Kurihara Tea #03: Shin (Heart) - Premium Gyokuro Green Tea

Tea type
Green Tea
Ingredients
Green Tea
Flavors
Asparagus, Bitter, Cookie, Dandelion, Kale, Meat, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal, Broth, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chicken Soup, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruity, Leeks, Lime, Medicinal, Nuts, Nutty, Pastries, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, warm grass, Grass
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Loose Leaf
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Togo
Average preparation
155 °F / 68 °C 2 min, 0 sec 7 g 8 oz / 227 ml

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7 Tasting Notes View all

  • “A first gyokuro, courtesy of the benevolent Togo, thank you <3 I think this may also be the first tea I’ve had from our second swap. Is kabusecha a gyokuro? If so, this is my second. It is a...” Read full tasting note
  • “It’s been a long time since I tried a new gyokuro, so I was really excited to open this one as soon as it arrived in mail. I used about 5g for this session and the amount of water was ranging from...” Read full tasting note
    92
  • “First cup delicious (6 g, 60 ml, 40º, 2 min). Prepare in a shiboridashi. The infusion has aan intense yellow green color. First sip sweet with a potent flavour. Tea is creamy, with umami and slight...” Read full tasting note
    81
  • “My first Gyokuro! I tried to do it at least kind of like the “traditional Gyokuro” way I’ve seen in a few places online. First steep used really cool water, probably around 130F for 2 minutes. ...” Read full tasting note
    85

From Yunomi

Gyokuro tea is grown beneath shading, cutting out some 85% of the sunlight. This allows the leaves to mature without obtaining bitterness. The results is an ultra delicate green tea with an extremely sweet taste profile.

Our Heritage Gyokuro is grown beneath traditional, handmade bamboo and/or straw shading. The moisture that drips from this natural shading flavors the tea — a return to the past with this gourmet tea. This Premium Gyokuro uses the exact same process but with easier-to-handle vinyl covering, and is machine-harvested for greater volume and a lower price.

About Yunomi View company

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7 Tasting Notes

572 tasting notes

A first gyokuro, courtesy of the benevolent Togo, thank you <3 I think this may also be the first tea I’ve had from our second swap. Is kabusecha a gyokuro? If so, this is my second.

It is a rough morning in the house of derk. I’ve had to close my door and put on a record to keep the negativity of Housemate #2 at bay. Somewhere along this timeline I acquired a Ravi Shankar album and this is the first performance on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjjOXIoCLPI

I’m still in the midst of this session but feel the need to write. After reading through the reviews of this tea (this is why Steepster is so helpful!), I prepared the entire 7g of dark green, shiny leaves in a 60mL gaiwan since I do not own any Japanese teaware. First boiled the water, then let it cool by passing it between a few vessels, warming the leaves during that process. The warmed leaf emitted a thick cloud of pine, sugar cookie and beef along with a fruity quality.

I did not keep track of steeping times beyond the initial 2 minutes and let the force guide me. The gyokuro soaked up so much water in the first brew that I barely got maybe 25mL of tea. Due to the liquor’s thickness, though, it seems like an appropriate amount to sip. Bitter with a moderate umami, like dandelion greens simmered with lamb or beef bones. Umami aftertaste with lingering bitterness and what I perceived as a whisper of smoke.
The tea maintained this character for at least 3 more steeps.

With the fourth steep a bright sweetness presented at the top back of the mouth. I sipped some of the leftover water that had cooled and that intensified the sweetness. I think this is something I will do in between these small cups. Later, that sweetness seemed to migrate down into my throat and into my chest. I’m on the 7th infusion now and the thickness has faded while the bitterness and beefy umami are still present, now with a lighter but still dark vegetal tone like kale and asparagus. All I’ve had to eat this morning is half a roll smeared with a bit of brie style cheese I picked up from a cheesemaker on my way home from work the other day. My stomach is not queasy at all. I’m pretty relaxed. Gyokuro is interesting. I think I enjoy it more than sencha.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Cookie, Dandelion, Kale, Meat, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 7 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Kawaii433

The tea sounds lovely… Housemate #2 does not. :)

derk

Yeah :/

derk

It is of consolation to me that she left an hour ago for an appointment. Sophia my cat then scratched at my bedroom door. She needed out of our cave. She promptly threw up on Housemate #2’s bed and flokati wool rug. Of course I will clean it up.

