Tea Ceremony: Gyokuro the great

Tiny tea cups
Tiny tea cups

I didn’t know what Gyokuro is, so when Mishael told me, he is trying out Gyokuro I was pretty nonchalant. While I was preparing the photo session, Mishael explained, what Gyokuro really is, and why I should be really excited to taste such amazing tea. I guess he was disgusted to see me unexcited. I mean, I am usually very excited when we shoot and do the ceremony, but for Gyokuro you need to be overly excited, which I wasn’t.

He went on, “Gyokuro is not an everyday tea. This is one of the most expensive Japanese green tea. Once you get into the world of tea there will be a time when you will be introduced to Gyokuro. More you enter deep inside the tea world, the more you look for exotic teas. Something that gives you ultimate pleasure.” Hence, I realized, for me, the experience came luckily early. It was a surprise, an extraordinary experience, to taste Gyokuro.

pouring room temperature water for first infusion
pouring room temperature water for first infusion

I will not deny that I was at first a little taken aback, when I sipped the first infusion. I had to give it sometime, take it, in two installments perhaps. But I was rather quick. While Mishael took it like a true connoisseur, I was a true novice.  The taste was nothing like usual green tea. It wasn’t sweet, sour or salty. It has a sea weed kind of an effect, some call this umami, pleasant savory taste in Japanese. Initially a grassy feeling, then it will be like sushi finally a little bit tea-ish. The colour of the first infusion is yellow.

First infusion tea
First infusion tea

Making of Gyokuro is also nothing like usual tea making experience. First, it doesn’t require boiling water. The water for this tea is rather warm to normal in temperature. For the first infusion, you put 1 tablespoon of tea in a small kettle and give enough normal water just to cover the tea, about 60 ml. Let it steep for 7 minutes. Pour in the tiny tea cups, about 1 table spoon in total, divide that into two cups and devour in one of the most uncommon taste you would know ever. You wait and let the final drop of tea come out of the kettle. Every drop of Gyokuro is like real Japanese pearl, worth the wait.

Second infusion in the process
Second infusion in the process

For the second and further infusions, add about 175 ml of warm water each time, with the wet tea and steep for 3 minutes. The water should be cool enough, for you to be able to touch the tea pot. This time you get more tea for two. You can steep it for further at least 2 or 3 times. The more you steep, the more it tastes subtle. The initial umami will be faded with consecutive infusions.

I was busy tasting the second infusion, took the image when the tea was almost over.
I was busy tasting the second infusion, took the image when the tea was almost over.

As for Mishael he loves it. For me the initial taste is very overwhelming. I don’t know if I have really liked it or not. I need to taste it few more times, to say what I really feel about Gyokuro. However the experience was extraordinary. Every tea lover should try Gyokuro at least once in a life time.

Infusion going on...
Infusion going on…

I heard, after the fifth infusion the tea loses it’s flavour, then you can actually have it with steamed rice with little bit of soya sauce, didn’t try that tough, but I am quite sure you can.

Leave a Reply