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LEARN: About Yoshida San's Uji Gyokuro & Temomi Gyokuro

Posted by Pedro Villalon on

ABOUT THE TEA: 
Gyokuro (玉露), translates, literally, as 'jade dew'. Like matcha, this tea is grown under the shade (using a canopy of straw) for several weeks, resulting in an intensely green colour and crazy umami.  

Gyokuro, unlike sencha, is traditionally not released as 'shincha' (new tea, freshly picked, handcrafted, and released in spring). Like tencha (the base for matcha) it is allowed to mature (i.e. mellow down) a few months. These teas, however, are difficult not to drink right now! We'll do our best to hold on to a pack or two to drink in 6 months and report the evolution.

ABOUT THE GROWER:
Yoshida San is one of the most meticulous tea artists that we’ve met; the family has been making tea over roughly 300 years, and this is reflected obsessive attention to detail.  In recent years, Yoshida San has launched some single cultivar and two cultivar blends that we are very impressed with.

 

 

UJI GYOKURO 
Liquid poetry from a family with a 3-century tradition of tea.

After knowing Yoshida San for 6 years and enjoying some outstanding tea from this most generous family, we learned (through a mutual friend) that his uncle was certified as 'Cultural Heritage of Uji'.  Yoshida Kisaburo was the 14th generation of tea artisans in the family; he was recognized because of his 'temomi' (tea handcrafting) technique.  We also learned that Yoshida San's temomi tea was presented to the Emperor on the first year of Reiwa.

We have a VERY limited amount of this tea. Using hand-picked young leaves (1 bud & 2 leaves) and kneaded for hours on charcoal heated, traditional gyokuro table, Yoshida San crafts batches of no more than 700g of this tea.  

Suggestion: after brewing your tea, EAT the leaves. You'll be happy you did.

TASTING EXPERIENCE: 
Liquid poetry; a lukewarm brew that takes you on a trip through Yoshida San's tea fields in Oguracho (Uji) in spring. It is a particularly floral gyokuro with the richness of grilled asparagus.

CULTIVAR: 
Uji Hikari (宇治光) is an unregistered cultivar; it is mostly grown in the Kansai region as a prime ingredient for shade-grown teas (kabuse, gyokuro, matcha). In matcha and gyokuro blends, it is often included to add a crisp, green edge.

ORIGIN: 
Ogura Cho (Uji), Kyoto, Japan   |   35ºN 136ºE

BREWING GUIDE:
We hate to sound corny... but we highly recommend take your time while brewing this tea. The following steps gave a stunning cup a few minutes ago.

  • Add hot water to your kyusu (teapot) to warm it up; you can return the clean water into your kettle.
  • Use ~4g of tea (about 1 tablespoon) in your kyusu; in this method, it is not critical to use a scale.
  • Pour water at ~50ºC (definitely NOT hot) in your cup(s); the water will, of course, cool down a bit.
  • Slowly pour water from your cup(s) into the teapot, carefully bathing all the tea leaves, covering them until perhaps 1mm - 2mm of water surpass the leaves. Watch them as they unfold and absorb the water.
  • Once the leaves soak enough water (and water is no longer visible on top), slowly cover them with water from your cup. Watch them soak all the water again.
  • Repeat the steps above until the leaves can absorb no more water.  Then, slowly serve your tea.

 

TEMOMI GYOKURO
This tea is a gem, handcrafted by a man that is registered as 'Cultural Heritage of Uji'

TASTING EXPERIENCE: 
...is not easy to express. There are clear notes of green walnuts and a long lingering aftertaste of green peach. However, the happiness after drinking this tea is difficult to describe.

CULTIVAR - Samidori
SHADING TIME - 32 days
HARVEST & HANDCRAFTING DATE - 
04.05.2021
LOT SIZE - 
700g

BREWING GUIDE:
We hate to sound corny... but we highly recommend take your time while brewing this tea. The following steps gave a stunning cup a few minutes ago.

  • Add hot water to your kyusu (teapot) to warm it up; you can return the clean water into your kettle.
  • Use ~4g of tea (about 1 tablespoon) in your kyusu; in this method, it is not critical to use a scale.
  • Pour water at ~50ºC (definitely NOT hot) in your cup(s); the water will, of course, cool down a bit.
  • Slowly pour water from your cup(s) into the teapot, carefully bathing all the tea leaves, covering them until perhaps 1mm - 2mm of water surpass the leaves. Watch them as they unfold and absorb the water.
  • Once the leaves soak enough water (and water is no longer visible on top), slowly cover them with water from your cup. Watch them soak all the water again.
  • Repeat the steps above until the leaves can absorb no more water.  Then, slowly serve your tea.

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