Summer Vacation! Slept all day and I think I’m feeling just coherent enough to give gyokuro another try. I tried one earlier in the week but didn’t really have enough leaf to do it properly, so now I’m going to give it another shot and see if I can’t attempt to get it right. I’m expecting failure my first try, because pretty much anytime I try to do things in a gong fu style using a gaiwan or shiboridashi (and I’ll be using my shiboridashi for this), I mess up on my first try despite my best intentions.
This is a sampler I picked up from Yunomi some time ago, just on a whim. The name just kind of gave me the impression that it must be a good gyokuro to pick for people that have never tried it and have no idea what to pick when they want to try a gyokuro with no knowledge for the sake of trying.
Everything I read has such high leaf suggestions for brewing this stuff, and if there is anything that makes me nervous when brewing green tea, it is overleafing, so I just… ya. Even if it is wrong wrong wrong, I have probably underleafed this terribly because of fear of that, because I’ve had some bad experiences with bitter nasty overleafed green tea in the past. The site I was referencing for this suggested 6.6 grams, I decided to drop it down to 5 and cross my fingers and pray to the Tea Gods. Since my cockatiel has been with me for 20 years now, I decided an animal sacrifice to the Tea Gods wouldn’t be necessary.
The dry leaf definitely smells very similar to my Kabusecha, which is a very sweet but somewhat vegetal grassy scent, similar to matcha. So I’m already expecting this to taste much like the kabusecha and less like the other gyokuro (of which I had hardly any leaf) that I tried. And the steeped tea smells very umami/vegetal, which again is more of what I was expecting, and closer to my experience with the kabusecha. My strainer wasn’t able to handle the small leaf escaping the shiboridashi, but eeeeeh… I could use the vitamins.
Well, the good news is it isn’t bitter as sin! Whether using the extra gram and a half would’ve made a huge difference, I don’t know, but the tea is definitely more along the lines of what I was expecting for gyokuro. It’s like a thick vegetable broth in flavor, with ocean salt and seaweed notes, and very umami. I think I pick out notes of cucumber, asparagus, and spinach in that thick vegetal note, though the oceanic/seaweed flavor comes off most heavily toward the end of the sip. It’s very savory, so I’m glad I’m sipping this slowly out of little shiboridashi cups. I steeped this five times, and am unsure if it still had more to give; I had my fill by that point. I did notice it had a thinner mouthfeel by the third steep, and a slight (though not unpleasant) astringency.
So happy this came out correctly. This tea has certainly proved good practice for my gong fu/shiboridashi skills. I can tell this sort of tea isn’t the sort of thing I’d particularly want to brew up very often, and the extra work of preparation doesn’t make it feasible to use as ramen broth either, which is what I usually use really savory/soupy teas for, so I imagine for me, gyokuro will be something I just enjoy sampling from time to time. Perhaps as an accompaniment when I get a hankering for white rice.
Flavors: Asparagus, Cucumber, Ocean Air, Salty, Seaweed, Spinach, Thick, Umami, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal