Shimooka's Gyokuro - Green Tea from Uji, Japan

Shimooka's Gyokuro is a truly beautiful tea from Uji, in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.  It is hand-picked (as is all authentic gyokuro), from unpruned tea bushes.  It is made from the Goku cultivar and was shaded for a whopping 45 days!

The traditional way to steep gyokuro is quite unlike any other type of tea that I know. The goal of steeping it is to completely minimize astringency and to maximize the amino acids. The ratio of leaf to water is around 1 gram for every 8 ml of water your vessel holds, and generally the vessel one uses is very, very small (no more than 100 ml, but something like 40 to 50 ml is better).  The water temp is about 120 degrees and the first steeping is about 60 to 90 seconds. The water temp is at 150 degrees for the second steeping and the time is 60 seconds.  And for the third infusion, the temp is at 150 to 160 for two minutes.  If you do try the tea in this manner, prepare to be tea bombed!  It’s fun and exhilarating (and also a very savory experience as basically what is happening is that we’re accentuating the umami flavor), and the caffeine extraction is pretty high because of high leaf amount. It takes a while to get used to this method.

Essentially what you would be doing if you make tea this way is make a tiny, extraordinarily luscious infusion to enjoy over three or four successive steepings.  One can enjoy gyokuro larger teapot style, but that is not its native way.  If you prefer to make your gyokuro large teapot style (what we call western teapot style), then a ratio of 1.5 to 2 grams of water to every 100 ml of water your pot holds, water at around 160 to 170 for 1.5 minutes is a good place to start.  Also, if you go western style, try steeping your tea with the lid off to blow off some of the heat and not ‘cook’ the tender leaves too much.