Review: Teaflection Gyokuro Asahi Rare Green Tea

Green Tea, Gyokuro Tea, Japanese Tea, Teaflection Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The taste was incredibly different, resembling a combination of almonds, chestnuts, and rice wrapped in sweet seaweed."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8/10
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Gyokuro is the finest of the fine - the creme de la creme - of Japanese green teas. Deciding if matcha or gyokuro is superior is, at best, a semantic debate. Both (practically) use the same leaves. The difference between tencha - the whole leaf pre-form of matcha - and gyokuro is a cursory one. In a country where sencha is the primary hot beverage of choice, gyokuro (or "Jade Dew") is a luxury.

Teaflection is a new company to me with a wide and varied selection. As an added bonus to new shoppers, they even put on weekly haiku contests. Winners get free samples. Can't say I've encountered that before, but if there's one thing the world is sadly lacking in, it's more haikus. Especially haikus about monkeys. And ninjas. Monkey ninjas. I'm yammering.

Their gyokuro bares the word "Asahi" in the title. I'm not too sure what it signifies, but if I were a guessing guy (which I'm not) I'd say either region or cultivar. More likely cultivar; meaning, the type of tea leaf used. The leaves for this batch were as dark green as any I've found, indicative of the extensive shading process all gyokuro go through. I was surprised to find some stems/twigs among the dark leaves - since this wasn't a kukicha - but they were of the same rich color. The aroma was leafy but sweet, somewhat reminding me of green rooibos, but nowhere near as nutty.

When I first got this in the mail, I immediately brewed it up at a usual sencha temperature - approximately 165F-170F water, 2 tsp in 16oz. That was a mistake. The tea came out okay but extremely grassy. All initial subtleties were gone. I finally referenced the Teaflection site and found that I'd been off by a good 30 degrees. Gyokuro is best brewed between 122F-140F, and the amount of leaves used should be significantly more than usual. I read as much as 2 tbsn can be used per 4oz of water. Teaflection called for a lighter touch of 3 tsp per cup. I assumed "cup" meant 8oz. I adhered to that and went with a water temp of 131F, plus a steep time of two-and-a-half minutes.

The liquor brewed a very foggy shade of (fittingly enough) jade. Cup aroma was roasty, nutty, with a lightly sweet back. Not unlike the dry scent. The taste was incredibly different, resembling a combination of almonds, chestnuts, and rice wrapped in sweet seaweed. Teaflection was definitely right to say that it has no bitterness to it. I detected none of that, but it still had the vegetal characteristic that some don't like in green teas. I tend to prefer it, though. My one major gripe was a subjective one. 131F was too light a temp, for it cooled far too quickly.

On a third try, I changed up the brewing instructions a bit in favor of personal preference. I brewed only 2 tsp this round in 8oz of 140F water for the max time of three minutes. Finally, the finicky tea had found it's right temperament. For my whims, anyway. It was all leafy sweetness - still in the seaweed vein - and the nutty aspects trailed in last place. Third time was definitely the charm.

This was only my second gyokuro brew-up at home to date. The first time was a passable experience, but I definitely did it wrong. For this batch, I adhered to the instructions as best I could, came out with something better, but wouldn't quite call it perfect. It's a good - if touchy - green tea, but I'll stick with matcha as a mainstay. Still, this is a very worthwhile cup.

— To purchase Teaflection Gyokuro Asahi Rare Green Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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