UJI GYOKURO (宇治玉露) by Yoshida San
Liquid poetry from a family with a 3 century tradition of tea.
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.
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 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) is allowed to mature (i.e. mellow down) a few months. This tea, however, is 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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Yoshida San
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