Ok. So. On one of the many occasions where DavidsTea gives a free 50g of your choice, I picked Gyokuro. I would have preferred the Gyokuro Yamashiro but they never had it in stock :I Anyway! Point is, I have tried this tea, and tried to like it, so, soooooo many times.
This and the other Japanese Greens by DT made me thing green tea just wasn’t my thing, because I’d always end up with a bitter and unpleasantly astringent cup, even though I’d try cooler temperatures, shorter steeping times, gong fu bastardization, etc. Until, I tried their Japanese Sencha. Dang. It changed my mind on what green tea should taste like. From there I’ve been inspired to go revisiting other japanese samples in my tea cupboard and trying to wrangle em.
Basically, what my green tea wants from me is absurdly cool water. Now, my tea is a little underleafed so its a bit weak, but I finally taste what its supposed to be. My next cup is going to have less water so I can focus on flavour.
A long-ish rinse right under a cool tap in my perfect steeper is needed to get rid of the millions of tea dust bits that fall through even the tiny holes of the DT perfect steeper and into the bottom of the cup where they bitter-ify everything.
Next, water at 65C. Not 80C like the bag says, not 74C like the thermometer says. I’ve tried doing short steeps at these temperatures and they came out bitter and awful no matter what. But at 65C, it tastes mellow and the butteriness comes out. I’m going to further experiment in the future to see if this tea can handle a little hotter, like 67-68 or 70 without going to crap.
Anyway, basically, I need 65C water and short 30second steeps. But really, is my water weird or something? No one else seems to be having these difficulties!
Anyway, there’s no bitterness now, just a slight vegetal and slight buttery flavour – I think I can sense some sweetness and salt, but again, I think I underleafed for such a short steep, which would explain the light/weak flavour. Yay for bastardized gong fu… Well, I’ll be getting a real gaiwan in the mail soon enough!
Gonna go for a second steep now with a little less water.
Edit: Second steep was a bit too long @50seconds. Oops. Less water so there’s more flavour, but the tea has lost most of that slight butteryness, but now has a thicker feel in the mouth and I can taste more oceany flavours – a pleasant light briney kind of taste like seaweed + some dry land kinda vegetal. Its a little bit bitter and a little more astringent but I’ll put that down to the length of the steep, its still acceptable to me. Gonna go for a third with a shorter steep and the same amount of water.
Its a very finicky tea… I’m sure a top notch gyokuro would taste a good bit different. Would love to try the yamashiro version since it should be more buttery.
2nd Edit: 3rd steep – rinsed with cool tap water for 5 second, then steeped for 65C for 35 seconds. Bitterness and astringency have retreated. The seaweed taste is still slightly there, like an essence, which is nice, but now theres an interesting, very sunny taste that makes me think of the taste in the air when theres a warm breeze on a warm fresh kind of day… and at the end of the sip a sweetness on the tip of my tongue thats just plain sugary. Its SUGARY. All my wat. Not like sweetened green tea – more like a sip of tea gets swallowed and then someone sprinkles a few granules of sugar on the tongue.
anyway, on my 4th steep and its a bit buttery, but weak and no longer interesting.
Flavors: Butter, Seaweed, Vegetal