Gyokuro Tea has two qualities that make it so very special. First, proper soil
is selected with the exact quality of nutrition and moisture. Secondly, the leaves
are hand selected and manually kneaded or "pressed." These two exceptional aspects
are impossible to maintain at large-scale tea gardens. Every step of the production
is verified with the craftsman's own eyes and the touch of his own hands. This
relentless individual care assures best results for superb taste and superior
quality of the tea. Each step of the manufacturing process is checked making adjustments
according to the particular climate of that year. Permitting enough time to cultivate
the leaves slowly is the basis for the Yamashita Gyokuro production. Carefully
supervised cultivation under the best conditions ensures no trace of bitterness
but only the typical Gyokuro sweetness.
Very careful selection by hand picking the tea leaves one at a time
Gyokuro tea is picked entirely by hand. This personal unique manner of hand
picking (Shigokitsumi) ensures that Gyokuro leaves are protected from the
damage caused by scissors or harvest machinery. For this reason, it is
only possible to harvest a few kilograms a day. Furthermore, since the percentage
of water in tea leaves is very high in our area, only 15 % of the initial
weight will remain after the leaves are processed. 3 kilograms of tea leaves
take about 4 to 5 hours of hand pressing and will result in 500 grams of delicious
Following the Shigokitsumi
(hand picked) harvest, the leaves are treated with high temperature steam and
then instantaneously cooled off. Mr. Yamashita has improved these steps over many
years of experience. This very important steaming process prevents any further
fermentation of the green tea. The success of this steaming greatly influences
the quality of all further processing.
Dedication to manual pressing
Mr. Yamashita insists that
all further steps of the manufacture are done by manual pressing of the leaves.
In modern Japan the manual kneading of tea has become an absolute oddity.
Most Gyokuro producers have abandoned this tedious and time-consuming 'old-fashioned'
method. But it is exactly this part of the manufacture that enables the expert
craftsman to scrutinize the produce thoroughly and to eliminate all pieces that
are damaged. This indeed is the very heart of the exceptional Yamashita Gyokuro
The last stage of the masterful
procedure is called 'itazuri'. Because the water content of the tea cultivated
in this geographical area is very high, it is necessary to add another rubbing
of the tea. This part of the process is an exclusive tradition only observed in
the Kyoto area: 30 minutes of itazuri at the end of this amazing cycle.
Proper enjoyment of Yamashita Gyokuro
For achieving the best
taste of Yamashita Gyokuro the right temperature of the hot water is of utmost
importance. Exceedingly hot water (70° C - 100 ° C) may cause some
astringency and diminuishes the uniquely sweet aroma that makes Gyokuro so enjoyable
and special. Superior quality Gyokuro needs an extraction time of approximately
2 minutes and the water temperature should be about 40 ° C (the same as for
a warm bath) in order to attain the best consistency and a flavor that surpasses
all previously experienced savors of tea. Taking a sip of this high quality
tea for the first time a gentleman in England exclaimed: " This is like soup!
" What a true and fitting expression! Please take plenty of time to infuse
this tea and let it slowly spread on your tongue. Then you will experience the
same sensational Gyokuro flavor that seems to linger in your mouth forever. How
to prepare delicious Gyokuro
Yamashita's Gyokuro is only purchasable through the MaikoTea