I bought this package of Gyokuro in mesh tea bags about 3 years ago at my local Mitsuwa (Mitsuwa is a Japanese/Asian grocery store outside of Chicago, and my local one is about a 2 1/2 hour drive away!). I had it at work for a year, didn’t drink it much, then brought it home when I left my job and still didn’t drink it much. Luckily, the individual tea bags are packaged in plastic/mylar sealed envelopes and this tea doesn’t seem to have changed since I bought it and tried it at work. Oh, except that the water at work tasted GROSS and I didn’t have a temperature-controlled kettle there so I was guessing on the temperature. I can only hope that any job I might get in the future has decent-tasting water if I am ever going to have tea at work again. For right now: I drink unemployed. At home. Where I have lovely water—and access to nice packaged spring water if that’s what I feel like using.
In the leaf, this is not really in the leaf: it’s in tiny pieces. Maybe this is the broken pieces left over from processing gyokuro in larger leaf form, that then gets sold at a more expensive price? I don’t know if they do that, but it would explain why this is relatively cheap (currently retails on the Walmart.com website at $7.20, which I guess is not grocery-store priced, but then bulk gyokuro is normally very expensive; Harney & Sons’ 4 oz. loose tin is currently $65). There isn’t much in each tea bag either; it looks like a scant teaspoon. It has the dark green look that gyokuro leaves should have, and smells grassy and rich like other gyokuro I’ve had.
Unfortunately in the brew, while it has that typical light green almost fluorescent look, it’s not as flavorful as other gyokuros I’ve had. I know from experience that the package directions of steeping for 30-60 sec. are meant to be followed (I tried it once for 3 minutes, and it was undrinkably bitter), yet everything about the taste and scent at a little more than a minute is muted: grassiness, but only a bit; butteriness, but only a bit; spinach-y, but only a bit.
What I get in terms of taste is primarily mineral-ish/bitter, and this gets stronger over the course of drinking the cup, because there is tea powder in the bottom of the cup, which keeps brewing during drinking. Hoping not to have this happen, I normally brew anything powdery or tiny (like rooibos) in a paper filter so this does NOT happen. If I wanted to drink tea powder I’d drink matcha! And I usually don’t. It adds to the caffeine content and overbrews naturally delicate tea, and in this case it’s giving me a tummy ache. If I’m going to consume tea leaf, I want to KNOW I’m consuming tea leaf. And in this case I didn’t notice it until halfway through the cup, though I should have known since the liquor itself is not transparent.
In total: if you like gyokuro, want to pay less for it and have the convenience of tea bags, and don’t mind extra tea powder that affects the flavor/consistency/caffeine content, this is your tea. If you merely like gyokuro, meh, don’t bother.
Flavors: Butter, Cut grass, Mineral, Spinach, Thick, Vegetal