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Gyokuro Steeping Technique

Ian Chun |

Remember, these techniques are guidelines meant to start you off. Depending on your own personal taste, the water type you have available, and of course the specific tea leaves, you should learn to adjust the water amount, temperature, tea leaf amount and steep time to achieve your perfect cup of tea.

The gyokuro steeping technique creates a truly syrupy cup of tea and should be used with shaded tea leaves–i.e. gyokuro but is also suitable for any kabusecha or high grade sencha. What you are after is a high concentration of umami flavor.

Flavor: Shaded tea leaves have a higher content of  theanine amino acids, and this technique draws out the theanine exclusively to create a powerfully rich, thick, syrupy cup of tea that is filled with umami, or savoriness. The catechins (which cause shibumi or astringency) in the tea leaves begin coming out at a higher temperature, so be sure to steep it at higher temperatures later to enjoy the shibumi! 

  1. Pour hot water into your cold teapot. As the water warms the teapot, its temperature drops about 10 degrees.
  2. When the teapot feels warm, pour into your cups to the rim warm your cups. Throw out extra water in the tea pot.
  3. After a 2-3 minutes, the hot water in the cup should have cooled but you may want to use another container to cool it further depending on the room temperature. (alternatively you can mix in cold filtered water to lower the temperature)
  4. Place your tea leaves into the teapot.
  5. When the water has cooled to right temperuature, pour into the teapot and steep.
  6. Pour into your cups, and enjoy!

Parameters for yourself

  • Tea leaf amount: 3 grams (about one teaspoon)
  • Water amount: 30-60 cc (or 30-60 ml, 1-2 fluid ounces). The less water, the more concentrated.
  • Water temperature: 40-60C / 100-140F (the higher the temperature, the faster it will steep, but the more bitterness you will extract).
  • Steep time: 2-4 minutes

Parameters for yourself and a guest

  • Serves: Two people. Serve in a small guinomi cups (about 40 ml, like a shot glass) and enjoy slowly.
  • Tea leaf amount: 8 grams (about two teaspoons)
  • Water amount: 80 cc (or 80 ml, 2.7 fluid ounces, 1/3 cup)
  • Water temperature: 40C / 100F
  • Steep time: 2 minutes

    2nd – 4th Steeping

    You now have some used tea leaves. I hate the word “used” because in truth, the leaves after this steeping is now ready for a 2nd standard steeping (steep using hot water, 80-95˚C, for  about 20-30 seconds to enjoy the shibumi or astringency still left in the tea leaves).

    eat your tea leavesAfter the 3rd or 4th standard steeping, you will have removed much of the astringency, and you can then eat the tea leaves! We usually splash a bit of soy sauce or ponzu sauce to create a tea leaf salad, but we’re interested in gathering a few recipes!

    Otanoshimini! Enjoy!