Tuesday, December 7, 2010

GYOKURO 2010. Yum.

I hopped into Sanko yesterday and their fresh Gyokuro had arrived.  This was $10 for a 50gram bag.  I'm only telling you so you understand that this cannot be the really good stuff.  But OMG.  When I opened the bag I was knocked out by the rush of its big rich sweet aroma.  I decided that it would definitely be worth brewing this up in spring water (although I hate the plastic bottle it comes in) instead of (pretty decent) Toronto tap water.  Just to up the potential for the sheer joy in the tea, know what I mean?

Brewed in 72C water for 1 minute.

Fresh 2010 Gyokuro from Sanko -- if you click on the photo
you can really see the rolled needle shape and the delicate
tea dust covering it all.

The dry leaves show a more uniform needle shape than the batch last week, but then that was the end of the package.  The leaves are a lovely deep blue-green and are shiny and smooth.  It's also showing fewer bright green bits and those bits look more yellow than green when compared to last week's Gyokuro.

The wet leaves, wow, much more depth/nuance to the aroma.  Immediately get more of the wonderful marine scent, more of the vegetal, and great sweetness and something nutty, like ground hazelnuts or Brazil nuts. (I should know my nuts better!)

The liquor has quite a bit of colour -- jade blue-green, is lightly cloudy and has tea dust floating in it.

Gyokuro -- note the little bits of leaf dust.

The flavour is very nice.  Interestingly, while the flavours are bigger, broader, deeper than last week's Gyokuro, its mouthfeel is not quite as big and satiny smooth.  There's no astringency but I can feel a slight burr of the leaf bits.  It's quite pleasant but I wasn't expecting it.  This tea also has more of a distinct but light, and very nice, tang at the back of the tongue after it goes down. Overall this is the most flavourful Gyokuro I've every had.  A real treat, and yes, a joy.

I think I'm coming to the opinion that fresh tea is really the only way tea should be drunk.  (Except for Pu-er, of course.)  Definitely current year's production, and best not over six months old.  Sadly, I probably won't be able to find this tea most of the time.  And my overstuffed tea drawer(s) mean I'm guilty of over-aging the tea too.

I will keep brewing this tea over the next few days, and add some notes.  It's possible that in my rush I may not have let the water cool enough.   Which means, oh darn -- I have to taste more Gyokuro.

CUT TO: Two days later.
Ok, this tea improves with a cooler steep -- and it was already bringing me joy.  Yup, when those in the know say 'steep this at 60C to 65C' gosh darn it they know of what they speak.

Yesterday I steeped it for 1 minute at 64C and noticed it had a rounder, smoother feel in the mouth. And today I've done it at 62C and it's definitely rounder, smoother in the mouth and sweeter overall because it's lost pretty much all but a little note of its bitter tang.  I didn't mind the bitter tang with all the sweetness but it was, in hindsight, brought out by the hotter water.

The liquor is, naturally, a paler jade green, still abit cloudy but not as much.  The wet leaves give more of the wonderful ground nut aroma and a slight toastyness.

Oh Yum.

It's tulip time at the corner grocery stores again in Toronto and I've a bouquet in the middle room that, every time I stride by, overwhelms with its wonderful sweet green-peppery aroma.  I love, love the smell of fresh tulips, don't you?
OK, nothing to do with tea but oh my do these tulips smell good!

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