Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Gyokuro Saemidori Competition Grade

The sun is shining once again in Bratislava (melting all the snow so there likely won't be any on Christmas, but oh well, what can we do) – after such a long time, it really is a nice alternative to the cold, cloudy days, during which I usually tend to lack natural light a lot.

Not to mention, that such sunny day seems to be ideal for good Gyokuro.

A sample of this tea was kindly sent by Martin Spimr of Teamountain. This Gyokuro originates in Yame, Fukuoka (quite a famous Gyokuro-producing region) is made of Saemidori breed and competed in National Tea Competition of Japan, about which I've already talked in a post about prized Tamaryokucha and about which Hibiki-an recently published an article as well.

Right as the silver package is opened, amazingly rich, heavy smell pops out and fills my nose with fresh tones of fruit, creamy milkiness, pines and intense sweetness. This aroma belongs to beautifully uniform, short needle-like leaves which are very dark-green in color, almost blue-green and possess the typical plastic shine.

Such competition Gyokuro truly deserves special treatment – just as with all teas of this kind of such high grade, I decided to use the traditional way of preparation. Whole sample is therefore poured into the small preheated shiboridashi, even boosting the already intensive, vivid smell of these leaves.

Water is then let cooling down for the first infusion until it reaches the point of 50 degrees Celsius.

The first infusion is then brewed for four minutes; the result is yellow in color and deep, creamy and fruity in smell. It's very thick and has oily consistency, hitting the tongue with rich taste full of various nuances - intensive milkiness, noble sweetness, vivid umami, pears, plums, and hazelnuts. As most Gyokuros, this tea seems to be warm in character, lacking the floral freshness and something I would call “the feeling of spring”. It's just as mouth-filling and sated as a good, thick chicken-soup and seems to have a significant impact on stomach. The aftertaste is mainly milky and nutty, very long and, in some way, dry.

A bit warmer water is used for the second infusion, which is also brewed for shorter time. Its color is now yellowish green with typical opaqueness and heavy, deep taste, now dominated by tones of ripe fruit, followed by rich umami note, sweet creaminess and milk. The aftertaste lingers on tongue for even longer time than in the previous infusion, though it seems to be lighter, less concentrated and not so mouth-filling.

The third infusion is once again prepared with small amount of a bit hotter water, is light-green in color and much lighter, yet sharper on tongue. This brew is mainly fruity, with nuances resembling pears and plums just like those in the first infusion, with milky and creamy tones slowly receding. The aftertaste is quite short in this case; light, warm and calm, lacking the vivid sharpness found in the infusion itself.

These leaves still seem so lively and full of energy after the last brew – as always, some of them are eaten just as the sun goes down. They lack any bitterness, being gently sweet and mild.

haven't found any Christmas-related candleholder at the moment, but...

Four days left until Christmas; as I'm not sure whether I will post anything in the next few days or not, I would like to wish all the tea-lovers out there Merry Christmas, filled with a lot of good mood and, of course, good tea.


  1. The used leaves are fascinatingly vivid looking, reminiscent of bright green seaweed leaves.

  2. Alex,
    right - now, try to imagine, that they look even greener in reality ;-)