When you think of the springtime, you may think of the freshness of new life encompassing all of nature’s divine beauty. What would make a more perfect green tea drink, then, than a tea made only with the earliest tea leaf buds of the spring harvest?
The answer is: nothing. This is why those who love new beginnings, brightness, and serene happiness will be captivated by Gyokuro tea, which is made of these very pure spring buds.
For centuries, Gyokuro tea has been a staple of the Japanese tea drinking society. It is in Japan where the tea is grown, and it is sometimes referred to as the finest green tea in the world. What customer would not want to enrich their tea drinking experiences with trying this elegantly fragrant and delicate tea?
Translated into the English language, Gyokuro has the meaning “Jade Dew”. This reference could not be more concise, as the tea itself has a gemstone-like color about it and a dewy, sweet taste.
Gyokuro tea is a very special type of tea, not only because of its aroma and the sensation your taste buds feel after you drink it, but also because it must go through a very extravagant cultivation and processing to make it the beautiful tea that you find in your cup each day. Let’s take a closer look at how this tea is harvested and cultivated.
First, the tea is grown under the shade of reed or straw screens. This shading takes place for twenty days before the harvest. Shading the tea is highly important, as less sunlight hitting the plant results in a milder, sweet flavoring. It also results in less astringency.
If the tea plant is exposed to too much sunlight, sugars, amino acids, flavanols, and caffeine composition may be thrown off, resulting in a less than desirable drink.
After the tea is grown, those working on the processing must use their skills to carefully handle the leaves. This is because the Gyokuro tea leaves are softer and more moist than most types of green tea leaves. The leaves must be lightly steamed to prevent oxidation, and then rolled and air-dried to help them attain shape and flavor.
Afterwards, a raw tea, also known as aracha, is left over. This type of tea has a high content of water in it. It is later separated into different grades of leaves, and this is known as sencha. The best sencha are selected to make Gyokuro teas.
Gyokuro tea must be brewed very carefully, so as to bring out its best flavor possible. Cool water and a large amount of tea leaves are often recommended for the perfect glass. A very high quality Gyokuro tea will yield up to three infusions.
The Japanese tea gardens that make the highest quality Gyokuro tea are located in three regions of the country: Hoshinomura in Yame (Kyushu), Joyoshi in Kyoto and Okabe in Shizuoka ( Honshu ). These gardens produce the best Gyokuro teas that one could wish for!