Gyokuro is a fine and expensive type of green tea from Japan. It differs from the standard green tea known as sencha, because it is grown under the shade rather than the full sun. Gyokuro was developed at Uji in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Even today, it is grown almost exclusively in the Kyoto region. The name "gyokuro" translates as "jade dew" and refers to the pale green colour of the infusion. The name comes from the product name given to the tea by the Yamamotoyama Tea Company. The tea was first discovered by Yamamotoyama's sixth owner, Yamamoto Kahei, in 1835 (TenpÅ year 6). The process was completed by another manufacturer at the start of the Meiji period. The greatest appellation of gyokuro is Yame, in Fukuoka Prefecture in terms of both quality and quantity. More than 40% of gyokuro is produced in Yame, and in the national tea jury in August 2007, gyokuro of Yame held all the ranking positions from first to 26th as the best gyokuro.The Uji district is the oldest gyokuro-producing region in Japan.
Gyokuro is grown from the tea varietal known as Yabukita, which is a small leaf, sweet tea that is used in many of Japan's highest quality green teas. Gyokuro is made only with the earliest leaf buds of the spring harvest. It is grown in the shade before harvest by the way of "Tana" which requires skillful technique and great care. Several weeks before it is harvested, straw mats, thatched roofs or other protective coverings are placed above the tea bushes to mute the springtime sunlight from above. This causes the amino acids (theanine) and caffeine in the tea leaves to increase, while catechins (the source of bitterness in tea, along with caffeine) decreases, giving rise to a sweet flavour. The tea also gains a distinct aroma from the covering process. Noble aroma and elegant sweetness are created by the shaded from sunlight of the "Tana" technique. Careful control over the processing is necessary because the shade-grown leaf buds are softer and hold more moisture and flavor than many other kinds of green tea.
First, the carefully picked leaves are lightly steamed to prevent oxidation. The second step is an initial rolling and then air-drying, before a fine rolling to acquire shape and flavor. The result is a raw tea known as aracha, a rough grade of tea with high water content. The aracha is later sorted into various leaf grades, known as tencha. The finest grades of tencha are then selected to make Gyokuro. At this stage, the tea undergoes many lengthy rolling and drying stages to finish the tea into its needle-like form. Finally, the finished tea is allowed to settle or mature for at least a week in order to further develop its characteristic flavors.
Dry Gyokuro is comprised of long, deep green, needle-like leaves with sweet aromas of buttered corn, toasted hazelnuts and steamed greens. Brewed, the leaves offer more vegetal aromas. The intense yellow-green infusion has a mellow, bittersweet scent. Gyokuro has several unique features: an elegant aroma, a sweetness of taste, and a light green colour.
- Pour hot water into a pot for preheating. Wait until the temperature gets down to 70âï½75âï¼
- Pour the hot water into 3 cups (30ml each) from the pot for preheating. Wait until the temperature gets down to 60âï½65â?
- Pour the water from the 3 cups into a small bowl in which it can cool off.
- Put Gyokuro tea leaves in the pot. For 3 servings, 3 full tea spoons of tea (about 7-8 g). For 5 servings, 4 full tea spoons (about 10-12 g).
- When the temperature of the warm water has fallen to 50âï½55â? the water is ready.
- Pour the warm water back into the pot from the small bowl, and wait for 1.5 - 2 minutes for the first infusion.
- Pour the tea evenly into the 3 cups to obtain the same taste and concentration. Do not leave any tea in the pot, but pour all out to the last drop.
- For a second infusion, use water of a little higher temperature than for the first (55âï½60â? and let the tea draw for only 30 seconds before pouring it into the cups.
- For a third infusion, use water of even higher temperature than for the second and let the tea draw for only 15 seconds.