Gyokuro

Gyokuro
$21

 

One of the highest grades of Japanese teas. The fresh, grassy aroma and sweet taste result from the bushes being shaded with rattan mats to reduce chlorophyll two weeks prior to plucking.

In ancient Japan, Gyokuru was referred to as “history, philosophy and art in a single cup.” And why not? For many centuries the variety was known as Japan’s greatest green tea. Unfortunately, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011, much of Japan’s tea crop was affected with Cesium 137 forcing many tea companies, including Metropolitan Tea to find new sources for traditionally Japanese tea varieties. Thankfully, before the disaster, many Japanese tea manufacturers had already begun setting up shop in China to produce teas for the internal market using Japanese machinery, varietals and techniques. What’s more, China’s prime growing season is in spring, when our company traditionally makes tea purchases. The decision to place food safety over tradition was made and Metropolitan has now begun purchasing all Japanese style teas from China – including this delicious Gyokuro.

So, just how is this fabulous tea made? Gyokuro is made from single buds that are picked only in April/May. In an effort to encourage chlorophyll development (responsible for the dark green color) and reduce tannin levels (the source of its sweet favor), the tea is covered with black curtains, bamboo or straw shades for 3 weeks before plucking. The leaves are small – about 3/4 of an inch long and extremely fragrant and tender. Immediately after plucking they are taken to the factory and steamed for about 30 minutes to seal in flavors and arrest fermentation. Next they are fluffed with hot air, pressed and dried to around 30% moisture content. The tea is then rolled repeatedly until it resembles long thin dark green needles, then dried until around 4-6% moisture content. The tea is then ready for drinking! (Gyokuro is usually brewed in a Japanese Kyushu style teapot and served in cups with no handle.)