Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea of the highest quality, and one that I always look forward to drinking. It is considered one of the highest grades because the processing of this tea is complex, including covering the tea trees with shades during growth. This reduces the tannin content of the leaves, which is responsible for the distinctive dark green appearance and sweet taste of this tea.
The first thing that I noticed about this tea was that the leaves of this Gyokuro are smaller than those of another Gyokuro that I own. But the smell was promising.
Gyokuro is best brewed with water that is not brought to a full boil (maximum of 140°F or 60°C) and should not be steeped for more than 30 seconds on the first brew. This is slightly less than you might do for other green teas as this particular tea is a higher grade and more delicate and tender than most green teas; over boiling or over steeping can very quickly cause Gyokuro to taste bitter, completely ruining its subtle flavours.
Like all high-grade green teas, Gyokuro can be re-steeped several times. Depending on you personal taste preferences, up to 5 times, and so, although it may be a slightly more expensive tea, if you know how to brew it properly, you can certainly get your money’s worth.
For the first steep, I let the tea brew for 30 seconds and then promptly removed the infuser. The sweet, steamed taste that I associate with Gyokuro was immediately recognisable, and this blend produced a rich and full first steep. Very satisfied, I went on to try a second and third brew.
For the second steep, I also let the leaves brew for 30 seconds, not wanting to overdo it. Although this was the second steep, it still produced a flavourful cup- not quite as rich as the first, but often this second brew is the one that people prefer. For the third steep I left the infuser in for 45 seconds. This brew was still thoroughly drinkable, but not as satisfying for my taste as the first two, perhaps because I had let it brew for too long.
For the second fresh batch of leaves I tried, I left the third steep in for closer to 40 seconds, and this slight alteration made a difference. It was a lighter, weaker brew than the first two steeps, but the sweet flavour was still noticeable and not at all impeded.
Gyokuro is a green tea with a lovely flavour, and in this blend from the English Tea Store this distinctive taste is in full force.
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