The highest quality green tea gyokuro is reputably called “King of green teas”. It is very valuable and rare, and some high-class gyokuro is even valued 20 times higher than the ordinary teas.
Although gyokuro is not so common to drink, if you have an opportunity, hope it is brewed in a genuine way to fully enjoy its goodness.
Taste and flavor of gyokuro
Gyokuro tastes less bitter, and smooth with strong sweetness and umami. It also has a characteristic aroma called “Oika” that’s only in gyokuro and smells like green seaweed. The taste of gyokuro is stunning and absolutely unforgettable.
Before brewing gyokuro
First of all, let’s see what you need to know to brew gyokuro.
The tools to brew gyokuro are mostly the same as sencha’s, but we also introduce some good-to-have tools to use for the more genuine brewing.
Hohin is a kyusu teapot with no handle. It is used when wanting to thoroughly extract umami from teas like gyokuro and high-end sencha.
No handles needed on the teapot when brewing gyokuro as it is thoroughly brewed at a low temperature and the teapot wouldn’t get hot.
Hohin is not generally available in households, but it is very common to have in the Uji area where a great amount of high-end teas are produced.
But, if you don’t have one, there would be no problem using a kyusu instead.
Yuzamashi (cooling pot)
Yuzamashi is used to cool boiling water. Since gyokuro is brewed and thoroughly extracted at a low temperature, hot water cooled in the yuzamashi is used to brew gyokuro.
If you don’t have a yuzamashi, pour boiling water in a kyusu and pour the water in yunomi, then pour it back in the kyusu….,and repeat a couple of times.
Gyokuro is to enjoy small sips rather than gulps.
Therefore, we recommend using small yunomi tea cups.
If you don’t have one, there would absolutely be no problem using the general size yunomi tea cups or mugs.
If you don’t have a chasaji, you can use a teaspoon or a measuring spoon instead.
The weight of tea leaves for one cup is measured about 3g which is also about one heaping teaspoon.
There are actually a variety of chasaji designs, which attracts so many chasaji collectors.
If you don’t have one yet, you may be interested in searching for your favorite. You would see so many cute ones you may fall in love with.
Using these tools is good enough to brew gyokuro, but we recommend using tetsubin (iron kettle) to brew gyokuro better.
Tetsubin is a tool to boil water and made out of iron. The water boiled in tetsubin would taste smooth as the iron from tetsubin dissolves in.
Also, since the water temperature plays an important role in brewing gyokuro, we recommend using a thermometer for those who want to be more careful about the temperature.
Water and temperature
There are soft water and hard water, and the suitability depends on the tea
Hard water contains more calcium and magnesium than soft water, which prevents bitterness and ruins the original taste balance in tea.
Soft water can extract the ingredients and flavors from tea leaves, and the most suitable type of water to brew Japanese teas like gyokuro is soft water.
There would be no problem with tap water to brew tea as tap water in Japan is mostly soft water.
The water temperature for gyokuro should be as warm as 50-60 degrees celsius that‘s about 20 degrees lower than sencha’s.
For those who want to go further about the tea-temperature relationship, check this out.
How to brew gyokuro
Here are the instructions to brew gyokuro below;
Pour water in hohin
Pour the boiling water in a hobin (teapot), then pour it in yunomis (teacups) to serve.
Cool the boiling water
Pour the water out of the yunomis into a yuzamashi t(cooling pot) ill the water temperature lowers to 50-60 degrees celsius.
If you want to cool quickly, pour the water back and forth between the yuzamashi (cooling pot) and yunomis (teacups)
Put tea leaves in hohin (kyusu teapot)
Put 3g of tea leaves per cup.
Gyokuro is the highest-class tea and the tea leaves are delicate. Make sure to gently scoop up the tea leaves so that they don’t get damaged..
Pour hot water in hohin and let it sit
Pour the cooled water out of the yuzamashi (cooling pot) into the hohin.
Wait for about 2-3 minutes while the tea leaves gradually open.
Pour tea around in yunomis
Pour the tea around in yunomis (teacups)to serve.
Shake the hohin (teapot) at the end to make sure to pour out till the very last drop.
Since the tea leaves have already opened from the first brew, use a little warmer water for the second brew.
You can enjoy the second brew with a different taste and flavor from the first one.