Uji-Tawara Gyokuro (Goko-Midori)

14,7051,70

Uji-Tawara Gyokuro (Goko-Midori) is a naturally cultivated Gyokuro from Uji-Tawara, Kyoto, the cradle of tea cultivation in Japan and the Japanese tea culture as such. The dry tea leaves exude a harmonious aroma of precious wood, nuts and nut shells. In terms of taste, predominantly slightly bitter herbal notes in the golden-green shimmering cup combine with delicate, unobtrusive umami to create a soft mouthfeel and a hint of sea breeze. However, it’s the fine balance between these stimuli that makes this a Gyokuro that is as light and refreshing as it is full-bodied.

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Description

Uji-Tawara Gyokuro (Goko-Midori) - organically (free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers) cultivated Gyokuro gree tea from Uji-Tawara, Kyoto, Japan

Uji-Tawara Gyokuro – click picture(s) to enlarge

Uji-Tawara Gyokuro (Goko-Midori)

This tea is brought to us by Tea Crane, a trader specialized in naturally cultived teas by small producers in Japan. The operator, Tyas Sösen, is a Belgian by birth who has lived in Japan since his later adolescence. There, as the youngest officially certified tea master of foreign origin, he learned the tea trade from scratch. His love for traditional Japanese Sencha teas of regional character ultimately culminated in the founding of The Tea Crane. The underlying philosophy is a return to the original Japanese Sencha. This means that the cultivation is free of artificial fertilizers and pesticides and comparably low in nitrogen. In addition, it means processing that is free of the industrial mass processes that are often characteristic of tea production in Japan today.

The name, Uji-Tawara Gyokuro (Goko-Midori), provides information about the tea’s origin from Uji-Tawara, Kyoto. Thi is considered the geographic cradle of tea cultivation in Japan and of Japanese tea culture as such. Also, the term “Gyokuro” hints at the pertinent processing type of Japanese green tea. Except of the full shading of the tea bushes for up to three weeks by housing them in close-meshed nets, Gyokuro differs from other Japanese Sencha teas in regard to preferred cultivars. For example, Goko and Uji-Midori, from which this tea is a blend, are typical “Gyokuro cultivars”.

The dry tea leaves exude a harmonious aroma of precious wood, nuts and nut shells. In terms of taste, predominantly slightly bitter herbal notes in the golden-green shimmering cup combine with delicate, unobtrusive umami to create a soft mouthfeel and a hint of sea breeze. However, it’s the fine balance between these stimuli that makes Uji-Tawara a Gyokuro that is as light and refreshing as it is full-bodied.

Uji-Tawara Gyokuro (Goko-Midori) - organically (free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers) cultivated Gyokuro gree tea from Uji-Tawara, Kyoto, Japan

What is Gyokuro?

In principle, Gyokuro (Japanese: “jade dew”) is a special subtype of Japanese Sencha tea. Within this category, along with Kabusecha, it comprises the sub-category of shaded green teas. However, the two are distinct in degree and period of shading.

The former, “Kabuse Tea”, or “Kabuse Cha”, uses comparably coarse-meshed nets (kabuse” nets: UV filtration ca. 50% ) for up to 2 weeks before picking. In contrast, the tea bushes for gyokuro are “housed” with several layers of closer meshed nets, filtering out up to 90% of the sunlight for an even longer period of 2-3 weeks. During this period, the near-total withdrawal of light triggers activities in the tea plant that lead to an altered composition of active ingredients. As a result, amounts of amino acids (e.g. Theanine) and alkaloids (e.g. Caffeine, Theophyllin) increase, while bitterns (e.g. Catechine) are reduced. Tastewise, the full shading results in a considerably higher sweetness of the tea.  Also, the tea’s aroma and deep green color intensify through the procedure. Gyokuro is therefore generally regarded as the most delicate of the Japanese green tea varieties.

In order to achieve an optimal exploitation of active ingredients and to prevent oxidation processes, the freshly picked deep green tea leaves undergo steaming, cooling and rolling procedue right after picking. This part of the processing mainly resembles that of other Japanese Sencha teas. The long period of full shading is responsible for the tea’s unique, intensely sweet “umami” flavor that has earned Gyokuro the reputation of being the most delicate type of tea in Japan.

The Producer / The Tea Garden – “Nagatani”

“Nagatani Tea Factory” sees itself in the tradition of Nagatani Soen, the founder of nowadays’ Sencha processing methods. The pioneer of modern Japanese green tea, who lived in the 18th century, also made his home in Uji-Tawara. While maintaining this tradition, the manufacturers strive to produce the highest possible quality tea using only natural cultivation methods. Only natural plant substances such as straw, pampas grass, etc. are used as fertilizer. On the one hand, these serve to inhibit weed growth. On the other hand, their decomposition provides natural nutrients to the soil, which in turn benefit the tea bushes. The following video by the “Tea Crane” founder provides wonderful impressions of what this looks like in practice:

The Origins of Sencha in Uji-Tawara

organic tea cultivation at Nagatani tea garden in Uji-Tawara, Kyoto, Japan

“Nagatani” tea garden in Uji-Tawara, Kyoto, Japan

– click picture(s) to enlarge –

Preparation

Gyokuro preparation differs from the preparation of other types of green tea, including Japanese Sencha teas, in three respects. At this, the differences affect the 3 most important parameters of tea preparation: dosage, infusion temperature and brewing time. First of all, the dosing for Gyokuro is much higher than for other Sencha teas. Also, to prevent bitter substances from dissolving in the infusion, the infusion temperature for Gyokuro is significantly lower than for other green teas. And finally, a comparably prolongued infusion period applies to Gyokuro preparation. Generally, all these features serve to fully develop the characteristic taste profile achieved through the intense shading.

Accordingly, the source’s (and expert’s) preparation recommendation appears to be rather unusual at first sight… Pour 4-5g of tea leaves / 100ml with as-soft-as-possible water at a temperature of no more than 60°C. Then let steep for 3 (in words: three)) minutes for an (admittedly) stunningly delicious first infusion. The result is a taste “statement” that is second to none. After this, a second and a third infusion follow the same preparation scheme. At this, the taste profile shifts from infusion to infusion successively from umami to vegetal to mineral notes. The latter then also dominate a fourth infusion at 90°C (boiling hot). This mainly serves to fully yield all active ingredients from the tea leaf.

You can of course “play” with the parameters recommended above… For example, shortening the brewing time elicits a less overwhelming, but more diverse taste experience. This applies in particular to the first two infusions.

The following blog article provides an overview of the history and basic types of Japanese green tea:

https://siamteas.com/siam-teabloid-2/siam-teabloid-vol-2015/march-2015-japanese-green-tea-history-and-present-face-an-overview/

For more Japanese Gyokuro green teas at Siam Tea Shop, follow the link below::

https://www.siam-teas.com/product-category/tea-from-japan/gyokuro-tea/

Additional information

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Weight

25g, 50g, 100g

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