Mastress Alita

I haven’t really taken with gyokuro yet. It always tastes very seaweedy to me, which isn’t a note a particularly care for much. I drink it in a tiny amount and feel like I’ve taken one of those little shots of wheatgrass juice, heh. The energy boost from it is amazing, though.

derk

I didn’t get any seaweed from this, like I can from some other greens and oolong. I found it very enjoyable and more calming than energizing.

Ubacat

That seems like a really long first steep for gyokuro. Usually I go only 30 sec to 1 min at 70C and flash steep the next couple of infusions.

derk

Ubacat, I read and loosely followed the links provided in Lion’s review of this tea. Along with shorter steeping times, do you also use a lower amount of leaf to higher vessel volume?

Togo

To me 70C sounds like a very high temp for a gyokuro, and even some senchas (especially fukamishicha), but I guess you could do that if you want to accentuate some other aspects of it. I usually start with close to 50C for the first steep (the time can vary, I judge it be the eye, but could be close to 2 mins) and use very high leaf/water ratios for gyokuro, basically just covering the leaves with water.

Ubacat

Derk, yes, I do use less leaf and more water. I don’t like it when the bitterness creeps in. I like it sweet. I was just a bit surprised with your brew time. Normally I am brewing sencha’s at 70C but I have brewed some gyokuro’s at that too and they have been okay. For gyokuro’s it’s even better at the lower temperatures for the first brew though.

derk

Ubacat, I happen to like bitterness in green teas if the body is there to support it like it is in this one. When I get around to ordering some gyokuro (likely this one), I will give lower leaf:water and shorter steeps a try.

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92
458 tasting notes

It’s been a long time since I tried a new gyokuro, so I was really excited to open this one as soon as it arrived in mail. I used about 5g for this session and the amount of water was ranging from 70ml to 100ml.

Leaves in the preheated kyusu have a pungent smell of beef and brownies that is a little sweet and cooling too. Once they had been submerged in water, aromas like chicken broth and cedar come to the fore. On the other hand, smelling the empty cup is like sticking your nose into a bag with a mixture of gummy bears and nuts.

Overall, I found this gyokuro to have a remarkably balanced, yet evolving taste. It is very delicate and juicy.

For the first infusion, I use 50°C water for about 90s. It yields a super soft, coating and lubricating mouthfeel. The taste is brothy and crisp. Umami is in moderation. Flavours of pine and kale are the ones I can isolate.

Second infusion is a flash one with temperature close to 60°C. The liquor is full bodied, buttery and extremely thick with a slightly minty mouthfeel. Taste is very different from the previous one. It is nutty and grassy with a hint of butter. The protracted aftertaste evolves from savoury to sweet. It leaves a tingling and a bit drying sensation in the mouth and throat. One new flavour that I notice is cauliflower, but there are many vegetal ones too.

Steep number three is done with 70°C water for less than 20s. Again, the taste changed a lot. This time, it is more fruity and sour. I get notes like dried lime (limoo amani), leek and asparagus.

