I want to take this chance to thank Nio Teas for the great opportunity to try all of these teas. They are a Swiss company that imports tea directly from Japan and distributes it around Europe and the U.S. They have a great Facebook page and youtube channel that helps educate people about fine Japanese tea. If anyone is looking to get more into tea, this is a great place to start.
The tea I will be trying today is the Gyokuro Cha Masume. For those of you who may not know, Gyokuro is a special type of Japanese green tea that is grown in the sun and then it is progressively shaded in preparation of harvesting. This lack of sun causes the tea plant to produce more chlorophyll, which chemically alters the plant making the end product greener and sweeter. The tea is then tightly rolled into distinctive needle shapes. This is a prized possession in Japan, and Gyokuro is considered by many to be the best Japanese green tea. If you haven’t tried this tea yet, you should try to get a hold of some as soon as possible because it is a real treat.
As soon as I opened this tea, I knew I was going to like it. The packaging is gorgeous, it depicts a beautiful woman with tea fields, cherry blossoms and a blue mountain in the background. For many, these are the three things they think about when they think of the natural beauty of Japan, and it definitely got me in the mood to try some amazing Japanese tea. I opened the package and stuck my nose inside to give the tea a smell before brewing it. Maybe it was because the package hadn’t been opened yet but for some reason it was the best smelling tea I had ever experienced. It was so fresh and vibrant. The aroma wasn’t one-dimensional either, it was a complex symphony of floral, vegetal and grassy aromas.
I know many of you are drinking bagged tea from the supermarket, and that is fine. You can definitely enjoy much of the physical and meditative qualities of tea from just a tea bag. But if you ever have the opportunity to try something like this I would highly recommend it. It is a much deeper connection knowing that the tea you are drinking was hand rolled by a small family farm with care and love and then it was immediately packaged and sent to you. You really notice the quality in the taste and aroma, and all of this greatly enhances your tea drinking experience.
I set the temperature of the water to just about 60 Celsius and brewed the tea for 1 minute. Immediately, the leaves began to unfurl and release their delicious flavor. The tea pot started to take on the aroma of fresh cut grass and steamed vegetables.
Unlike the Tamaryokuchas, this Gyokuro has no body or bitterness to it. All you taste is the sweet vegetal flavor in the beginning and then the deep umami aftertaste towards the end. If you steep it a bit longer, which I like to do every once and awhile, you begin to notice some more complex flavors. It doesn’t necessarily get more bitter, but the flavor does begin to intensify. It starts to almost taste like a genmaicha, which I think is really interesting. As it steeps more, you also lose the vegetal, seaweedy taste that a lot of true green tea lovers tend to enjoy.
This tea is so great to play around with. It’s good for a few different steepings and it takes on a different flavor each time. This tea is great to enjoy any time of day, but for some reason I always like to enjoy Gyokuro outside. The fresh green tea makes me feel more connected to nature and it only seems appropriate to drink it outside.
I really enjoyed this tea and I am so grateful for the opportunity to try it. I’d like to thank Nio for this wonderful tea, and I would like to encourage you all to browse some of their content when you get a chance.