|Gyokuro (玉露) is a fine and expensive type of green tea from Japan. Selected from a grade of green tea known as sencha (煎茶), gyokuro's name refers to the pale green color of the infusion. Most of sencha is made by Yabukita variety, but Gyokuro is often made by specialized variety such as Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai and Saemidori.
Merchants selling Japanese green tea will typically recommend a unique method for brewing gyokuro:twice the weight in dry tea leaves for a given quantity of water (e.g. 6 to 10 grams for 180 ml);cooler brewing temperatures (in the range of 50ºC-60ºC instead of 65ºC-75ºC for sencha, High-end Gyokuro such as National tea jury rank-in is at 40ºC);a longer steeping duration, at least for the first infusion (90 second instead of 1 minute for sencha).
|Though it is categorized as a type of sencha according to production methods, gyokuro cultivation differs from other sencha teas. Gyokuro tea leaves are covered up to be shielded from the sun for at least two weeks before being harvested. This causes the amino acids (Theanine) and caffeine in the tea leaves to increase, while catechin (the source of bitterness in tea) decreases, giving rise to a sweet flavor. The tea also gains a distinct aroma from the covering process. This type of cultivation is also used in producting tencha, (碾茶) but records indicate that this process had already been developed in the Azuchi-Momoyama period.
Gyokuro is one of the most expensive types of sencha available in Japan. The name comes from the product name given to the tea by the Yamamotoyama company. The tea was first discovered by Yamamotoyama's sixth owner, Yamamoto Kahei, in 1835 (Tenpō year 6). The process was completed by another manufacturer at the start of the Meiji period.