Tea: Premium Gyokuro

A Gyokuro from Aiya

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Product page:Premium Gyokuro

Review of Premium Gyokuro

8 of 105 of 52 of 580 of 100

I had the opportunity to sample this and Harney and Sons' Heavenly Gyokuro side-by-side. The two teas are comparable in price, and are both top-notch teas, yet they were remarkably different! It's hard for me to say which one I preferred.

The dry leaf of this tea has an aroma peculiarly reminiscent of an airplane cabin, or the interior of one of the old 1950's trolleys that runs on Girard Avenue in West Philadelphia. I know that probably sounds strange, but it's the best descriptor I could come up with.

Upon brewing, this tea is very toasty. Much less vegetal than most Gyokuro I've tried; much more like a typical sencha, but toastier.

Aiya recommends brewing with a very low water temperature (122F) which almost tastes lukewarm to me. I tried this, and it results in less of the toasty quality, and an extremely spinachy brew with a slightly more umami (savory) flavor, but otherwise smoother character. Unlike most Gyokuro, I've found that this tea was not terribly picky about brewing temperature, and people with more American tastes might actually like brewing it at a higher temperature, because, contrary to how some Gyokuro seems to behave, this seems to diminish the vegetal tones. I also love the toasty aroma that comes out when the water is hotter (by hotter I mean 150-170F, still cooler than I brew most green teas).

Very grassy finish. Like, mowing-the-lawn grassy. To me, this is a good thing!

Steeped for 3 minutes, this tea was able to make a second flavorful infusion, but there wasn't much flavor left in the leaves for a third.

I think Aiya's recommendation of 1 heaping teaspoon results in too strong a cup for my tastes. I'd go with under a teaspoon, if you're brewing for 3 minutes--this tea is very strong and flavorful, and also has a decent caffeine kick. A little leaf goes a long way.

Lastly, comment on the price...it's pricey...like good Gyokuro is. My low value rating does not mean that I thought this was anything short of excellent--I just personally think this style of tea is too expensive relative to how much I enjoy it.

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