This is Japan’s best green tea (made from single buds that are picked only in April/May. In an effort to develop increased chlorophyll (making them dark green) and reduced the tannin (giving a sweeter flavor with no bitterness), the tea is covered with black curtains or bamboo and straw shades for 3 weeks in early spring. The leaves are small – about 3/4’s on an inch long and extremely fragrant and tender. Immediately after plucking the leaves are taken to the factory and steamed for about 30 minutes to seal in the flavor and arrest fermentation. Next they are fluffed with hot air and pressed and dried to 30% moisture content. Repeated rolling takes place until the tea develops long thin dark green needles at which time it is finally dried to a 4-6% moisture content. Gyokuro has been referred to as “history, philosophy and art in a single cup.”
This is the best green tea of Japan. Usually brewed in a Kyushu (special Japanese teapot) and served in handless cups.
The Japanese take the tea drinking very seriously, the better it is the more they is willing to pay for it. It is not uncommon the some Gyokuro’s tea sell for more that $1000.00 per pound – arguably the most expensive tea in the world. Why is Gyokuro tea so expensive?
Old Tea trees are shaded to reduce the effect of photosynthesis and there is almost an insane cachet that seems to be unique to Japan about drinking rare green teas.
The Japanese make many health claims about green tea such as: Reduces the incidence of cancer – Their studies relate to the high levels of catechins in tea. One study by Y.Nakamura concluded that green tea and catechin markedly inhibited the development of cancer. This study utilized data from a survey of inhabitants of Shizuoka (the major tea growing region of Japan) where green tea is a staple product and a main beverage where the inhabitants daily consume as much as 1 – 1.5g of green tea catechins in their tea drinking.
The survey suggests that green tea catechins played a significant role in a low SMR (Standardized Mortality Ratio). The scientific aspect of the study when combined with the survey lead the scientists to the conclusion that there is a striking reduction in the cancer death rate amongst residents who are accustomed to drinking quite strong tea and frequently changing the tea leaves.
Green Tea Suppresses Aging – It has been shown in other studies that high the concentrations of powerful antioxidant Vitamin E and C in the bodies of animals the longer they lived. Prof. Okuba demonstrated that catechin in green tea is a far stronger antioxidant than vitamin E, leading to a hypothesis that green tea contains a powerful antioxidant that is believed to help control aging.