Gyokuro tea is a genuine Japanese green tea characterized by the full shading (housing) of the tea garden with several net layers. Our Gyokuro Tokiwa is a fully shaded tea (Gyokuro = fully shaded) harvested during the main picking season in May. Home of this tea is Japan’s second largest tea cultivation region, the area around Kagoshima, capital of the prefecture with the same name located on the island Kyshu on the most southern tip of Japan. The name “Tokiwa” derives its name on the one hand from the old Japanese word for the evergreen color of nature. On the other hand, it points to Japanese painting artist Tokiwa Mitusnaga, who lived and worked in the late Heian period, at the same time when the Buddhist monk and Zen scholar Eisan brought the first tea seeds from China to Japan to cultivate them there and lay the foundations for the Japanese tea culture. Thanks to the vicinity of the tea gardens to the still active volcano “Sakurajima”, our Gyokuro Tokiwa crops in particularly rich soils. Another beneficial factor for the enrichment with taste, aroma and other active substances in the leaves of the tea plant is the Kagoshima region’s mild climate, which is like tailor-made for tea cultivation.
In contrast to the shading method used for “Kabuse Tea” (also: “Kabusecha”) , where comparably coarse-meshed nets (“Kabuse” nets: UV filtration ca. 50% ), the tea bushes for Gyokuro tea are “housed” with several layers of closer meshed nets, filtering out approximately 90% of the sunlight. The near-total withdrawal of light during this period triggers activities in the tea plant that are leading to an altered composition of the ingredients with increased amounts of amino acids (e.g. Theanine) and alkaloids (e.g. Caffeine, Theophyllin) and a reduction of bitterns (e.g. Catechine). Tastewise, the full shading results in a considerably higher sweetness of the tea, whose aroma and deep green color are also intesified by the procedure.
In order to achieve an optimal exploitation of the active ingredients and to prevent oxidation processes, the freshly picked deep green tea leaves are steamed, cooled, rolled and dried according to the characteristic procedure of Japanese green tea processing. The producer, who is organic certified both to Japanese and German standards, vacuum-packages the tea immediately after its processing and sends it to the company’s permanent establishment in Germany, from where it is sent to us, so that the active ingredients, the fresh aromatic fragrance and the intensive taste of the tea remain preserved all the way right up to your tea cup.
The long period of full shading is responsible for the tea’s unique, intensely sweet “umami” flavor, which simply translates to “good taste” and is the reason, why Gyokuro in Japan is generally considered as the most delicate type of tea. This tea’s high leaf grade excelling with a fine leaf structure , its particular smoothness, the emerald green of its beautifully shaped long needless, the intense shine of its jade-green cup and the noble taste that slowly unfolds and lingers on on the palate qualify Gyokuro Tokiwa both as a perfect entrance to the world of shaded teas and a dear companion for confessed Gyokuro lovers.
Preparation: Dose Gyokuro Tokiwa tea leaves into the teapot, pour over with water tempered according to below recommendation or personal preference, let infuse and pour out into previously prepared drinking or tea cups.
Water: For the preparation of our Gyokuro Tokiwa Green Tea , we recommend using as soft as possible (low lime) water of a temperature of 60-65°C.
Teapot: Best suitable for the preparation of Japanese green teas such as Gyokuro, Sencha, Kabusecha or Shincha Teas are clay teapots (alternatively Japanese Kyusu or Chinese-style teapot), but you will achieve comparably desirable results using a China bone or a glass teapot.
Dosage: While in Japan there’s a tendency to much higher dosages prevailing, a dosage of 4g tea leaves on 200ml water in our experience appears to be entirely adequate as an initial approach to the exploration of one’s own taste and dosaging preferences. The higher the dosage, the more intensive both color and taste of the resulting green tea will be.
Infusion period: with an infusion period fo 2 minutes for a first infusion and approximately equally long follow-up steeps, Gyokuro Tokiwa will produce 2-3 highly delicious infusions. With higher dosages, the infusion period should be shortened accordingly and more infusions are possible.
Tea cups: In Japan, Gyokuro tea is enjoyed in smaller to medium-sized teacups (“Chawan” or “Yunomi”), whose style and prefered size can be adapted to actual requirements, i.e. situation and mood.
For more information and backgrounds on Gyokuro and other Japanese green teas as well as other types of tea that are characteristic for Japan, please also read our pertinent article in Siam Tea Blog, providing an overview of Japan’s tea world, culture and history in a comprehensive yet understandable manner: