Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more


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Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Suutej_Tsaj » Jan 14th, '13, 16:35

Hello, green tea lovers! As I said in another topic, since I started taking tea seriously I've been drinking mostly Twinings Gunpowder (exception made for some Matcha at a Japanese restaurant and a recent acquisition of Sencha). Being the only one in my family drinking green tea, I usually warm 1,2 l of tap water (the local aqueduct is arguably one of the safest in the country) to boil, let it cool for 30-40 seconds and then steep 4 teaspoons of tea in it for about 4 minutes.
Now, I have roughly 50 g of Gyokuro sitting on the shelf in their nice emerald packaging. To be honest, its fame makes me doubt about my technique. Will it be appropriate? Am I doing something wrong, generally speaking? I want to make the best out of this tea, so feel free to share your experiences with this novice.
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby JRS22 » Jan 14th, '13, 17:19

Sounds like too hot water for too long. I usually steep Gyokuro for 2 minutes with 140° water with preheated teaware. Also, there's some helpful advice in this thread. Kevangogh is the owner of O-Cha.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15397&p=196582&hilit=+Gyokuro#p196582
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Poohblah » Jan 14th, '13, 17:42

http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/en/tea/gyokuro_01.html

Gyokuro is brewed quickly at low temperatures at a high ratio of tea to water. Pay attention to the amount of water: 80mL for 10g of tea according to Ippodo. This is a lot of tea and not very much water.
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Chip » Jan 14th, '13, 18:57

There are more methods to the brewing of "Precious Dew" than I have tried. I am timid to go the full throttle as recommended by Zencha, 5 grams per ounce (30 ml) water, but I promised Nishiki I would with the batch of Gyokuro the Ultimate I recently purchased for Gyokuro OTTI (shameless plug). Ippodo is up there in leaf to water ratio too.

I seem to have been slowly evolving my brewing instead of jumping head first. It was a big deal for me to finally try 2 grams per ounce water ... I was astounded by the brew.

Lately I have slowly been upping the leaf again.

Temperature can make or break a great gyokuro. I usually see 50-55-60* C for brewing fine grades of Gyokuro. But Zencha on their actual brew page states 40*. I usually am in the 50-55* range.

Time, I always settle on 90 seconds for the first steep because it always works. But if you stumble onto Fukamushi or perhaps even Chumushi Gyokuro, time may be best be reduced.

2nd steep can be almost as good as the first. Again "cool" water but a bit warmer for less than 30 seconds. 3rd a bit hotter for 60 seconds. And so on ... it is not unusual for me to brew 5, 6, 7 steeps and sometimes even more. I let the tea's progress dictate.

Now the big questions is how good or bad is your gyokuro. Many teas sold as gyokuro are actually Kabusecha (which is brewed more like sencha) ... boooo!!! And if you do have the real deal, depending on how well it was stored, etc. it could be excellent, very good, good, not so good, terrible ...
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Kevangogh » Jan 14th, '13, 22:26

In case you are interested, I made a page with step-by-step instructions on how to make gyokuro properly. I was taught by a full time, professional tea maker in Uji, I used to walk by their shop everyday when I was working out of the Tsuen tea house. One day I went in and has a 2 hour gyokuro session with them, it was very insightful.
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Devoted135 » Jan 14th, '13, 22:56

Chip wrote:
Temperature can make or break a great gyokuro. I usually see 50-55-60* C for brewing fine grades of Gyokuro. But Zencha on their actual brew page states 40*. I usually am in the 50-55* range.

Time, I always settle on 90 seconds for the first steep because it always works. But if you stumble onto Fukamushi or perhaps even Chumushi Gyokuro, time may be best be reduced.

2nd steep can be almost as good as the first. Again "cool" water but a bit warmer for less than 30 seconds. 3rd a bit hotter for 60 seconds. And so on ... it is not unusual for me to brew 5, 6, 7 steeps and sometimes even more. I let the tea's progress dictate.


This is something that has been stumping me for a while now. How does one achieve higher temperatures of water as time passes?
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Chip » Jan 15th, '13, 00:55

I use an electric kettle which I bring to a full boil. First steep water is poured into the gyokuro teapot, from there to a watercooler/pitcher/yuzamashi, and from there to the cup(s). I do very small steeps, 2-3 ounces (sometimes even smaller) for Gyokuro ... so the water cools to the desired temp pretty fast via these pours. As the water is approaching the right temp in the cups, I pour the leaves into the teapot to warm them a bit maybe 10-20 seconds before I think the water will be ready.

But the water in the kettle stays very hot, so I can usually get 4-5 steeps in without reheating the water at all. The key for me is to bring it to a full boil at the start.

Sounds complicated? It is a bit but with some practice it all just comes together like a symphony coming to a crescendo with the pour of the first steep. It also helps to be focused and to not have a lot of distractions around you as you brew.

I did not mention earlier, it is critical to preheat the teapot and cups for gyokuro since you are brewing at a cooler temp!
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Devoted135 » Jan 15th, '13, 12:09

Oh, that makes so much more sense now! Thanks, as always, for your help Chip! :D
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby chado.my.teaway » Jan 19th, '13, 04:57

thanks for help Chip! your post explain so many things:p
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Suutej_Tsaj » Jan 19th, '13, 11:47

Thanks to everyone for the answers. One question still remains, though: how do you brew for more than one person? If I have understood Ippodo's explanation correctly, that method provides you one cup per steep only, since you won't have the time to cool down another cup of water before the first one in the teapot is done. What should the leaves to water ratio be if you're going to brew for, say, four people?
Not that it matters, since I make tea for myself only most of the times. Just curious.
I think I'll try Ippodo's method first, then the one from O-Cha*.




*By the way, thank you for the advice on Sencha on your website. It has been utmost useful!
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Poohblah » Jan 19th, '13, 15:04

just use more water and more tea, keep the ratio the same...
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby JRS22 » Jan 19th, '13, 15:45

Poohblah wrote:just use more water and more tea, keep the ratio the same...


+1

Also, pour the tea from the pot into a server and from there to the cups. That way everybody's tea has the same intensity.
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Chip » Jan 19th, '13, 16:04

Ippodo's directions are a bit confusing ... as I recall. They say something like use 10 grams even if you are making tea for one, which implies what?

At the time I interpreted that to mean even if you are making less tea ... using less water, you still use 10 grams.

I should take a look again.
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Chip » Jan 19th, '13, 16:16

OK, they added a volume to use for that amount, 80 ml. This is a pretty rich ratio of more than 3:1. If you try this with a mediocre Gyokuro you will be sadly disappointed.

Alternately to using more water and thus much more gyokuro if you are following a set ration, you can use smaller cups or simply pour less tea into each cup. This makes preheating even more critical IMHO.

Ippodo wrote:The key to preparing Japanese green tea properly in a kyusu teapot is the combination of three things - the amount of tea leaves, water temperature, and brewing time. Firstly, the most fundamental aspect is the amount of tea leaves used. It is important to note that the proper amount differs depending on where the leaves were grown and the tea dealer. The proper amount that Ippodo specifies for bringing out the taste that Ippodo wants its customers to enjoy is 10 grams.


Notice the 3 important things they list ...

Amount of leaves
Water temp
Brew time

Notice the omission of amount of water ... perhaps this is implied? But they repeatedly stress using 10 grams of leaf. This confused this Westerner. Instead of amount of leaves, I would personally say the Leaf to Water ratio ... IMHO.
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Re: Gyokuro - Brewing tips and more

Postby Chip » Jan 19th, '13, 16:24

At the end of this slide show, there is a link to a narrated video showing a 3 person serving. It appears they simply use less water per person but the same 80 ml. When the Gyokuro is in the cups, I could almost smell its richness!!!
http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/en/tea/gyokuro_01.html


They recommend 140*, 60*C. But note they do not preheat the pot. I tend to use lower temps, but I do preheat the pot. "Same difference" perhaps. :idea: :?: :arrow:

BTW, this is where I learned how to pronounce Gyokuro ... boy was I wayyyy off. 8)
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