much money on a flippin’ tea – just sayin’

Jim Marks

It is nice to know that my tea snobbery has bounds.

ScottTeaMan

I wasn’t sure if Shinobi cha was serious. WOW! I couldn’t stop laughing at your comments Jim…….it just struck me as hilarious! It’s totally absurd to pay $50 /gram for any tea. Just my opinion of course. :))

ScottTeaMan

$200 for a pot of tea…HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Shinobi_cha

Oops! I meant $.50/gram, haha! Looks like Pine Beeze and TeaG’s gyos are about that range… and if you just didn’t love them at that asking price… well that’s fine; tea is after all, not a necessity and so drink what you enjoy.

Jim Marks

Ah. Yes. That makes a lot more sense.

And yes, that has been the point all along. There is a tipping point where what you are paying for may not actually have increased value to the individual.

ScottTeaMan

uMMM….YEAH…tea IS a necessity!:))

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98
265 tasting notes

Two teaspoons of tea, steeped for one minute rather than the minute and a half suggested on the packet, because I’ve learnt to be very, very careful with Gyokuro. But actually, now that I’ve tried it I think this one might stand to be steeped for a minute and a half. It would be interesting to find out if the extra time would make it a teensy bit stronger without ruining it, anyway.

This is a very soft, muted sort of gyokuro. It produces the typical pale green liquor and the taste is vegetal, of course, but not overly so. It’s very soft and gentle on the surface, but isn’t as silky/smooth in the mouth as that softness might lead you to expect. The aftertaste is really, really interesting. There’s a little bit of saltiness to it, and a very slight sharpness that’s so subtle that I’m hesitant to go as far as calling it astringent.

This is the sort of tea that makes you want to sip it slowly and consider every drop. I’ve just finished my first cup and I already want to try it again.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Keemun

…why you are careful with Gyokuro?

Luthien

@keemun Gyokuro is a really wonderful tea if you get it right, but it’s very, very unforgiving and horrible if you get it wrong – and it’s very easy to get it wrong. It needs much cooler water than any other tea I know, and it’s also vitally important not to over-steep it even by only a little. I usually make it in water a little cooler even than this, and steep it for no more than a minute.

Ricky

From wikipedia →

_ * use twice the weight in dry tea leaves for a given quantity of water (e.g. 6 to 10 grams for 180 ml, or 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons for half of a cup);

  • use a lower brewing temperature (in the range of 50°C-60°C (122°F-140°F) instead of 65°C-75°C (149°F-167°F) for sencha; for high-end Gyokuro such as National tea jury rank, a temperature of 40°C (104°F) is recommended.);
  • a longer steeping duration, at least for the first infusion (90 seconds instead of 1 minute for sencha)._
Keemun

…thanks Ricky. Don’t have a Gyokuro on my cupboard right know…but will print out your advice and keep it!!!

Ricky

One more thing about Gyokuro. It actually contains more caffeine than black tea! I’ve been meaning to make it the last few days until I read that.

spittingoutteeth

Gyokuro does have a lot of caffeine, but it also has higher theanine levels than any other tea. Theanine is a natural calming agent and counteracts the “jittery” effect associated by coffee or black tea caffeine.

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95
31 tasting notes

I am a fan of Japanese greens. I scored this as a sample with a purchase of TKY from Lupicia. Im always a bit iffy with Gyokuro, because they are very picky about the brew, and I become lazy to brew it with the right amount of patience.

I brewed this in a 12 ounce kyusu, with obi-ami mesh. Went extra careful with the water, and brewed it at one minute ascending brews, stopping my pour half way through, swirling the tea around quickly around the mesh and finishing the pour. Over all it drew up a bit more than four cups, if you want bolder flavour go with two minute ascending or tinker with the seconds. I try to just pass one brew with Gyokuro, most of the time the pickiness can’t handle another draw, and I rather not play by the clock with a Gyokuro.

Like any Japanese green it has a vegetable profile, but I agree that it is a soft, more “friendly” Gyokuro, not the menacing green giant in a cup ready to smack your mouth with its’ almost overwhelming beta-carotene rich flavor! The cup drew light green, granted a enjoyable fresh glasslike scent and delivered a flavour that glides through your mouth with a oceanic finish, leaving you wanting to tilt the cup again, I consider it refreshing.

Starting on a Gyokuro? This wouldn’t be a bad choice for a starter in my opinion. After the sample I would try this again if i was in the mood. It’s a great tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
spittingoutteeth

I’m guessing that the 90 °C brew temp you posted was in error, but if not, I recommend trying to brew it at a much lower temperature (50-60 °C) and you should get even better results.

theyhaveways

Thanks for the comment. I usually brew greens at 200ºF. Gyokuro, a bit shy of the temperature. But I’ll take in account brewing at a lower temperature, I’m just a bit scared of letting the cup get cold.

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