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Richard Kilgore

Japanese Green Teas - Sencha, Gyokuro...and more,

170 posts in this topic

A bit of a breakthrough today: I did a 'bulk' brewing of gyokuro to fill my thermos today, a proof of principle that it can work. Used 8 grams of tea, my 6 ounce teapot (not filled to the brim each time), and water at 160 degrees. Brewed 30", 10", 30", one last rinse at 10", and then filled the rest of the thermos with hot water. I usually enjoy three infusions of this tea brewed a small cup at a time, and this is quite comparable in quality. It also looks like a way to churn through this quite pricey tea very quickly....

Addendum: after holding for 30 minutes, the sweetness is diminished, and the bitterness is amplified. Will continue to brew and drink on the spot.


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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Probably this is something for the "holding tea before drinking" topic: the color of the tea has changed over an hour in the thermos from green to yellow liquor.

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Interesting, WmC. Gyokuro is expensive, so much so that few people in Japan drink it. It is typically drunk in very small infusions of about 2 ounces or so in a relaxed moment, and I am not aware of people brewing it in large quantities to hold and drink over several hours. Your experience certainly contributes to my understanding of why this is so.

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Sencha and gyokuro will fit better into my life as breakfast teas, because their flavors are gentle and subtle, and they give up their best quicker than the oolongs and puerhs and even the chinese green teas--meaning they're easier to fit in before work.

As for the question of how often they're drunk, I can't say that there was really anything better about this gyokuro vs the sencha we tasted from the cultured cup. This was denstea.com's 2nd quality gyokuo, and a select quality sencha, and they were really quite comparable. The sencha may have had a slightly thinner body but also lasted for more infusions.

At some point I will try a really top gyokuro, because I'm curious how it would compare to these, but I think I will be content with a nicer sencha for most drinking.


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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What an interesting thread - must reread it all with a notepad. Richard that silverish clay teapot is beautiful. Are you going to post the Matcha adventures here?

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For those of you who have more experience with these things....when a vacuum-sealed package of japanese Sencha or gyokuro is opened, how long before you start to see a drop off in quality of the brewed tea, assuming you keep it well sealed afterwards, with the dessicant inside if such is provided? And what elements seem to go first?

I am trying to figure out whether the less satifsying results I've been getting with the gyokuro in the last couple of weeks are more due to my infusion technique or the tea going off. It's been noticeably less sweet.

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How long ago did you open it, WmC?

Gyokuro and Sencha should be consumed as quickly as possible. I shoot for 30 days or less. It probably varies from one specific tea to another, but I can usually tell a difference between the day I open one and a week later because the first day is intoxicatingly good. A week later is still great. I think the deterioration after a month is quite noticeable.

I have not tried to track the elements as these age, but I'll pay more attention in the future. The sweetness, however, does decay.

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That's what I suspected. I posted here right after I first opened it, so it's been two months. I bought two ounces, the smallest size Denstea.com offers, and it's hard to see myself using it up a whole lot faster than this.

Now wondering if there is anything else I can do to preserve it--wondering if the putting half in the freezer as soon as the pouch is opened would help....hmmmm....maybe a vacuum seal-a-meal thingie?

Or just need to find a merchant who will sell it to me by the well-sealed ounce. And I will not buy it from Wing Hop Fung where they put all the tea in the bulk glass jars or cases, quite the wrong approach for this tea.

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Because I enjoyed the matcha iri genmaicha from the tasting, I bought a small sample of matcha along with some senchas when it was time to restock as my gyokuro is running out, came back to this topic, and.....how are you making your daily matcha now, Richard?

I also will be getting a bit of sencha select from the cultured cup, and have fukamushi sencha from denstea. I will be resealing and chilling what I do not use right away, for both of them--will try to remember to share notes on how that works. And I bought a plain kyusu with an integral ceramic filter, to help with the clogging problem I have when I use my chinese pots for the japanese teas, because it's clear that the japanese greens will continue to be part of my life. Tonight I'll baptize it to help finish off the gyokuro before I open the senchas.

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Not ready to try the matcha yet, but today opened the fukamushi sencha. For the first time. About 2.5 grams leaf in 6 oz kyusu, infused very short to avoid bitterness, 30", 15", 60". That last infusion was fairly flat; I guess the "deep steaming" makes it give up more of te sweet vegetal flavor earlier.

I'll work on optimizing the first infusions instead of trying to stretch it out to three or more.

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Fukamushi is typically sweet and with little or no astringency, so even with your sensitive astringency detectors you may be able to handle a usual leaf:water ratio (.6 g per ounce) and closer to usual steeping times. Worth experimenting anyway.

Can you clarify how much water you are using, WC? Is that 6 ounces (180 ml) when the kyusu is filled about 75 - 80%, or do you mean something else?

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The kyusu was rated 6 oz capacity, and when typically full, it holds 170 ml, so that was about 0.4 g/oz. I can easily see trying a bit stronger: there really wasn't much bitterness in it.

