Mastering the Craft: The Art of Gyokuro Brewing



Embark on a mesmerizing journey into the world of Gyokuro, where delicate flavours, meticulous craftsmanship, and refined brewing techniques converge to create an unforgettable tea experience.


Indulge in the Unparalleled Sophistication of Gyokuro


A Rare and Delicate Tea Experience

Experience the allure of Gyokuro, a revered Japanese green tea celebrated for its exceptional quality and subtle flavours. With its vibrant deep-green leaves and unparalleled richness, Gyokuro promises a tea-drinking adventure like no other. Prepare to be captivated by its intense aromas, delightful sweetness, and enchanting Umami essence.


Unveiling the Meticulous Craftsmanship Behind Gyokuro

Gyokuro stands out among teas due to its meticulous cultivation process. Only the tender leaves of the spring harvest are handpicked, ensuring the utmost quality. While sharing cultivation techniques with Sencha tea, Gyokuro distinguishes itself in two key ways. Thriving in nourishing healthy soil, Gyokuro leaves boast elevated levels of Theanine and amino acids, contributing to its unique Umami character. Additionally, farmers shield the tea bushes from direct sunlight for about three weeks before harvest. This shading triggers a transformative response, increasing chlorophyll production and reducing the conversion of Theanine into astringent catechins. The result is a Gyokuro tea with an intensely Umami-laden flavour, velvety smoothness, and a captivating lush green hue, devoid of any bitterness or astringency.


Drawing Parallels with the Elegance of Matcha

If you've noticed the similarities between the shading techniques used for Gyokuro and the renowned Tencha (material for Matcha production), your observations are correct. Both teas share commonalities in growth and harvesting practices. However, Gyokuro leaves retain their integrity, allowing for a mesmerizing fragrance and a luxuriously thick, almost oil-like texture when steeped. It truly represents the pinnacle of tea indulgence.


Mastering the Art of Brewing Gyokuro

To fully appreciate the essence of Gyokuro, the traditional brewing method calls for a higher leaf-to-water ratio and cooler temperatures, enabling an extended infusion time. This approach extracts a concentrated elixir of exceptional depth and sweetness. This precise brewing method awakens the tea's inherent sweetness, elevates its sublime umami qualities, and preserves its delicate balance, ensuring a restrained bitterness.




Mastering the Craft

An In-Depth Exploration of the Preparation Process


Step into the captivating realm of Japanese green tea and embark on a journey of indulgence with the refined delight of Gyokuro. Whether you have encountered its unique flavours in Japan or at a local tearoom, Gyokuro has the power to forever transform your perception of green tea, offering an exquisite refreshment that will tantalize your taste buds.


Refining the Challenges in Brewing Gyokuro

To fully appreciate the sublime character of Gyokuro tea, certain crucial elements demand your attention. Embrace these challenges, for they pave the way to a sweeter reward.


Selecting High-Quality Gyokuro Tea

The paramount importance of premium Gyokuro leaves cannot be overstated. Without them, achieving a truly satisfying brew becomes unlikely. In the vast landscape of online tea brands, it is crucial to source your Gyokuro tea from reputable and transparent Japanese tea retailers and farms. Look for those who provide detailed information about the tea's origin, cultivar, cultivation methods, and quality grading. This ensures a truly gratifying experience and guarantees the highest quality Gyokuro leaves.


Embrace a Methodical Approach

By understanding and practicing the almost ritualistic steps outlined below, you can unlock the tea's exceptional flavour profile and elevate your brewing skills.


Choosing an Appropriate Gyokuro Tea Set

Acquire the Appropriate Tea Set. Utilizing the right-sized teapot and teacups can alleviate difficulties during the preparation and serving of Gyokuro tea. 

While there are no strict rules regarding the teapot and teacups for Gyokuro tea, using the right tea ware can enhance the flavour and the overall experience. Consider these distinctive features of a Gyokuro tea set:

  • Hohin or Shiboridashi: These special teapots, designed specifically for brewing Gyokuro and high-grade Sencha, lack handles and require you to hold them in your hand. They function not only as teapots but also as thermometers, as you can gauge the optimal water temperature by comfortably holding them without burning your hand.
  • Yuzamashi: Resembling a Japanese teapot without a lid, the Yuzamashi plays a distinct role in brewing Gyokuro tea. It aids in regulating the water temperature for optimal flavour, colour, and aroma, acting as a water cooler.
  • Gyokuro Teacups: Smaller in size compared to regular teacups, Gyokuro teacups are specifically designed to measure the required amount of hot water for the initial brewing process. They are also effective in lowering the water temperature.


