March 20, 2011

Tea Review: Sullivan Street Gyokuro

First, our prayers for Japanese citizens worldwide.

It has been a long time since I have shared a tea review.  Luckily for me, I walked by Sullivan Street tea & spice company on its opening day on March 20.  I purchased 1 ounce of Gyokuro and 3 ounces of Wuyi.  I spoke with the owner (who with his sister owns Grounded Organic Coffee & Tea House on Jane Street in the West Village) who told me that he sources his teas from vendors at the major tea trade shows.  (Here's our photo of the tea menu at Grounded.)

Sullivan Street is a really cool concept.  The company offers teas, spices, and potted herbs.  It is bright with natural light from large windows and open with an uncluttered layout.

Available teas are packed in small glass jars so that you can smell them before purchasing them.  I wanted to buy a Japanese green and an oolong.  The first of each I smelled was the one I bought.  The Wuyi was priced at $3 per ounce while the Gyokuro was priced at $9 per ounce.  According to the Gyokuro wiki page, it "is one of the most expensive types of sencha available in Japan."  Also, unlike other teas, Gyokuro tea plants are shaded in the spring.

1 teaspoon, dry
1 teaspoon, post-rinse
Here is my review of the Gyokuro.  I rinsed 1 teaspoon with 160-degree F water which revealed a ripe avocado aroma.  (I conducted a web search after preparing the tea and many sites stated that this type of green tea should be steeped at lower temperatures than other greens.)

10s steep

At 10s, the tea tasted creamy smooth while at 20s some astringency had developed.  Our experience contrasts with Rishi-Tea's notes on Gyokuro that this tea is "without bitterness or astringency."  At 40s, the tea smelled like a broken stem with the astringency at the end -- no longer at the beginning -- of the sip.  The tea began to coat my tongue at 80s but I could no longer detect individual flavors.

20s steep
wet leaves at 80s
I enjoyed preparing and drinking this tea and look forward to experimenting with the remainder of it.  In particular, I will follow the instructions given for Gyokuro preparation on the Maiko website.

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