drank Gyokuro by Harney & Sons
612 tasting notes

Looking at this I’m reminded of how my husband’s father was in Japan a few years ago (he goes every couple years on business—so lucky!!) and came back with gifts from the president of his company of green tea in tins only labeled in Japanese. Not knowing what it was he gave it to us after having it around a while (so, you know, stale). Only now do I realize it was probably gyokuro (looked and smelled like it), a whole huge tin of it! Ah.

Truth is I wasn’t expecting to like this even though it is highly prized—unlike with Chinese green tea I’m pretty hit or miss with Japanese greens, and usually when I like one it’s because it’s flavored (cue gasps of horror from tea snobs here, hee) or otherwise not very archetypally green tea-y (think genmaicha and hojicha). On the other hand, I really loved Harney’s tencha when I tried it so I figured I’d give this a whirl not expecting much. But I rather like it! It still leaves that gradual build up of film on the teeth typical of Japanese greens, think the one you get after eating lots of raw spinach or oxalic acid-rich foods (chard, beets), but it’s much much lighter, so light it’s not unappealing. And there’s none of the scrubby lemoniness sencha tends to have that I don’t really like in more than rare small doses. The colors of the leaves and finished cup are beautiful and distinct, so bright plant-y green! And I love the smell, which isn’t grassy or harsh at all but like mouthwateringly fresh sweet vegetables. The taste is quite spinachy but in a good way, not a mouth-scrubbing raw greenness so much as lightly cooked spinach, with a feeling it’s been amped up richness-wise with butter or something savory and heavy-enticing and possibly lightly salted like that. Yum! I’m not used to Japanese greens being so filling and satisfying, almost like that Autumn Laoshan Green I just swooned over for the umpteenth time but with more fresh veggie smell. There is a juiciness too I’m enjoying.

I like this a lot and can see why it’s so beloved, fetching high prices. I can also see how, oddly enough, it would be ideal as a first-thing morning tea because of the caffeine (is it just me or do pure greens jolt other people way more obviously with energy than brisk black teas? If I resteep a couple greens midday I end up jittery as all get out, have to be careful in a way I don’t with even the strongest blacks), the bright greenness of the flavor perking up the senses, and the way it feels like a big bowl of freshly cooked sweet veggies, a very warm welcome back to life, a true “break fast”. It leaves one with the impression of color and life. Delicious.

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

I love gyokuro! But I’ve never had this one :)


truth is i was kind of hoping not to like it, because dayum, i find myself liking more and more different kinds of teas and it’s getting unwieldy to imagine restocks (plus, this and tencha are ‘spensive!). ha. but yeah…i think i’m coming around with japanese teas, at least stuff besides sencha. durn it! (:

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I love gyokuro! But I’ve never had this one :)


truth is i was kind of hoping not to like it, because dayum, i find myself liking more and more different kinds of teas and it’s getting unwieldy to imagine restocks (plus, this and tencha are ‘spensive!). ha. but yeah…i think i’m coming around with japanese teas, at least stuff besides sencha. durn it! (:

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“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.


Memphis, TN



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