Do not be discouraged by the perceived complexity of the brewing method, for with practice, they will seamlessly integrate into your routine, becoming a cherished second nature. This guide will navigate you through the fundamental elements that contribute to elevating your brewing experience.




Refining your Brewing Technique


Prepare the Right Tools

Brewing an excellent Gyokuro requires the proper equipment. Ensure you have the following utensils on hand: 

  • Yunomi (small teacup) or small Chawan (tea bowl)
  • Houhin or Shiboridashi (special teapot for brewing Gyokuro) or small Kyusu (teapot)
  • Yuzamashi (Water Cooler) or another bowl
  • Gyokuro – High-grade recommended
  • Hot water - soft or filtered water recommended
  • Timer



For optimal brewing, it is recommended to use approximately 5 grams of Gyokuro tea leaves per person, which is roughly equivalent to one tablespoon. Feel free to experiment and adjust the amount of Gyokuro to find your preferred strength.

The water-to-tea ratio should be significantly smaller, with only 50ml of water per person used during the brewing process. Look at the example below:


Gyokuro Brewing Formula: Serves 2 people

  • Tea leaf weight: 10g
  • Water volume: 100cc
  • Water temperature: 40-50°C
  • Steeping time: 120 seconds


Cooling the Heated Water

Cool the heated water to approximately 40-50°C (104-122°F).

Water temperature plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect cup of Gyokuro tea. This lower temperature helps extract the amino acids responsible for the tea's umami flavour while preventing the extraction of catechins, which contribute to bitterness. Japan's traditional tea-drinking culture offers two well-established methods for cooling water to the desired temperature:


  • Cooling Water with a Yuzamashi:
  1. Pour the just-boiled water into the Teapot, then from the teapot into the Yuzamashi, and then pour evenly among the teacups.
  2. Pour the water from each teacup back into the Yuzamashi and wait until the temperature drops to around 40°C-50°C.
  3. Finally, pour the cooled water from Yuzamashi back into the teapot, which now contains the Gyokuro tea leaves.


  • Cooling Water without a Yuzamashi:
  1. Transfer the boiling water from the kettle to the teapot.
  2. Pour the water from the teapot into the cups.
  3. Pour the water back from the cups into the teapot.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, allowing the temperature to drop gradually.
  5. Finally, pour the cooled water from the cups back into the teapot, which now contains the Gyokuro tea leaves.


    By repeating the process of pouring the water between the teapot, Yuzamashi and cups, the temperature should drop by approximately 10°C with each transfer.


    Brewing Gyokuro

    First Brew – Serves 1 person

    • Tea leaf weight: 5g
    • Water volume: 50cc
    • Water temperature: 40-50°C
    • Steeping time: 120 seconds


    1. Add the Gyokuro tea leaves to the teapot, using approximately 5 grams.
    2. Gently pour the now cooled down heated water (40-50°C) over the tea leaves.
    3. Allow the leaves to steep for 2 minutes. Avoid unnecessary movement of the teapot, as it can affect the taste and flavour of the tea.
    4. Gently pour the tea into the  teacup until the last drop and enjoy.


    When serving multiple guests: The "Mawashisogi" Pouring Method

    To maintain the richness and concentration of the tea, employ the "Mawashisogi" pouring method. Fill each teacup in succession, in an alternating manner, going back and forth, distributing it evenly among the teacups, rather than filling them one by one, this ensures a consistent taste for each cup of Gyokuro.

    The key when you serve Gyokuro to several people is to keep the richness of the tea to be the same. As you pour, the tea naturally becomes richer, with the tea at the bottom of the teapot being more concentrated and flavorful than the tea on the surface. In order to keep this even, the tea is poured in the following order.

