The sun magically returned the day after my last post and has been shining ever since, reviving my demand of Japanese green tea. To celebrate the fact, I decided to drink something really special today – out of all competition grade greens in 2010 Teamountain offering, this one seemed to be the most promising.
Picked in Yame, Fukuoka, one of the most famous Gyokuro-producing regions of Japan in May, this tea was made of Gokoh cultivar, which is considered the most suitable for Gyokuro. Just like the previously mentioned Gyokuro Saemidori, it competed in last year's National Tea Competition of Japan. This is the last sample kindly sent by Martin Spimr of Teamountain with my order; a sample which I'd been sparing for quite a long time, waiting for the right moment to open it.
These leaves are unusually beautiful even for a good Gyokuro – very uniform and even, quite long needles, plastic on touch and with typically blueish-green shine. Their smell is rich, sweet, deep and milky, sophisticated and wide, with notes ranging from sweet cream and milk to ripe fruit and pines.
Traditional way of preparation is a must for such tea – water is therefore cooled down to 50°C and carefully poured on the whole sample.
After four minutes of brewing, the first infusion is ready; it has unusually transparent, clear yellow color and slightly oily consistency, accompanied by humble, sweet smell of fruit and vanilla. The first sip is almost a shock for tongue - this taste is unbelievable, extremely rich and heavy with dominant tones of milk, sweetness and umami, the richest and vividest umami I've experienced in tea for a long time. This Gyokuro is quite warm in character, yet still possess a fresh, almost “mountainous” nuance of conifers and pines, accompanied by pure, relaxing feeling of a walk in the woods. As if it still weren't enough, the liquor further contains hints of various sweet, ripe fruit, most notably plums and pears.
The second infusion is prepared with a bit warmer water and shorter brewing time, resulting in a light-greenish yellow brew, which is now predominantly fruity in taste, a bit lighter and still very clear and refined. Out of many kinds of fruit this tea resembles, plums are still the most outstanding, followed by pears, apples and even pineapple. This infusion is atypically smooth for a second brew of Gyokuro, which usually brings a bit of spiciness and sharpness to the tea – not in this case, however, this tea seems to keep its noble sweetness much longer than anything else.
This brew is followed by long, mouthfilling aftertaste with vivid sweetness, umami and creamy milkiness.
Thank you, Martin, for sending this sample and for an opportunity to try such an amazing tea.