Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-on-line-millerton-new-york
Age of leaf: Lot # 11201: puts ‘production’ at roughly mid-July 2011 (although according to their website, all their Japanese tea is ‘harvested’ from previous years harvest – 2010).
Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Very small cut, straight pieces, dark green in color with a fresh vegetal aroma.
Brewing guidelines: Small amount of Stevia added, glass Bodum pot with metal strainer/plunger.
…………….1st: 160, 60” – great flavor
…………….2nd: 180, 40” – good flavor
…………….3rd: 155, 120” – very mild flavor, mostly just sweet
Color and aroma of tea liquor: a light lime green color on the first steeping, light yellowish green on the second and third steepings Grassy aroma.
Flavor of tea liquor: The flavor is what I believe the best Japanese green teas are known for: grassy, vegetal, fresh.
Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: looks a lot like cut grass—I have cleaned many lawnmower and this looks a lot like the grass clippings: dark green leaves cut into tiny pieces! There are a few large pieces of stems mixed in with the “clippings”.
Blends well with: I believe any Sencha will blend well with Gyokuro as they are both steamed when processed and take a little cooler temperature when steeped (I have had success blending it with at least one Sencha).
Value: For the sample direct from H&S, great, considering what you get for $2 (it is roughly $10/ounce otherwise). I was also lucky to get a large supply of this through a third party for a great price.
Overall: I have heard much about the amazing qualities of this tea, and I have not been disappointed: everything about it is fresh, and the flavor is strongly vegetal and unusually sweet for a green tea (I add less Stevia to the first steeping than I do with other green teas). I have been drinking this since late summer. I enjoy it all through the week since I drink it on mornings before work to give me that extra theanine kick (it is purported to have more theanine than other green teas due to its being shaded at the end of growing period); its hard to say for certain, but it does seem to have a greater effect on calming and focusing my mind than most other green teas. This is a tea that, if I can get it for a good enough price, I like to have on hand at all times.