Monday, February 3, 2014

Gyokuro is not something to drink!?

Full cup of gyokuro
I often see pictures of full cup of gyokuro when browsing the internet. There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to preparing tea. It’s a personal preference and you can enjoy it whichever way you want. However, gyokuro is a premium green tea which has abundant umami, and there is a unique way of preparing it to bring out its maximum advantage.  

It’s not something to drink
Soseki Natsume (1867-1916), a novelist described about the tea exquisitely well. I can’t translate it well with my English, but he is saying something like as follows. “People recognize tea as a thing to drink but it is wrong. You put a few drips on your tongue. Pure thing dissipates all directions and there is hardly much liquid to go down to your throat. Just nice aroma pervades through your esophagus into the stomach.” This is exactly how I think of gyokuro. You only need a little amount of tea to relish its flavor.

I tried preparing gyokuro like sencha.
When I was looking for a good way of brewing gyokuro, I tried preparing it like how I prepare sencha (Tea: 2g, Water: 80ml/80℃, Time: 1min). The taste of gyokuro brewed with a lot of hot water is far different from the one prepared ideally. It is even different from sencha. The full cup of gyokuro has a gentle sweetness. It’s not bad but it doesn’t have a kick with bitter flavor that green tea is supposed to have. The flavor is not tangy enough and it’s just a weak liquid with potato like note. It is too mild for me. I’ll probably need to try different mixtures for the full-cup gyokuro.

Left: Gyokuro prepared properly, Right: Gyokuro prepared like sencha
Give it a try - the Soseki way of gyokuro
If you have never tried brewing gyokuro with a little amount of water, I want you to try it at least once. It’s not difficult. Use a small teapot and a cup and follow these:
- Tea: 3g
- Water: 20ml/50℃ (0.7oz/122℉)
- Brewing time: 2min
Experience what Soseki enjoyed. It’s not something to drink and it’s something to savor.

Past entry:  How to brew gyokuro



  1. There are other methods I've been reading about, but never managed to find someone in Tokyo when I have visited to prepare for me as an example:
    Shizuku-cha (しずく茶)

    1. Oh, you have visited Tokyo! I hope you had a good time there.
      I don’t know of shinobicha, but I believe that Shizukucha or Susuricha is the same as what Souseki described. It is prepared with a little amount of water but just not using a teapot, right? Thanks for leaving your comment!!

  2. Kohei-san,
    Yes, I was lucky to visit Tokyo 3 times in 2012 as my team provides the materials used in the clean up of Fukushima (in the SARRY unit). Too much business meetings and not enough time. Managed to inve$$$t heavily in good teas :-) But if I have the chance to go again, will need some further assistance and advice :-)
    Especially for a place similar to the tea house at Happo-En, which is the only one I managed to enjoy.

    1. Wow, you are a busy person. You must know about Tokyo more than I do. I’ve been there only twice in the past decade, hahaha. I’ve just checked the website of Happo-en. Their tea room looks really nice and I wanna visit it sometime.

    2. It's a interesting subject. Thank you, Kohei-san.
      Where did Soseki say that? I would like to read it. :-)

    3. I have never read the book, though. Hahaha. The quoted passage is from his novel, Kusamakura. It is not a book about tea.

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