Karigane (Gyokuro Kukicha)

Tea type
Green Tea
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Green, Vegetal
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Edit tea info Last updated by just john
Average preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 15 sec 2 g 5 oz / 162 ml

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From Den's Tea

Kukicha is usually made from the stems and stalks of Sencha. In the Kyoto area Kukicha is called “Karigane” and is made from Gyokuro.
Den’s Karigane is 100% first flush Gyokuro Kukicha grown in Asahina, Shizuoka – one of prestige Gyokuro producing areas.
Gyokuro leaves contain higher levels of theanine – a factor of Umami or sweetness – than Sencha leaves. Kukicha or twig tea also contains higher levels theanine than tea made with just leaves. Consequently, you can imagine how Den’s Karigane has an impressive flavor. It is like mixing Gyokuro’s Umami and Kukicha’s green vegetable flavor.

Origin: Asahina, Shizuoka
Harvest: First Flush 2013
Species: Yabukita & Okumidori

Tasting Profile:
Similar to Gyokuro, Karigane has a good level of Umami and like Kukicha is also has a mild green vegetable flavor. The vegetable flavor lingers for a while and the Umami comes back as an after taste.
Karigane is a tea that can be brewed “casually”. Try a slightly higher water temperature or vary the brewing time to find the flavor that suits your taste.

Den’s Preferred Brewing:
Water: 3oz @ 180F
Leaves: 2 grams or 1 heaping teaspoon
Steep: 60 sec
2nd Cup: Water boiled; Steep 15 sec

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11 Tasting Notes

921 tasting notes

Today we are experiencing something beautiful, a blend of emerald and jade colored leaves, Karigane (Gyokuro Kukicha). This very pretty tea is made from the stems and stalks of Gyokuro, the famed Jade Dew Japanese Green tea. For those who do not know, Kukicha is usually made from the stalks and stems of Sencha, and Gyokuro is thought of as one of the finest Japanese teas and it is certainly one of the priciest. I have never tried Gyokuro (I do have some on the way from Japan, exciting!) so I was excited to dip my…you know, foot doesn’t really work in this analogy, so tongue into this pool of tea. The aroma of this exceptionally visually pleasing tea is very sweet for a green tea and delightfully vegetal. The vegetal notes are that of artichoke, a touch of chestnut, and a mild underlying hint of kelp. I really love how mild the aroma of this tea is.

Time to officially break in the new pot! The leaves take on a hint of lime that mixes with notes of woodsy and herbaceous. It smells like stems! Picking up the aroma of stems and knowing, I am smelling stems, really put a smile on my face. I also detects notes of the beloved umami, which is exciting. The liquid once the leaves have been removed (or, once I have poured it out of my Kyusu) has a mixture of sweet vegetal and umami. I am not going to lie, the aroma of the infused leaves is making me salivate.

The first thing I notice is umami goodness, I love that aspect of certain green teas, the savory umami taste is delicious and reminds me of eating certain seaweeds. There are also notes of chestnut that give the tea a bit of sweetness. As the tea cools the gentle sweetness becomes significantly sweeter and it masks the umami. The texture becomes almost creamy and it makes my mouth feel alive (juices like wine, I’m on the hunt I’m after you…sorry, 80s moment) I am amazed at how complex the flavor is for a tea that is so pale, more proof that looks can be deceiving when it comes to teas. I certainly cannot wait to try Gyokuro now.

For blog post and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/dens-tea-karigane-gyokuro-kukicha-tea.html

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592 tasting notes

I just read my previous tasting note about this tea, and I think that it really nailed my thoughts today about the thick mouthfeel and sweet, vegetal flavors. So I’ll just say that it’s a really nice tea to warm me up on this surprisingly chilly morning (when will I ever stop being surprised by the weather around these parts?).

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95 tasting notes

I usually don’t like Japanese greens—too seaweedy for me unless it’s a flavored Sencha. This is lovely. Dry leaf has a sweet grass smell, wet leaf gets wonderfully nutty. It tastes sort of like a roasty Longjing but with a subtle seaweed taste. Not fishy by any means.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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18 tasting notes

Bright and grassy both in nose and taste this is what straight up green tea should be. It’s just a mild round green hug. Both the first and second pulls were equally awesome.

If made via the instructions, 1 rounded teaspoon per 3 ozs, then this is going to be one pricey (but tasty) tea. However I did the unthinkable and on the third (yes, third, the shame!) pull I actually used my usual green tea approach of 165 degrees and used a ratio of 1 rounded teaspoon per 8ozs. The results were wonderful! In fact, I had thought it would be so weak that I let it over steep! The idea that you could over steep on a third pool hadn’t occurred to me.

If you like clean vegetal green tea, a ‘straight up’ green tea taste then this is a winner!

Flavors: Green, Vegetal

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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294 tasting notes

I wanted to love this, I really did, but unfortunately I did not.

I followed the provided directions: 180 degrees F, 60 seconds, 1 tsp to 3oz
This was a rich dark green, and smelled sweet and vegetal, a good sign. Unfortunatly it didn’t taste how it smelled. Theres a strong sharp bitterness to this tea. I can detect a slight vegetal note in the background, but the bitterness masked it. I don’t know if all the little bits at the bottom continued to steep while it cooled, or what, so until I try it again I’ll put off giving it a rating. As is though, it would be about 25.

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182 tasting notes

ok maybe it is my taste buds, but is this the second over-umami’d green tea from Den’s in a row for me? i like it, but i don’t believe i could drink this all day. i’ll try a second steeping out of curiosity, i’m sure, but this is just too…TOO. there’s something sharper, more ribbed and less squishy about my favorite Sencha Fuka-Midori, i’m not really sure what causes it or how to describe it. but this tea makes me miss it.

perhaps i’m not classy enough or something, but the pricier, more exclusive teas seem to NOT be my favorites. this one gets a solid C from me.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

oh wait, i just realized. higher temps cause these teas to taste less like the ideal, right? perhaps 2nd steeping will be boilt. off to go try.


Gyokuros like very low temps and longer steeps. I would try it at 140 for two minutes and see how that works.


good thing i’m a procrastinator, as i didn’t yet go boil those leaves. trying your advice right now! (the above was the Den’s recommended treatment, btw.) (dangit, i really need a tea thermometer. i’m going to have to go with “feels about 20 deg cooler than last time” LOL!)


Good luck!


OH i liked that! the seaweed was under control, and the vegetable-y was improved! liked so much i’m going to try again with fresh tea and your parameters!
Thanks, Morgana! U rock!


Great! So glad it turned out.

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