Uji Gyokuro (宇治田原玉露) is a particularly fine Japanese green tea from Uji Tawara, Kyoto Prefecture, a location said to be the ‘home of Japanese green tea’. The name gyokuro translates as jade dew and is a reference to the fine pale green colour of the liquor. This Uji Gyokuro is made from a cultivar that is specifically chosen and grown for gyokuro green tea. During the growth the tea trees are also shaded, resulting in a stronger, more flavoursome tea. When brewed in a traditional style, it produces a thick liquor with plenty of sweet, creamy and savoury grassy notes. This batch is from the May 2020 harvest.
Gyokuro undergoes a growing process that is unique and differs from most other tea growing. During growth the tea plants are shaded for about 20 days prior to harvesting that typically occurs in May of each year. High quality tea such as this Uji Gyokuro is normally shaded using traditional shades made out of bamboo that cover the tea plants from up to 90% of the sun. The covering of the tea forces the tea plants to slow the rate of photosynthesis, leading to higher levels of theanine. This change in chemistry of the leaves creates a much sweeter, mellower taste with a bolder character that is grassy and rich in umami flavours. The covering of the tea also creates a unique rich aroma that gyokuro is known for.
Our Uji Gyokuro has attractively coloured dark green leaves with a bright, green scent that has notes of dried seaweed. The leaves produce a lime-green semi-opaque liquor with has a lightly vegetal, fresh aroma. The taste is classic gyokuro green tea; it is thick, soupy, with plenty of umami. The combination of a silky mouthfeel with sweet creamy notes gives an impression of a matcha latte. The dominant flavours are savoury, grassy, green with notes of almonds and asparagus. The lasting savoury aftertaste continues to provide plenty of green umami flavours with some notes of sea salt and a lightly acidic edge. It is a beautiful example of a high end Japanese gyokuro green tea.
You can brew this tea Western style (2.5g of tea per 200-250ml) but you will not get the full flavour profile that Gyokuro is famous for. To get the most when brewing Western style, you should use at least twice the amount of leaves you normally would. That way you are closer to enjoying the authentic flavours of real gyokuro. Using this method, brew at 60°C for 1-2 mins in multiple infusions.
But for best results we find 10g per 200ml-250ml of water to be the correct amount for this tea. Brew using good quality water that has been heated to 60°C and using traditional Japanese teaware. As you are using lower temperature water, preheating your teaware prior to brewing is a particularly good idea. In our testing, a first infusion of 90 seconds followed by multiple infusions at around 60 seconds, worked particularly well. As always, keep increasing steeping time until no flavour is left.