While white Tea is my favorite variety of tea to drink, I’m also a big fan of green tea. So I figured it would be fun to periodically review some of the green teas that I enjoy. Today, I’m sampling a Gyokuro Saemidori. Full disclosure- I’m not a Japanese Green Tea expert…by any means! I’ve only probably had around 20-25 or so different Gyokuros in my life, at most! While I enjoy the heck out of them, I'm still very much in the process of learning about Japanese teas.
“Saemidori” is a cultivar developed in Japan, grown predominately in Kogashima Prefecture, the origin of this particular Gyokuro. Even though this cultivar is relatively recent (1990’s), it has developed quite a solid reputation as a quality cultivar that consistently delivers high quality teas.
Beautiful Lime-Green Infusion
I started with one tablespoon in 8oz of 165 degree water, brewed in a Kyusu, per the distributors instructions.
First infusion- 30 seconds
Appearance: This first infusion produced a pale green liquor. Not particularly spectacular looking.
Aroma: Hints of vegetable, hay, and ocean. Actually smells great.
Flavor: Umami flavor right off the bat. This fades to a mild vegetal sweetness and oceanic/seaweed notes.
Second infusion- 60 seconds
Appearance: The second infusion produced a slightly hazy, bright lime-green liquor that saemidori is known for. The color is truly amazing.
Aroma: Much stronger vegetal notes with clear oceanic quality.
Flavor: the Umami flavor is surprisingly strong. The mild vegetal sweetness has also gotten stronger. The oceanic quality is covered by a slight bitterness at the finish, making a sort of soapy flavor. Typical of over-brewed Japanese greens, though this was brewed exactly to the distributors suggestions..
Third infusion- 90 seconds
Appearance: The third infusion appears more mellow than the second. The color has softened slightly, and the haze that was present in the second infusion is totally absent. Still a vibrant lime green infusion that is really beautiful to look at.
Flavor: Umami has mellowed out leaving more apparent sweetness. The oceanic quality has returned to the tale end of the sip, giving it almost a seaweed type flavor. The astringency is now totally absent. Very very nice cup, this one.
Overall I really enjoy this Gyokuro. The color is really something to behold, and if you put this in a clear glass and brought it to work, you would definitely attract some attention from your coworkers. It has some very strong umami flavors which I find enjoyable. The oceanic flavor and mild sweetness are really tasty, but the temperature and brew time on this have got to be pretty tight, so the process for brewing a tasty cup probably exists within a very narrow window. I have a feeling even 10 degrees warmer and 30 seconds longer and you would be sipping on something that tasted like rotten seaweed mixed with hand soap. That isn’t really a mark against this tea, as you should make your tea properly, but the reality of it is some people don't have the time to do this in the morning. If that is you, this might be reserved for when you can devote your full attention to brewing a cup. Also, some people do not find umami to be a refreshing flavor, and I could see the strength of the umami in this fatiguing for some. Overall, very good cup of tea.