Gyokuro - a traditional green tea from Yame in Japan - really resides in a class of its own. It offers such an arresting and unusual experience, we firmly believe it is a tea that everyone should try, at least once!Yame is a special place. It is defined by dramatic mountains and cascading waterfalls. It is also known to produce the best Gyokuro in Japan, making it home to the traditional craftsmanship for this kind of tea. Over 100 years of experience making Gyokuro lives in Yame and thus, the tea that comes from here has set the standard for Gyokuro around the world for a very long time.
Gyokuro depends on shade, and the best ones are grown in the valleys of mountains where there is little direct sunlight. The narrow river valleys of the Yame region create the ideal conditions for these tea trees, and they are able to flourish naturally, without much human intervention.
Unique to the making of gyokuro is that, at a certain point in the growth of the tea plants, the entire field is covered with screens designed to filter out even more light. This stresses the tea trees, causing them to strive for sunlight, and therefore increases the amount of the amino acid l-theanine in their leaves. This striving is what gives Yame gyokuro its distinct mouthfeel, nutritional properties, and rich flavor.
Roughly 2 to 3 weeks before harvest, large straw screens that are woven locally are stretched between a lattice of concrete pillars and suspended above the tea fields. To our knowledge, Yame is the only region that still uses this traditional shading method. The standard practice elsewhere is to use synthetic fiber to shade the treas, which works similarly, but has the undesired effect of raising the temperature in the tea field, thereby diminishing the quality of the tea.
Yame Gyokuro is harvested by hand, one bud and two leaves. The leaves are then immediately steamed, then separated, rolled, and lastly, formed into a needle shape by experienced craftsmen.
We have sourced a few different examples of Yame Gyokuro for us to enjoy at the shop so that we can truly gain an appreciation for this region and its signature tea. Most of them we reserve for tastings at the tea bar. In this way, we can prepare them for you using the traditional, long infusion, which is really the only way to do traditional gyokuro justice.
We invite you to come for a tasting and experience this incredible type of tea!
Currently, we have brought in one Yame Gyokuro for you to try at home. We are selling Dento Hon Gyokuro "Seifu" in packages, both online and at the shop.
This is the entry level Gyokuro from Dento Hon, and a good one for people new to Gyokuro to experiment with on their own.
Dry, it smells delicious: toasty and direct. Its first infusion tastes very deep, dominated by soft, low green notes. Its flavour profile makes nods to algae and popcorn. This tea is well suited for everyday drinking, offering us a very pleasant dose of umami, L-theanine and chlorophyll notes.
If you are searching for more examples of Yame Gyokuro, and are wanting to experience the complexity that premium examples of this tea can deliver, please reach out to us.
We will surely continue to source new kinds of this mesmerizing, umami-forward tea that has so much to teach us about mouthfeel.