Kurihara Tea #02: Heritage Gyokuro Tea

Tea type
Green Tea
Green Tea
Grass, Umami, Vegetal, Seaweed, Sweet
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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by Lion
Average preparation
Iced 2 min, 0 sec 10 g 3 oz / 90 ml

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4 Tasting Notes View all

  • “You know what, I have excitement building in me that I was going to wait to share, but if I don’t let it out I shall pop! So, for most of my gaming life (I cannot remember a time in my life...” Read full tasting note
    SoggyEnderman 703 tasting notes
  • Sipdown I could have sworn that I’ve posted about this tea previously. Nevertheless, I finished of my sample from Yunomi this morning. I’ll have to say it – I am...” Read full tasting note
    cvasilevski 853 tasting notes
  • “This review is mostly a clone of the last one, because the differences were minute in my experience. Before you read my review, just know that I am brewing this the traditional Japanese way, which...” Read full tasting note
    Lion 237 tasting notes
  • “Having this one this morning. Brewed accorking to Yunomi. First brewing : 1 tsp, , 1/3 cup water at 110F, 2 minutes. It was rich and sweet like heavy seaweed. No astringency at all. ...” Read full tasting note
    Ubacat 497 tasting notes

From Yunomius

Gyokuro tea is grown beneath shading, cutting out some 85% of the sunlight. This allows the leaves to mature without obtaining bitterness. The results is an ultra delicate green tea with an extremely sweet taste profile.

Our Heritage Gyokuro is grown beneath traditional, handmade bamboo and/or straw shading. The moisture that drips from this natural shading flavors the tea — a return to the past with this gourmet tea.

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4 Tasting Notes

703 tasting notes

You know what, I have excitement building in me that I was going to wait to share, but if I don’t let it out I shall pop! So, for most of my gaming life (I cannot remember a time in my life that I did not have access to a gaming system, my dad and I hoarded them) I had a gaming system and pile of games in my bedroom. I would re-arrange my entire room to make it easy to lay in bed while gaming, because yours truly spent a lot of days home sick from school or too sick to play, I spent that time alternating between gaming and reading. Since living in Kansas City, the Xbox360 has been in the family room, and I have just hated that! Thanks to a little finagling, I will be getting a nice monitor and moving the Xbox to my bedroom, finally, on those sick days I can lay in bed and game without having to interact with anyone. That sounds a little mean in retrospect, just usually when I feel really icky I like being by myself, it is a very old habit I am not too likely to break. So, I am excited!!

It has been too long since this Gaijin had some Gyokuro, something I am rectifying right now, with Yunomi’s Kurihara Tea #2 Heritage Gyokuro Tea! The heritage part of this name refers to the super traditional way of shading this tea with handmade straw or bamboo mats, giving it an extra level of awesome. In case you are new to the ‘Jade Dew’ (that is what Gyokuro translates to) let me take you on a very green adventure! This Japanese tea is different from Sencha by being covered by a shade for a length of its growing time, this of course depends on how high of a grade of Gyokuro, the longer the shading the higher the quality. This is the most sought after and expensive tea to come out of Japan, now, if only I had a fancy Shiboridashi to brew it in using the specialized brewing method. So, enough rambling, onto sniffing the tea! The aroma of the vibrantly green leaves (seriously, they are as green as pine needles) is delightfully sweet, a blend of sweet chestnuts, wildflower honey, freshly mown hay, sweetgrass, and a tiny bit of distant wildflowers. Something about the aroma of Japanese green teas (especially the very verdant ones) reminds me of summer, either you have the sweet and green ones like this Gyokuro, or the sea air ones like some Sencha. Truly, this tea smells absolutely amazing, I might have actually inhaled a leaf after sniffing this tea so much!

Since brewing Gyokuro in the traditional way requires a large amount of leaf to a small amount of water, I decided to not use my Kyusu or make-shift Houhin (the holes are a little too big for a delicate tiny tea) and brewed the leaves in my double boiler-tea alchemy tool, for extra visual fun! The leaves look like they are almost bioluminescent while steeping, it is so pretty. The aroma of the steeped leaves is super sweet and very green, there are notes of sweet chestnut, cut hay, sweetgrass, and crushed bamboo leaves giving it a touch of sharpness. At the finish there is a tiny hint of kelp to bring in that umami note. The liquid is delicate, not at all faint, but the difference between a piece of silk floating through the air and dropping a book, both are noticeable but one is prettier to look at. There are notes of sweet chestnut (it seems to be the dominant note so far) and hay with underpinnings of bamboo and kelp. The liquid balances sweet, green, and savory very well.

