Gyokuro Tokiwa Green Tea
€7,40 – €45,90
Gyokuro Tokiwa („Tokiwa“ = old Japanese word for “evergreen”) is a (fully) shaded tea from region of Kagoshima (Kyushu Island) in the south of Japan, harvested during the main picking seasons in May. The beneficial timing of the picking, several weeks of full shading before the harvest and a high grade leaf selection are guarantors for a classy Gyokuro green tea that is equally well suitable for the entry in the world of fully shaded teas and as a dear companion for confessed Gyokuro lovers.
For more information and illustration, please refer to the detailed product description below.
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, on the island Kyshu on the most southern tip of Japan.
The name “Tokiwa” on the one hand comes 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. This also was the time, when the Buddhist monk Eisan brought the first tea seeds from China to Japan. It was the cultivation of these seeds that laid the foundations for the Japanese tea culture. Thanks to the tea gardens’ vicinity to the still active volcano “Sakurajima”, 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.
One feature of Gyokuro Tokiwa is its high leaf grade. This comes to bear in the beautiful long needles’ emerald green color and the intensely shiny jade-green cup. The extraordinary gentle taste does one more thing to qualify Gyokuro Tokiwa as a perfect entry into the world of shaded teas. At the same time, this tea’s particular smoothness and noble taste qualify Gyokuro Tokiwa as a dear companion for confessed Gyokuro lovers.
Immediately after processing, the producer of this Gyokuro vacuum-seals the tea and sends it to destinations worldwide. This way, the active ingredients, fragrance and intense taste of the tea remain uncompromized all the way right up to your cup.
What is Gyokuro Tea?
The most distinct feature of Gyokuro is the shading of the tea garden for about 3 weeks before picking. In contrast to the “Kabusecha” shading method with comparably coarse-meshed 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 triggers activities in the tea plant that lead to an altered composition of active ingredients. The result are increased amounts of amino acids (e.g. Theanine) and alkaloids (e.g. Caffeine, Theophyllin) and a reduction of bitterns (e.g. Catechine). In terms of taste, this effects an intensivation of the tea’s sweetness and the development of “umami”. Also, the resulting tea’s fragrance and deep green color intensify through the procedure.
Another defining defining feature of Gyokuro tea is the use of “Tencha” instead of the whole tea leaf. At this, “Tencha” is the tea leaf freed of its stems and veins. The production of Gyokuro tea therefore requires another complex processing step in addition to the need for shading. Accordingly, the two main differences between Gyokuro and Kabusecha tea processing are the degree of shading and the leaf material. That is, the Kabuse method uses relatively wide-meshed nets to simulate natural lighting conditions. Also, the whole tea leaf is used for producing Kabuse Cha.
For optimal preservation of the active ingredients and protection against oxidation processes, the deep green tea leaves undergo the processing steps of steaming, cooling, rolling and drying immediately after picking. The intensely sweet “umami” taste is responsible for Gyokuro’s reputation as the most delicate green tea in Japan.
When prepared like an ordinary Sencha tea, the special character of Gyokuro tea only reveals to a limited extent. Therfore, a specific approach is recommendable in order to get to fully enjoy the taste benefits of this special type of tea. At this, three preparation parameters are in the foreground, namely dosage, water temperature and steeping period. Compared to an ordinary green tea, the optimal dosage for a Gyokuro is higher, the water temperature lower and the brewing time shorter. Accordingly, I recommend the following approach as a starting point for your own explorations:
First pour water at a temperature of 65°C over 4g tea leaves per 100ml water. Then let steep for 1 minute for a delicious first infusion. This follows another tasty infusion with considerably reduced infusion period time (almost zero, infuse and pour out immediately). After this, slightly increase the temperature and steeping time progressively from one follow-up infusion to another.
Just like with all types of tea, ” the softer (low-lime) the water, the better” also applies to Gyokuro.
Best suitable for the preparation of Japanese green teas are clay teapots, for example Japanese Kyusu or Shiboridashi. However, you will achieve comparably desirable results using a China bone or a glass teapot.
Gyokuro Tokiwa as a “cold steep”
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.
More information about Gyokuro and other Japanese green teas provides my pertinent article in Siam Tea Blog:
25g, 50g, 100g, 200g