    If there are 3 cups, firstly, pour halfway in the order of 1 – 2 – 3. Subsequently, pour again in the reverse order of 3 – 2 – 1. In the case of 4 cups, repeat the same process 1 – 2 – 3 – 4, then 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. Pour the tea until the last drop to capture the concentrated flavour, in the case of multiple servings each cup should get at least one or two last dropsThe last drops are infused with a more concentrated flavour. This also ensures the second infusion remains delicious. If tea remains in the teapot, the second infusion may not be as enjoyable. You may notice a smaller quantity of liquid in the teacups compared to the amount poured when cooling the just-boiled water. This is because during the steeping process, the tea leaves absorb approximately 15 percent of the water in the teapot. This becomes less noticeable in subsequent brewings, as the tea leaves are already hydrated. 


    Savouring Gyokuro Tea

    Take small sips of Gyokuro tea, allowing it to roll on your tongue. Appreciate its refined flavours, subtle sweetness, umami undertones, and refreshing finish. Pay attention to the enchanting Umami and aroma of "Ooi-ka". Gyokuro tea is meant to be savoured slowly, offering a truly immersive experience.


    Enjoying Gyokuro Tea Beyond the First Brew

    Similar to Sencha, Gyokuro can be enjoyed through multiple steepings using the same leaves, in some instances, Gyokuro can be steeped up to five times . For the second and third servings, use the following formulas:


    Second Brew

    • Tea leaf weight: N/A
    • Water volume: 100cc
    • Water temperature: 50°C
    • Steeping time: 60 seconds


    Third Brew 

    • Tea leaf weight: N/A
    • Water volume: 100cc
    • Water temperature: 60°C
    • Steeping time: 120 seconds


    Remember that these guidelines are general recommendations, and personal preferences may vary. Feel free to experiment and adjust the brewing parameters to find your perfect cup of Gyokuro tea.


    A Sublime Farewell to the Leaves: Enjoy Gyokuro Beyond Brewing 

    After completing your brewing journey and enjoyment, Gyokuro leaves still possess enchanting sweetness. Experience their infusion multiple times before bidding them farewell. Honour them with a customary Japanese treatment by combining them with a few drops of soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. Gently coat them with toasted sesame seeds and serve this vibrant ensemble over rice or incorporate them into scrambled eggs, savouring a truly unique and verdant green tea-infused snack.




    Exploring Alternative Methods of Brewing Gyokuro


    Discover the Delight of Kouridashi for Iced Gyokuro

    Gyokuro, renowned for its exceptional qualities, can be enjoyed in more than just its traditional hot form. Embrace the refreshing bliss of iced Gyokuro with the Kouridashi brewing method, a delightful surprise for your taste buds.


    Why Choose Iced Gyokuro?

    Brewing Gyokuro with cold water offers numerous advantages over traditional brewing methods. By steeping the tea in cold water over an extended period, you can create a wonderfully refreshing cup of iced tea that is less bitter and astringent.

    When you brew tea using hot water, it tends to extract a higher percentage of bitter tannins, catechins, and other compounds, potentially resulting in a more astringent brew. Cold brewing, on the other hand, allows for a slower infusion process, minimizing the extraction of these compounds and yielding a smoother and sweeter taste.


    To prepare your ice-brewed Gyokuro, simply follow these steps: 

    1. Measure out your tea: Use a ratio of 1 gram of tea to 30 millilitres of water. However, feel free to experiment with the strength of the tea according to your preference. For a standard 120 millilitre cup, use roughly 4 grams of tea.
    2. Choose a suitable brewing vessel: A standard kyusu with a built-in strainer works well for this method.
    3. Measure your ice: Weigh out 120 millilitres of ice, preferably using filtered water and avoiding any freezer odours. Larger ice cubes are recommended.
    4. Brew: Place the ice directly on top of the tea in the brewing vessel. Let it sit in a safe spot and allow the ice to slowly melt over the tea.
    5. Enjoy: Once the ice has completely melted, which can take up to three hours, strain the tea into a cup and savour the refreshing flavours.


    Moreover, ice brewing allows you to prepare larger batches of Gyokuro for convenient consumption throughout the day. For a larger batch, follow the same ratio using a larger pitcher and let it slowly melt in the refrigerator overnight. Strain it in the morning and share the delightful beverage with your family and friends.


    Ice brewing offers a unique and enjoyable way to experience the flavours of Gyokuro without, resulting in a delightful and refreshing beverage that will leave you wanting more.