So, first steeping time, and let me start by saying that this tea is thick! I love that about Gyokuro, when brewed with the traditional methods it is often called soupy or syrupy, and that is an apt description. It coats the mouth to an almost oily extent, almost like drinking warm, partially formed jello. The taste is an adventure, it starts sweet and nutty with chestnut notes and fresh hay. After this initial nutty sweetness the unami kicks in at the midtaste, it is fascinating, a blend of cooked spinach, bamboo shoots, and a touch of kelp. It tastes like eating the finished Gyokuro leaves as a salad. After this the taste goes to a slightly dry and a little bitter green like kale and vegetation. The finish is sweet grass and lingering honey.

For the second steep I upped the temperature and shortened the steeping time, as per Yunomi’s recommendation. The aroma is much more green this time around, with strong notes of spinach, kelp, and even a touch of kale in there as well. The finish is sweet with a touch of chestnut. So this steeping is a glorious example of how a tea can evolve, where the previous steep was sweet with a touch of umami, this tea is a kick in the face of savory notes. It is intense and delicious! Like a blend of kelp, kale, spinach, bamboo leaves and shoots, it tastes like a salad and growing things. There is bitterness, but it is bitterness of vegetation and green things, a bitterness that I absolutely love (and have come to realize that some people really dislike, much to my confusion) it evokes the foods of my youth with turnip greens and collards. The finish has a chestnut and wildflower honey sweetness that lingers, along with the smoothness of the mouthfeel. It is times like this that I wonder, why do I ever let myself run out of Gyokuro?

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/01/yunomi-kurihara-tea-2-heritage-gyokuro.html


I don’t think the hole-up-by-yourself thing is mean. It’s about perspective. When I’m really fibro-flaring and/or have a migraine going on, I tend to hole up, too. Only I couch mine as an avoidance of “inflicting myself on others”. :) How can that be mean? That’s a service!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Hehe I like that! Maybe I could make a fancy sign to hang on my door that says much the same, because I know I am cranky when I feel bad! Thank you, that actually makes me feel better!

I am somewhat reclusive by nature and worry that I come off as rude by being solitary rather than hanging out with everyone else.

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853 tasting notes


I could have sworn that I’ve posted about this tea previously. Nevertheless, I finished of my sample from Yunomi this morning.

I’ll have to say it – I am not a gyokuro person. Steeping is too fussy, and it’s generally meant for smaller portions whereas I like to make whole teapots of tea. I’m sipping this and just finding myself unable to finish off a single cup of this, never mind the rest of the teapot I’ve brewed.

I think I might pour the rest of this down the sink or into a plant…which makes me sad.

Ah well.

Cameron B.

To each her own. :)


If it’s not for you, it’s not for you, and life is too short to drink tea one doesn’t like.

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237 tasting notes

This review is mostly a clone of the last one, because the differences were minute in my experience.

Before you read my review, just know that I am brewing this the traditional Japanese way, which is very flavor-intense and different than the way most Westerners brew Gyokuro.

Here’s a very short article about what the difference is:

And the brewing method is here: http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-brew-gyokuro.html

It is also the same leaf to water ratio that was recommended in the gyokuro tip sheet Yunomi sent me with the teas… so I guess this is at least a somewhat common method in Japan.

I mention this because my first gyokuro review had a lot of people wondering why my experience with the tea was so much different than theirs. This is primarily why.

Of the Kurihara Tea Farm gyokuro sampler, so far this one had the least bitterness and some lingering sweetness with the incredibly intense umami that accompanies it. The flavor is intense, fills your mouth very quickly, and it takes a long time just to sip a tiny 20-30ml cup of it. It’s a really interesting experience. It resteeps okay once, but after that you’re digging into the bitter flavors in the leaf quite a bit so I really only drank two infusions of it.

It made a delicious green tea salad afterward.

I’ve decided not to rate Gyokuro teas unless I find myself really loving one. I believe in trying to appreciate them with the traditional method of brewing instead of diluting it to suit my tastes because I’d like to learn how and why this tea is usually appreciated in Japan, and so far the traditional method is just so new and abstract to me that it is very difficult for me to tell if I enjoy it or not. I think the quality of these teas is good, but I cannot particularly evaluate them because the flavor and feeling of this tea is just so unlike anything else I’ve ever had. It can be a little overwhelming, but it is also very savory and enjoyable in some aspects.

If you’ve never used the traditional method to prepare gyokuro, I recommend doing it at least once. It’s a trip. It produces a very thick and syrupy broth that you can sip on very slowly and the flavor will remain in your mouth for literally hours after drinking it.

Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal

2 min, 0 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Oh wow, those are some intense brewing instructions. I can see why you’ve found the flavours a bit overwhelming. I generally use these guidelines for gyokuro and it still makes a very intense cup, with much less leaf to water: http://www.o-cha.com/brewing-gyokuro.htm

I really wanted to try the leaf salad after my last gyokuro session, but I was feeling so intensely caffeinated from just sipping the tea, I was a bit afraid to eat more than a tiny bite of the leaves.


Anlina, I wish I had realized sooner how leaf-heavy the suggestions I used were. The ones Yunomi sent me on a print out were identical to this too. They suggested 8g/80ml. Then when I finally got to the final sample of the set I noticed the print on the packaging recommends 5g/80ml (1/3 cup), which is almost a 40% reduction in the amount of leaf… I tried that on the final one and the flavor was much more reasonable. It wasn’t so intense. I definitely liked it more when it wasn’t so incredibly strong.


Also, the leaf salad is delicious, and it releases its caffeine in a pretty slow and steady manner instead of all at once like the liquids do, but it is quite a caffeine boost and I don’t recommend eating it if you are really sensitive to caffeine. I am and I had to be careful to make sure I ate plenty of other food with it so I didn’t get too intensely caffeinated.


:nods: I’m glad you got to try at least one of the samples with a better leaf to water ratio. I hope this isn’t the end of your gyokuro adventures – I’ve been enjoying your tasting notes.

I was really impressed by how pleasant and not bitter the leaves themselves tasted. I am pretty sensitive to caffeine unfortunately. The last batch of leaves I had probably would have been okay – after I steeped them hot a bunch of times, I cold steeped them over night, which yielded an incredibly caffeinated cold brew (I made nearly 2L, and I still haven’t finished it, because even one cup makes me feel jittery.) So there probably wasn’t much caffeine left in those leaves. But I just didn’t feel like I could chance it. It’s good to know that the caffeine release of the salad is a bit slower – I may give it a try next time.


I recommend not eating all of the gyokuro salad at once. Maybe eat just a bit of it and see how you feel. You can always refrigerate the rest for later. Another thing I realized is that it will have better flavor if you pull the leaves directly out of whatever vessel they are in and put them into a bowl. The first couple times I tried it I rinsed out my kyusu so the leaves wouldn’t stick and poured all the leaves/water onto a strainer and then pressed them a bit to get the excess water out. All that extra rinsing to get them out of the pot really took out the flavor, so it is better to just pull them out with your hands I guess, even if it is tricky to get the leaves out of the little nooks and crannies of a teapot.


Holy crap. So much leaf for so little water. I probably don’t even have enough gyokuro in my stash to try something like this (or if I do, it’s probably on the old side). Tea leaf salad sounds intriguing though…

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497 tasting notes

Having this one this morning. Brewed accorking to Yunomi. First brewing : 1 tsp, , 1/3 cup water at 110F, 2 minutes. It was rich and sweet like heavy seaweed. No astringency at all. Second brewing: 1/3 cup , 185F, 20sec. This one had a stronger astringency due to the higher temperature but the sweetness was still coming through. Good but very different than the first brewing. My little teapot was not filtering out all the tiny leaves so with both the first and second brewing, I was getting those tiny leaves at the bottom of my cup. That’s what was giving it a strong strong seaweed taste at the bottom of the cup. So far, very delicious and very different. Will update further with more steepings! I would classify this tea as a very special occasion tea or special treat. The special steepings are a little tricky to follow and the tea is amazing. Definitely worth keeping in small quantities for that special treat.

Flavors: Seaweed, Sweet

Iced 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 79 ML

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