Gyokuro tea green shaded Ashina Shizuoka Kyoto Tokusen Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Gyokuro tea
Food article / commentary

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Gyokuro is a delicate and refined green tea that has been shaded with mats made of reeds for the last ten to twenty days before harvesting so that it retains a brilliant green colour. The shading process reduces the likelihood of photosynthesis occurring.
It was first grown in the mountains of the Uji district near Kyoto and now is also cultivated in the Yame region of Fukuoka and the Ashina region of Shizuoka. After the finest leaves are picked, they are steamed, dried and then rolled to the distinctive needle shape.
In Japan Gyokuro goes by various names including ‘jade dew', ‘pearl dew', ‘jewelled dewdrops' and ‘precious dewdrops'. It is one of the most expensive and highly-sought after teas produced in that country.
It seems to have everything going for it. Gyokuro has a large quantity of the amino acid, theanine, a component of the distinctive sweet taste. It is also high in caffeine (a bonus for we coffee lovers) and catechin. Catechin, which is a bioflavonoid related to tannin, has been receiving a lot of attention for its health qualities. Studies have shown that people in the Shizuoka prefecture who drink more than ten cups of green tea a day, live longer and are less likely to suffer from some cancers. In addition, theanine is reported to have a positive effect on the liver - maybe there is hope for us yet!
Because of the brilliance of the colour and the subtlety of the flavour, we like to make this tea at a reduced temperature, around 150°F. You can tell when the water reaches this temperature because it is when the steam just starts to break free from the surface, but before the bubbles start to form.
Leave it for about three minutes (no longer otherwise it becomes bitter) after you pour the water over and then pour to savour the delicate flavour.
We find that it is a perfect afternoon tea as a refresher when you want to keep working either in the office or in the garden.
If you can find the organic Tokusen brand, then you will be in for a particularly rare treat.
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