Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yunomi.us & Kurihara Tea: Standard Gyokuro Tea, A Tea Review

Guys, I think I have to replace my favorite teacup. Yes, the adorable small, clear glass one that I use all the time, because it has developed a white film around the rim and NOTHING I do will get rid of it. It is a mystery since none of the other glassware I use has this problem, I assume it was the dishwasher's fault. Maybe sticking my 50 cent possibly from the 70s teacup in the dishwasher was not a good idea. Live and learn and off to the thrift store for a new one!

Today's tea is Standard Gyokuro Tea from Yunomi.us and the Kurihara family, it is grown in the Fukuoko Prefecture in Southern Japan. Gyokuro (Jade Dew) is considered to be the finest of the Japanese Green teas and is grown in the shade, giving it a more delicate, balanced, and sweeter taste than teas like Sencha. This specific Gyokuro, also called Netsuyu Gyokuro, is shaded for a shorter period of time and so is not a premium Gyokuro. I figure this is a perfect place to start since this will be my first ever Gyokuro. The aroma is very green, like fresh grass and moisture, an odd description, but it reminded me of the way cut grass smells after a brief rain storm. There is also a touch of nuttiness and sweetness with an end note of sweet peas.

Once the leaves are steeped the aroma is still very green and sweet, but now there is a very faint kelp and sea air aroma as a delicate undertone. I can also detect delicate chestnut and fruity notes. Everything about the steeped leaves's aroma is delicate and refreshing. The liquid a paradox, it is both delicate and rich mixing grass, kelp, and chestnuts while also being heady. I have never described a tea that was not floral as heady, but the way it knocked me off my figurative feet was certainly a heady response.

Even though the tasting notes from this tea are quite old (poor neglected notebook) I can still recall the bouncing around I did as I was waiting to taste this tea. Fun fact, Gyokuro has been on my 'must try' list since I was in high school (a decade ago, it doesn't seem that long ago) and I could barely contain my excitement. The taste is a bit grassy and sweet like stone fruit, there is a touch of fresh kelp and a touch of spring dew. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and as it cools it becomes honey sweet. The flavors are incredibly subtle while being distinct.

Steeping a second time brings out more of the kelpy and grassy aroma and is not as sweet. The taste is milder, with notes of sweetness and a touch of kelp with a finish of fruit. The fruit taste reminds me a bit of Asian pear (my personal favorite pear) and has the same juicy mouthfeel.

Traditionally you can eat the steeped leaves with a bit of soy sauce like a tasty salad. Before I doused the leaves with sauce I nibbled them and the taste is quite good! Like a mix of seaweed and lettuce with a hint of kale bitterness. Adding soy sauce makes it even more like seaweed salad and leaves me craving sushi.


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