This was a really mild-mannered and enjoyable gyokuro, really sweet and less umami-rich (savory) than the others I have tried, though I must admit at this point my experience with gyokuro is limited to this one and a sampler I tried of four different ones from Kurihara Family estate.
So, while the flavor this time didn’t have quite the intense umami that really impressed me from my former gyokuro experience, it also didn’t have strong bitterness at the end of the sip like the teas I tried from Kurihara Family. It’s kind of a trade-off. Do I prefer a gyokuro with a really rich umami flavor that packs a bit of a bitter punch at the end? Or one that is sweet and mild with just an average amount of umami flavor, that needs more leaf to have a rich flavor?
It’s hard to say, but it could in fact be the case that the Tsurujirushi represents a high enough quality gyokuro that I could simply use an even higher leaf to water ratio to bring out more of the rich umami flavor… Certainly the lack of much bitterness points in that direction, though I’m already using quite a bit of leaf with 3g per each 20ml of water and a 2 minute infusion at ~50C.
The second infusion of this tea actually had the best flavor and the most richness and depth. I shared this with a group of friends recently who were all enjoying gyokuro prepared the traditional way for the first time, and I was surprised that everyone enjoyed it. I think with the highly concentrated, tepid, tiny serving that you drink when serving gyokuro in this manner, it can be a bit of a strange experience for some tea drinkers. I know it was for me the first time I had it. The flavor was so intense and unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. Pure umami kick to the tastebuds.
Overall, I would say the Tsurujirushi was a very clean-tasting and sweet gyokuro. Really easy to drink even in the highly concentrated way for beginners.
I think I would enjoy trying a wider variety of gyokuro before purchasing this one again, but to be honest gyokuro is not a favorite tea of mine and I’m simply fascinated by the method of preparing and drinking it, so in that regard, it’s a bit of a novelty to me. For something as diligently labored over and as highly priced as gyokuro, I think you have to really be into it to justify purchasing it more than once in a blue moon.
Despite this gyokuro does seem to be a pretty high quality, the only reason I’m not rating it more highly in my scoring is because I feel you have to really use a lot of it to bring out the flavor… and it’s expensive compared to other types of tea, so it’s quite a commitment.
Flavors: Sweet, Umami, Vegetal