June 2018 – Tea of the Month – Ceremonial Gyokuro, Island of Honshu
Ceremonial Gyokuro, Island of Honshu
This is green tea at its best ! Gyokuro is Japan’s most expensive tea and is grown and produced with extreme care and skill. The tea bushes are very carefully shaded with mats just as the new buds begin to form – thus reducing light to the bush and forcing it to produce more chlorophyll and darker green leaves. The resulting tea is a pale yellow colour with a wonderfully smooth and sweet flavour. The water temperature for this delicate tea needs to be lower than for other teas. A wonderful drinking experience
Some interesting notes on the exquisite Gyokuro process
The origin of this stunning leaf can be traced to the Yamamotoyama company. In 1835, Yamamoto Kahei the sixth, travelled to Uji to study tencha processing. It’s been said that the practice of shading the tea before the harvest was invented by Uji farmers in an attempt to protect the green tea leaves from frost by using straw umbrellas.
Yamamoto tried to replicate the results but ended with a different kind of tea, which nevertheless tasted great and became popular. He named it tamanotsuyu. Eguchi Shigejuro used the method to process sencha and further refined the production of the leaf in 1841. Eguchi gave gyokuro its name !