Tea Reviews

A Cup of Calm: An Organic Gyokuro From Kirishima, Kagoshima

In a recent video shoot, some members of our staff had the chance to revisit our 2023 Organic Gyokuro. Over all, the 2023 Organic Gyokuro delivers a smooth drinking experience.

Tasting Experience

It offers a relaxed, open body feel and has an unchallenging taste. The texture of it is also quite smooth, feeling almost like oil when it is drank. The flavor might remind one of the slightly sweet, rounded taste of cooked animal fat. It does not really have the strong nori taste that you might be looking for when tasting gyokuro. It has less of a nori taste and is more reminiscent of what one could describe as soft, autumn grass; there is a delicate grassy smell but it is as if it has matured or has been somewhat muted by the shading process and by time.

The 2023 Organic Gyokuro is actually from Kirishima, Kagoshima. Kagoshima is located basically at the southern most point of Japan, providing the tea with a warm, more moist climate. This is great for producing tea. Kagoshima is known to produce tea that is sweet and subtle. The Kagoshima area is known to have soil that has been enriched with volcanic ash which greatly affects the flavor. Our parent company is based in Shizuoka but we definitely will source delicious tea from all over Japan and Kagoshima is not the exception.

A Short History of Gyokuro

Gyokuro was invented in 1835 by Yamamoto Kahei, who was a tea merchant from Tokyo. Before him, the art of shading tea is said to discovered by tea producers in Uji, Kyoto, in the early 16th century. This “shaded” tea was somewhat of an accidental discovery.

Farmers were trying to prevent their tea leaves from frost damage and used grass coverings to do so. While it might have protected the tea from frost damage, it also gave the tea a sweeter taste and stronger umami profile.

This flavor of tea was much appreciated by the upper echelons of Japanese society, so much so that the term “tea master” (茶師, chashi) came to refer specifically to the official tea masters (御用茶師, goyō chashi) of Uji, Kyoto as decreed by Tokugawa Shogunate. Uji tea masters did not sell their tea to the common people and dealt exclusively with the Tokugawa Shogunate. Uji tea masters had an monopoly over matcha and gyokuro production.

Conclusion

During the Meiji Restoration, this monopoly was done away with. Gyokuro (as well as matcha) was allowed to be produced in other parts of Japan. Back to the present day, we are happy to continue our search across Japan for quality gyokuro. What is nice about tea is the way is connects different aspects of our own life, the way it connects our community, and the way it connects us to our society as a whole. We hope that you’ll give this one a try.

Our 2024 Organic Gyokuro will be produced in Hinata, Shizuoka and might have a different profile that the Kagoshima tea. The 2024 Organic Gyokuro shouldn’t taste too different than the 2023. Still, it might be worth it to compare these two to see if you can parse out any differences. Feel free to follow our instagram and tiktok for more content. Also, you can subscribe to our newsletter by entering your email address at the bottom of any page on our website.