A first gyokuro, courtesy of the benevolent Togo, thank you <3 I think this may also be the first tea I’ve had from our second swap. Is kabusecha a gyokuro? If so, this is my second.

It is a rough morning in the house of derk. I’ve had to close my door and put on a record to keep the negativity of Housemate #2 at bay. Somewhere along this timeline I acquired a Ravi Shankar album and this is the first performance on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjjOXIoCLPI

I’m still in the midst of this session but feel the need to write. After reading through the reviews of this tea (this is why Steepster is so helpful!), I prepared the entire 7g of dark green, shiny leaves in a 60mL gaiwan since I do not own any Japanese teaware. First boiled the water, then let it cool by passing it between a few vessels, warming the leaves during that process. The warmed leaf emitted a thick cloud of pine, sugar cookie and beef along with a fruity quality.

I did not keep track of steeping times beyond the initial 2 minutes and let the force guide me. The gyokuro soaked up so much water in the first brew that I barely got maybe 25mL of tea. Due to the liquor’s thickness, though, it seems like an appropriate amount to sip. Bitter with a moderate umami, like dandelion greens simmered with lamb or beef bones. Umami aftertaste with lingering bitterness and what I perceived as a whisper of smoke.
The tea maintained this character for at least 3 more steeps.

With the fourth steep a bright sweetness presented at the top back of the mouth. I sipped some of the leftover water that had cooled and that intensified the sweetness. I think this is something I will do in between these small cups. Later, that sweetness seemed to migrate down into my throat and into my chest. I’m on the 7th infusion now and the thickness has faded while the bitterness and beefy umami are still present, now with a lighter but still dark vegetal tone like kale and asparagus. All I’ve had to eat this morning is half a roll smeared with a bit of brie style cheese I picked up from a cheesemaker on my way home from work the other day. My stomach is not queasy at all. I’m pretty relaxed. Gyokuro is interesting. I think I enjoy it more than sencha.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Cookie, Dandelion, Kale, Meat, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 7 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Kawaii433

The tea sounds lovely… Housemate #2 does not. :)

derk

Yeah :/

derk

It is of consolation to me that she left an hour ago for an appointment. Sophia my cat then scratched at my bedroom door. She needed out of our cave. She promptly threw up on Housemate #2’s bed and flokati wool rug. Of course I will clean it up.

Mastress Alita

I haven’t really taken with gyokuro yet. It always tastes very seaweedy to me, which isn’t a note a particularly care for much. I drink it in a tiny amount and feel like I’ve taken one of those little shots of wheatgrass juice, heh. The energy boost from it is amazing, though.

derk

I didn’t get any seaweed from this, like I can from some other greens and oolong. I found it very enjoyable and more calming than energizing.

Ubacat

That seems like a really long first steep for gyokuro. Usually I go only 30 sec to 1 min at 70C and flash steep the next couple of infusions.

derk

Ubacat, I read and loosely followed the links provided in Lion’s review of this tea. Along with shorter steeping times, do you also use a lower amount of leaf to higher vessel volume?

Togo

To me 70C sounds like a very high temp for a gyokuro, and even some senchas (especially fukamishicha), but I guess you could do that if you want to accentuate some other aspects of it. I usually start with close to 50C for the first steep (the time can vary, I judge it be the eye, but could be close to 2 mins) and use very high leaf/water ratios for gyokuro, basically just covering the leaves with water.

Ubacat

Derk, yes, I do use less leaf and more water. I don’t like it when the bitterness creeps in. I like it sweet. I was just a bit surprised with your brew time. Normally I am brewing sencha’s at 70C but I have brewed some gyokuro’s at that too and they have been okay. For gyokuro’s it’s even better at the lower temperatures for the first brew though.

derk

Ubacat, I happen to like bitterness in green teas if the body is there to support it like it is in this one. When I get around to ordering some gyokuro (likely this one), I will give lower leaf:water and shorter steeps a try.

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Comments

Kawaii433

The tea sounds lovely… Housemate #2 does not. :)

derk

Yeah :/

derk

It is of consolation to me that she left an hour ago for an appointment. Sophia my cat then scratched at my bedroom door. She needed out of our cave. She promptly threw up on Housemate #2’s bed and flokati wool rug. Of course I will clean it up.

Mastress Alita

I haven’t really taken with gyokuro yet. It always tastes very seaweedy to me, which isn’t a note a particularly care for much. I drink it in a tiny amount and feel like I’ve taken one of those little shots of wheatgrass juice, heh. The energy boost from it is amazing, though.

derk

I didn’t get any seaweed from this, like I can from some other greens and oolong. I found it very enjoyable and more calming than energizing.

Ubacat

That seems like a really long first steep for gyokuro. Usually I go only 30 sec to 1 min at 70C and flash steep the next couple of infusions.

derk

Ubacat, I read and loosely followed the links provided in Lion’s review of this tea. Along with shorter steeping times, do you also use a lower amount of leaf to higher vessel volume?

Togo

To me 70C sounds like a very high temp for a gyokuro, and even some senchas (especially fukamishicha), but I guess you could do that if you want to accentuate some other aspects of it. I usually start with close to 50C for the first steep (the time can vary, I judge it be the eye, but could be close to 2 mins) and use very high leaf/water ratios for gyokuro, basically just covering the leaves with water.

Ubacat

Derk, yes, I do use less leaf and more water. I don’t like it when the bitterness creeps in. I like it sweet. I was just a bit surprised with your brew time. Normally I am brewing sencha’s at 70C but I have brewed some gyokuro’s at that too and they have been okay. For gyokuro’s it’s even better at the lower temperatures for the first brew though.

derk

Ubacat, I happen to like bitterness in green teas if the body is there to support it like it is in this one. When I get around to ordering some gyokuro (likely this one), I will give lower leaf:water and shorter steeps a try.

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Bio

Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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