Yamashita's Gyokuro "Yashiki no Cha"
This tea of exceptionally high quality is grown at the tea gardens surrounding the residence of MaikoTea’s renowned tea expert Yamashita Toshikazu. He watches daily over the production of this most exquisite premium tea and makes sure that every step of the cultivation is done with great care and skillfulness.
The Yamashita Gyokuro has a condensed sweet taste with a characteristic ambrosial fragrance and extremely gentle flavour.
The production of this ‘expert’ tea is limited to a few kilograms a year since it’s processing is extremely tedious and time consuming. Being of such high quality the thick tea leaves maintain their pleasant flavor even up to 4-5 servings.
1. The Uniqueness of Yamashita Gyokuro Tea
Yamashita Gyokuro Tea has two qualities that make it so very special. First, proper soil is selected with the exact quality of nutrition and moisture. Secondly, the leaves are hand selected and manually kneaded or “pressed.” These two exceptional aspects are impossible to maintain at large-scale tea gardens. Every step of the production is verified with the craftsman’s own eyes and the touch of his own hands. This relentless individual care assures best results for superb taste and superior quality of the tea. Each step of the manufacturing process is checked making adjustments according to the particular climate of that year. Permitting enough time to cultivate the leaves slowly is the basis for the Yamashita Gyokuro production. Carefully supervised cultivation under the best conditions ensures no trace of bitterness but only the typical Gyokuro sweetness.
2. Very careful selection by hand picking the tea leaves one at a time3. Exclusive Japanese steaming process
Yamashita Gyokuro tea is picked entirely by hand.
This personal unique manner of hand picking (Shigokitsumi)
ensures that Gyokuro leaves are protected from the damage
caused by scissors or harvest machinery. For this reason,
it is only possible to harvest a few kilograms a day.
Furthermore, since the percentage of water in tea leaves
is very high in our area, only 15 % of the initial weight will remain after the leaves are processed. 3 kilograms of tea leaves take about 4 to 5 hours of hand pressing and will result in 500 grams of delicious tea.)
4. Dedication to manual pressing5. The finishing skillful touch
Mr. Yamashita insists that all further steps of the manufacture are done by manual pressing of the leaves. In modern Japan the manual kneading of tea has become an absolute oddity.
Most Gyokuro producers have abandoned this tedious and time-consuming ‘old-fashioned’ method. But it is exactly this part of the manufacture that enables the expert craftsman to scrutinize the produce thoroughly and to eliminate all pieces that are damaged.
This indeed is the very heart of the exceptional Yamashita Gyokuro production.
The last stage of the masterful procedure is called ‘itazuri’.
Because the water content of the tea cultivated in this geographical area is very high, it is necessary to add another rubbing of the tea. This part of the process is an exclusive tradition only observed in the Kyoto area: 30 minutes of itazuri at the end of this amazing cycle.