Good morning, dear tea friends! It may be autumn outside, with dried up leaves rattling against my house like old bones, but inside I have springtime in my cup. My morning cuppa is a beautiful selection from Japan, called Organic Gyokuro.
Produced in the spring from the first plucking of the tea bush, Gyokuro is one of Japan’s most treasured teas.
What distinguishes a Gyokuro tea from other Japanese green teas is that as soon as the bushes start to flush with new growth, they are shaded. The first shading method, called tana, is when a black netting is thrown over trellises that have been built up around the rows of tea bushes. The second method, called jikagise, is when each bush is individually wrapped in cloth.
The bushes will grow in the shade for approximately 3 weeks. The shading increases the chlorophyll production which in turn affects the balance of caffeine, flavanols and sugar in the leaf. The absence of photosynthesis also increases the theanine component in the leaf. Theanine is an amino acid that gives tea its vegetal taste. With the increase of theanine, Gyokuro tea is quite vegetal.
I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under 180F water.
The dry leaves have a fresh, nutty aroma, however, when submerged in water, the leaves impart a sweet, vegetal fragrance.
The infusion is the color of light yellow jade, sparkling in the sunlight streaming through my windows. The cup is rich and brothy with a strong umami flavor, complemented by a smooth sweetness. Truly a Japanese tea lover’s delight!
Enjoy your weekend and your tea!
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”
~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast