A few weeks ago I wanted to step up my tea game and I entered a tea house in Vienna. I had no idea about tea, but I had to start somewhere. I asked advice about green teas and I was presented a few options. I decided to go for “Gyokuro Asahi”.
I was probably fascinated by the name and the Japanese origin, or I was simply falling into a price framing trick. It was the most expensive one, so it must be good, right?
I went home and brewed it accordingly to the label on the paper bag: 70 Celsius degrees for 5 minutes. The golden liquid I poured open my cup had almost no smell, and the taste, well, the taste was awful. There was something wrong.
So I went online and did a bit of research. I found out that the Gyukuro is probably the most delicious Sencha tea of all. It’s also super tasty and full of caffeine because it spends the laste three weeks before being harvested, under thick carpets so to stress the plant and give a better product.
It’s also quite complex to brew and there are several methods. I trie a few of them and I finally settled for one that I like a lot: I start with a 7 min cold brew with just a splash of water. The first brew is amazing, it gives a dense soupy juice that it’s a pleasure to taste. Umami level 9000.
After that I simply brew a few more times starting at 45 Celsius degrees for 20 seconds, increasing by ten degrees and 20 seconds every time. So it goes: 20sec at 45C, 40sec at 55C, 60sec at 65C, 80sec at 75C.
The result is amazing. It’s a tea that keeps an intense umami, but it has a slight change of flavor at every brewing, keeping it’s unique aroma.
I had never had anything like that before. It’s also true that before I was using tea bags, and the maximum extent of my knowledge about teas, it was the brand that was printed on the box.
After five brewings, the Gyokuro leaves are perfect for another amazing purpose. They complete their journey enhancing a bowl of rice, maybe enriched with anice and cardamom. Today I added fresh shrimp, glazed with garlic and chili. The results was extraordinary.
I had never thought that entering a tea house would have brought such a nice twist to my table.