*We may earn money from links in this post. Learn more here.

Best Gyokuro Tea

Japanese green Gyokuro tea

Our Recommendations For The Top Gyokuro in 2021

Don’t waste your money buying the wrong Gyokuro! Gyokuro isn’t cheap, which makes taking the initial plunge intimidating. That’s why we’ve compiled a short guide with our beginner recommendations for the best gyokuro tea. You can also find instructions for brewing and what to look for when buying tea yourself.

Gyokuro tea is gaining popularity in the West due to its unique and refreshing taste. If you’re looking for a novel tea that stands above the crowd, gyokuro might be the next step on your tea drinking adventure.

#1 Uji Gyokuro Tea by Tea Mind Body

Tea Mind Body is a unique tea shop that sells only Organic loose leaf teas. The company sells healthy, premium teas online, ensuring that you can get your fix without leaving your home.

Tea Mind Body’s gyokuro green tea is from Uji Japan. It has all the traditional hallmarks of a top gyokuro, including dark, glossy leaves and a sweet, earthy aroma.

Buyers can choose from a 1.8 oz or 8 oz pouch, which goes a surprisingly long way, especially if you re-steep your tea. Unfortunately, the tea itself is costly, but well worth it according to many reviewers.

Pros:

  • Well-known, reputable brand
  • Gyokuro of Japanese origin
  • Small bags allow for sampling before committing to a larger amount

Cons:

  • Expensive, even for gyokuro tea

#2 Tealyra Handmade Premium First Flush Gyokuro Green Tea

Tealyra traditional gyokuro tea comes from the award-winning Yame region of Japan. Yame tends to sell mainly in Japan, so it’s great to see a Grade One Yame Gyokuro tea available in the West.

You can buy either a 3.5 oz or 7 oz resealable bag of the tea, which is more than enough for special occasions and entertaining. The packaging comes with instructions on brewing the tea, but many people find the steeping time too long and the temperature slightly too high. Feel free to experiment to find a happy medium that suits you.

You can get around three steeps from this tea, which is about average. Remember to extend the steeping time by 10 seconds for every steep to prevent the tea from getting weaker and less flavorful.

Pros:

  • Premium gyokuro tea from the Yame region
  • Full-bodied umami flavor with a hint of sweetness
  • Organic

Cons:

  • Instructions don’t offer the best brewing recommendations

#3 Ocha & Co Organic Japanese Gyokuro Green Tea

Ocha & Co gyokuro comes from the Shizuoka region in Japan. The cool temperatures of the area result in slow growth, which concentrates the aroma and nutrients, even more so than other gyokuro teas. This slow growth results in a perfect body and complex flavors typical of the Shizuoka region.

What makes this gyokuro so special is that it’s blended by a master tea maker, ensuring that you get an astonishingly good cup of tea. Even regular gyokuro drinkers will be surprised by the depth and subtlety of this particular blend.

Ocha & Co ship small batches weekly to ensure maximum freshness of all their products. The bags are vacuum sealed immediately after processing, giving you unparalleled freshness.

Pros:

  • Made by award-winning Ocha & Co
  • Lots of care taken while packaging the tea to ensure maximum freshness
  • Distinct taste and aroma

Cons:

  • Small batches mean you have to wait several days for delivery

What Is Gyokuro Tea?

Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea with a reputation for its sweet, gentle flavor and distinct, earthy aroma. It’s one of the most expensive teas you can buy, and many tea connoisseurs consider it to be one of the best teas in the world.

While gyokuro is similar to sencha, the method of cultivation differs dramatically. Gyokuro grows at low altitudes in the shade, with very little exposure to direct sunlight. The reduced light inhibits chlorophyll development, which results in dark leaves that contain more caffeine and more L-theanine. L-theanine converts into catechin in the presence of sunlight, and it’s this increased amount of L-theanine that gives gyokuro its sweet, umami taste.

The main reason why gyokuro is so expensive is that the plants are harvested once a year. The lack of sunlight results in a fragile plant that needs extra care and attention. Typically, farmers will harvest the youngest buds (first flush) in the spring and then allow the plant to recover for the rest of the year. Since so little tea gets produced, the demand is extremely high, which drives up the cost.

Luckily, even a small pot of gyokuro is more than sufficient for enjoying the unique aroma and taste of this distinct and refreshing tea.

How To Brew the Ultimate Cup of Gyokuro

Gyokuro is a delicate tea and requires a lot of care while brewing. It requires low-temperature water and longer steep times to bring out the sweet flavor without adding any unwanted bitterness. Ideally, you want your water between 122°F and 140°F, erring on the low side.

The traditional way to brew gyokuro tea is to add boiling water into an empty teapot, enough for every person’s cup. Pour the water into each cup, filling it to the brim, and then pour this water back into the teapot. Doing so cools the water by 50°F. Then pour the water back into the teacups, again filling them to the brim.

Add around two teaspoons of gyokuro leaves per cup of tea into the empty teapot. Pour the water from the teacups into the pot and allow it to steep for around two minutes. The leaves should start to unfurl.

Start pouring by adding a small amount of tea to each teacup, repeating the process until the teapot is empty. This method ensures that everyone gets the same strength tea instead of thoroughly filling one cup before moving onto the second and third.

You can reuse your tea leaves for up to four more infusions. During the second infusion, keep the water temperature to around 140°F and steep for 15 seconds. Since the leaves have already steeped once, this second steep is only to release the flavors. Repeat the process for further infusions and add ten more seconds to the steeping time per infusion.

The trickiest part of brewing the ideal cup of gyokuro is to find the right temperature. If you have a temperature-control kettle, then you get close to the perfect temperature of 122°F. However, if you have an older kettle, you may need to do some trial and error to determine how much cooling time you need.

A general rule of thumb is that if the tea is too mild, increase the temperature, and if it’s too bitter, reduce it. You could also experiment with the amount of tea you add since people have different tastes when it comes to tea strength.

How To Choose a Good Gyokuro

If you’re spending your hard-earned money on a well-deserved luxury, you want to make sure you’re buying the best. It’s challenging to purchase tea online sight unseen, so make sure to ask for samples to help make your decision.

Origin

Make sure that the tea’s origin is clearly stated on the packaging. If you can’t find it, it’s likely that the tea doesn’t come from Japan or is a blend of several different kinds.

When looking for authentic Japanese gyokuro, there are three key regions to keep in mind. These are:

  • Fukuoka prefecture (Yame and surrounding areas)
  • Kyoto prefecture (Uji and surrounding areas)
  • Shizuoka prefecture (Asahina and surrounding areas)

You can find some good non-Japanese gyokuro, but if you’re new to gyokuro, then sticking to these three main regions of origin is a safe bet. Once you’re feeling more adventurous, feel free to explore the options that other areas offer.

Appearance

Gyokuro leaves are dark green, glossy, and finely rolled into needles. You should never see any twigs or broken leaves, which indicates mishandling during processing.

Taste

Ideally, try to get a sample if you can’t taste the tea directly. The tea should taste slightly sweet with a refreshing, umami taste. It shouldn’t be astringent or bitter. You may sometimes get a somewhat stale batch, which has a little less flavor than fresh gyokuro.

Packaging

Buy your gyokuro in small, airtight packages and avoid buying in bulk. As with all tea, gyokuro will oxidize and lose some of its taste and quality. Since you don’t need a lot of gyokuro leaves to brew a large pot of gyokuro, and since you can get four infusions out of your leaves, even a small package will go a surprisingly long way.

Price

Price should be a general indicator. Avoid gyokuro that is significantly cheaper than its competitors since it’s likely that it is not genuine gyokuro or a lower-quality product.

However, that doesn’t mean that more expensive is automatically better. Just like wine, everyone will have their preferred choice, even if it isn’t the most expensive one on the list. If you like the tea, then that’s the best gyokuro tea for you.

Final Thoughts

Buying the best gyokuro tea is an investment, and it can be scary buying a tea without tasting it first. Our guidelines can help you pick your first gyokuro tea and set you on the path to true tea heaven. Once you’ve identified your taste, feel free to experiment and find other products that you love!