When talk about Gyokuro, the Japanese always associate it with 3 famous places: Kyoto-Uji, Fukuoka-Yame and Shizuoka Okabe Asahina. In fact, these 3 places are located at lower altitudes at around 100-300m. In general, people always appreciate tea from much higher altitude as those teas are giving very long lasting after taste compared to the one from low land. Gyokuro from these places are famous due to the Japanese culture that people in the tea line tend to emphasize the “seaweed aroma” and amino-rich taste rather than the “long lasting after taste”.
Hon Yama Hebizuka Gyokuro does not come from any of the places mentioned above. It is produced in Hon Yama, Shizuoka City. Hon Yama area is located deep inside the mountain along the Abe river stream. It is a historically famous tea growing area since the Edo era.
There is another point that makes Hebizuka Gyokuro very special and different from ordinary Gyokuro. Its production involves a very unique process. Hebizuka Gyokuro undergoes the “withering process” which is rarely carried out in the process of Japanese green tea. Usually the withering process is an essential process in making oolong, black tea and white tea. Withering means dehydration of tea leaves which is the similar process in making dried flower and different from faded flavor. The withering process deliberately causes the dehydration shock that triggers enzymatic ripening and generate floral flavor in the tea leaves.
Plucking is carried out when the tea leaves grow slightly more than ordinary standard. Late plucking is purposely done so that tea leaves increase the amount of poly phenol. It is the same practice in making the oolong tea that requires more poly phenol content in order to intensify the flowery flavor. Leaves that are plucked at the very early stage contain less organic substance and the intensity of flavor is relatively weaker.
Hon Yama Hebizuka Gyokuro is the tea that is made by the collaboration between fine material from the High Mountain and unique process which involves withering. The flowery flavor and the deep after taste of Hebizuka Gyokuro are unforgettable once you drink it.
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