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Interesting that it would be different than a gaiwan or yixing, where it should be completely full to Help keep the temp steady.

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Used the full 0.6 g leaf per oz water this

morning, and got an intensification of the vegetal flavors without any amplification of bitterness; but there was no increase in sweetness. Amazing how rich the flavor got without astringency or bitterness.

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If it is a tall or round shape kyusu you can try filling it about 80% full max; if it is a flatter shape, you can try filling it about 60% max. That's the usual recommendation.

Interesting that it would be different than a gaiwan or yixing, where it should be completely full to Help keep the temp steady.

This may simply be that Japanese green teas are brewed at lower temps and it is not so important to maintain the initial temp. On second infusions, these green teas usually benefit by dropping the temp another ten degrees or so, which may fit in with this explanation. On the other hand, with Chinese teas we often raise the temp on later infusions.

In addition, there is less clogging with partially full pots if you pour slowly. Avoiding bruising the leaves by slow pouring and by not swirling the leaves in the pot may also help avoid astringency.

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Japanese teas are near and dear to my heart. I recommend two new shops. One has an outlet in Victoria and the other is strictly online. Try JagaSilk.com or Pavilion Tea. They are both very new and the Pavilion site is still a bit glitchy, but they really understand tea. Jagasilk is mostly independently sourced organic maccha and Pavilion has a small selection of very tasty independently sourced sencha (though it is basically gyokuro) and maccha, though no organic products. That's my two cents, hope they pan out for everyone.

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If it is a tall or round shape kyusu you can try filling it about 80% full max; if it is a flatter shape, you can try filling it about 60% max. That's the usual recommendation.

Interesting that it would be different than a gaiwan or yixing, where it should be completely full to Help keep the temp steady.

This may simply be that Japanese green teas are brewed at lower temps and it is not so important to maintain the initial temp. On second infusions, these green teas usually benefit by dropping the temp another ten degrees or so, which may fit in with this explanation. On the other hand, with Chinese teas we often raise the temp on later infusions.

In addition, there is less clogging with partially full pots if you pour slowly. Avoiding bruising the leaves by slow pouring and by not swirling the leaves in the pot may also help avoid astringency.

I am not sure where this recommendation is from, but it is not Japan. It, of course, depends on your pot, you don't want to make a blathering mess, but you should put enough tea that filling the pot to the top will give you a rich and flavorful infusion.

As for the temperature, for any tea of reasonable quality one should start with either cold water, for the highest grades, or about 110, for more average teas. Each subsequent infusion should use slightly higher temperature water, in order to bring out all of the flavor of your tea. There should be little to no flavor left in the leaves when you have consumed your fill of tea. In fact, the leaves should have opened up to the point where they are recognizable as such and can be eaten without any bitter flavor. If there is bitter flavor, find a better source for your teas. With quality leaves clogging is also not an issue as the leaves will be large and without dust.


Edited by Mr. Tea (log)

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Japanese teas are near and dear to my heart. I recommend two new shops. One has an outlet in Victoria and the other is strictly online. Try JagaSilk.com or Pavilion Tea. They are both very new and the Pavilion site is still a bit glitchy, but they really understand tea. Jagasilk is mostly independently sourced organic maccha and Pavilion has a small selection of very tasty independently sourced sencha (though it is basically gyokuro) and maccha, though no organic products. That's my two cents, hope they pan out for everyone.

Welcome, Mr. Tea!

I may be mis-reading something, but the Jagasilk site appears to carry half organic maccha and half not organic. With regard to Pavilion, can you clarify what you mean when you say that their sencha is basically gyokuro?

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Started with the Fukamushi Sencha from Dens today, and after several brewings, I think there is more umami in it than in the Sencha Select from the Cultured Cup. I think I prefer the less steamed version with the sweeter lighter flavor, but it will take more brewings of both to really be sure, especially when I'm not really comparing them head to head.

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Tried a new sencha from Dens today, the Sencha Shin-ryoku that I got as a sample in my last order. I did it as exactly as I could per their suggestions: 4 grams per 6 oz water at 160° in the kyusu for 90 seconds, first infusion, and 180 degrees for 30 seconds 2nd infusion.

I was surprised by the deep golden color of the first infusion, and how clear the liquor was--very little of the fines in it. Astonishingly sweet, tasted and looked a bit like dilute honey. Wow.

The 2nd infusion was still quite sweet, but with more umami and vegetable flavors and some astringency, not bitter, just different. And there is a sweet aftertaste in my mouth that is still providing pleasure quite a few minutes after the last sip.

I will definitely buy more of this one.

Also want to share a link I found elsewhere to a youtube video of

, by a Living Treasure.

That tea looks so gorgeous that it pretty much had me drooling on the keyboard. Now wondering how to get some of it, and how long I need to 'apprentice' with the conventional senchas that I've just begun to explore (now up to a total of perhaps 5 different preparations from only 2 sources, hardly ready to appreciate that grade of stuff yet) before I can justify seeking out some fabulous handmade stuff.


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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