The last two infusions have again increased temperature to 75°C and 85°C respectively. The times also go up to 60s and 180s. These are finally displaying some bitterness. Steep #4 is distinctively medicinal with a hint of thistles. The last one is not bad at all, but doesn’t really bring anyhting new to the table.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed this gyokuro and can recommend it without hesitation.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Broth, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chicken Soup, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruity, Kale, Leeks, Lime, Meat, Medicinal, Nuts, Nutty, Pastries, Pine, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Kawaii433

Sounds so good, added to wishlist. Thanks Togo :D

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81
21 tasting notes

First cup delicious (6 g, 60 ml, 40º, 2 min). Prepare in a shiboridashi. The infusion has aan intense yellow green color. First sip sweet with a potent flavour. Tea is creamy, with umami and slight aftertaste. I appreciate a slight astringency, but would not say it is a fault in this tea.
My second steeping (60 ml, 50-60 ºC, 30"-1’) is nice though it lost most of the sweetness and umami of the first one.

Flavors: Sweet, warm grass, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 6 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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85
486 tasting notes

My first Gyokuro! I tried to do it at least kind of like the “traditional Gyokuro” way I’ve seen in a few places online. First steep used really cool water, probably around 130F for 2 minutes. On this steep, I also used a good deal less water than I normally do (I have an 8 oz kyusu, which I normally fill around halfway to use my 4oz teacup when drinking Japanese greens – I just filled it a bit under halfway on this one). This first steep was kind of outta this world. Super thick, umami vegetal flavors. First time I’ve felt any qi from a non-puerh tea. It was crazy good. After that, I did a steep at 195F for about 12s, as suggested on the bag. That steep was also good – lots of umami and that strong vegetal grassy taste as well, though nowhere near as powerful as the first. After that, I kept the water at 195 and did a few more steeps – I think 20s, 30s, 45s maybe. They all still had some umami which may have started to trend more towards bitterness while still keeping a decently thick texture with a nice and sweet grassy aftertaste. I definitely need to put more Gyokuro on my next Yunomi order – which I’m already working on, having been inspired by this one :)

Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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306 tasting notes

Before you read my review, just know that I am brewing this the traditional Japanese way, which is very flavor-intense and different than the way most Westerners brew Gyokuro.

Here’s a very short article about what the difference is:
http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2014/02/gyokuro-is-not-something-to-drink.html

And the brewing method is here: http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-brew-gyokuro.html

It is also the same leaf to water ratio that was recommended in the gyokuro tip sheet Yunomi sent me with the teas… so I guess this is at least a somewhat common method in Japan.

I mention this because my first gyokuro review had a lot of people wondering why my experience with the tea was so much different than theirs. This is primarily why.

That said, on to the review. I drank this prior to writing this review so I don’t have it right in front of me and I didn’t take notes. All I can say is I actually didn’t taste a significant difference between this one and the last one I tried “#04 Standard Gyokuro (Kabusecha)” from Kurihara Tea Farm other than this one was slightly less bitter. The umami flavor is intense, fills your mouth very quickly, and it takes a long time just to sip a tiny 20-30ml cup of it. It’s a really interesting experience. It resteeps okay once, but after that you’re digging into the bitter flavors in the leaf quite a bit so I really only drank two infusions of it.

It made a delicious green tea salad afterward.

I’ve decided not to rate Gyokuro teas unless I find myself really loving one. I believe in trying to appreciate them with the traditional method of brewing instead of diluting it to suit my tastes, and so far the traditional method is just so new and abstract to me that it is very difficult for me to tell if I enjoy it or not. I think the quality of these teas is good, but I cannot particularly evaluate them because the flavor and feeling of this tea is just so unlike anything else I’ve ever had. It can be a little overwhelming, but it is also very savory and enjoyable in some aspects.

If you’ve never used the traditional method to prepare gyokuro, I recommend doing it at least once. It’s a trip.

Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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987 tasting notes

Sipdown!

I slightly overleafed this since I didn’t have enough to justify leaving any leftover leaf when I made my pot of tea this morning. To compensate, I took the steep time down to 2 minutes rather than the 3 minutes I tried previously.

The tea was still a tad bitter, but otherwise not bad. Slightly umami and astringent, but nothing too overpowering. I’ll see if I can get a resteep out of this.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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