This is the second of 2010 Horaido teas, which were traditionally processed and stored until October in Kyoto, mentioned on my blog. After beginning with Sencha, I've chosen to try Gyokuro Fuuki – of three Horaido Gyokuros I got from Peter Stanik, this is the middle grade. According to Horaido description, citing, “High grade Gyokuro. With fine rich taste and aroma. We recommend this tea for the first try to Gyokuro. It is very popular Gyokuro in our shop.” though this by any means is not my first Gyokuro, it, for a reason which remains unknown to me, was the first one to subconsciously catch my attention among these samples.
The package reveals leaves which are very dark, almost blueish-green in appearance, shiny and shorter than Asamushi Sencha leaves; typical appearance for high grade Gyokuro. Their smell is rich, heavily deep and just like sweet milk cream with decent tones of blackberries, ribes and even caramel.
I decided to prepare this tea in a traditional way, as, in my opinion, it really deserves this kind of treatment. This means that quite a big amount of leaves is brewed in minimal amount of 45-50 Celsius degrees lukewarm water (Horaido even recommends 40 degrees) for two to five minutes. I choose the middle way, brewing it for four minutes, preparing two infusions.
The first infusion, being yellow in color is, up to the expectations, very thick, having a consistency comparable to that of oil. The taste is heavily intense, hitting tongue in the first second with all of its numerous tones and nuances, most vivid of which are deep sweetness, milkiness, nuttiness similar to that of almonds and a note of ripe fruit; all kinds of fruit. It has all the qualities typical for traditionally stored Gyokuro, with freshness replaced by deep, noble fullness and absolutely no bitterness. It however still is somehow lighter in character than most regular types of Gyokuro, or at least seems so to me – possibly the reason why Horaido recommends it as a “starter” Gyokuro for those who don't have much experience with this type of tea yet (though I believe it would be a “cultural shock” to such person even so – Gyokuro always seems to be). Still, this lighter character definitely isn't a minus, but instead just makes this tea more distinct and impressive.
The second infusion is brewed in water which is a bit warmer than the first one (55 degrees) and even smaller in cubage – just enough to cover the leaves. It seems greener in color, is less thick in consistency as well as taste, which is lighter, more flowery yet still creamy, sweet and deep with long aftertaste, which can be characterized as the umami itself – it's often said that Gyokuro is the embodiment of this taste and I cannot disagree.
After the session, I suddenly felt very hungry – another thing typical for Gyokuro and one of the reasons Japanese almost always serve something sweet with tea. These teas have a big impact on tummy and should never be consumed on empty stomach – this pertains all Japanese teas, but can be especially noticeable on Gyokuro and Matcha.
My mind hasn't been so calm – calm and vigilant at once - for a long time; another impact of this, without any doubts, beautiful tea, which brightened this beautiful, sunny autumnal day even more.