There are some teas that make the world slow down around you as your taste buds try to process the flurry of excitement after just one sip. As you brace yourself for the second taste, you passionately focus all your senses as you lift the tea cup to your lips. For me, that tea was Ippodo's Kakurei Gyorkuo Green Tea. To pause for a second, let me just note that Ippodo is my go-to source for Japanese Green tea, as they have been crafting the highest quality Japanese green teas for nearly 3 centuries. While you can purchase teas in their online shop, I highly recommend that you visit their peaceful store in New York City (their only retail store outside of Japan). Or if you are in my City of Brotherly Love, you can purchase a selection of their teas at Rikumo.
As I stumbled back in pure glee, I was lost in the savory nature of this gyokuro. Known for their notes of umami, this particular gyokuro was briny and meaty. The elements of oceanic seaweed tangled with meaty tastes of porcini mushrooms. The full-bodied, smooth sip had a mouth-feel that was rather brothy and reminded me of an intense stock (think miso dashi). Only ever so slightly astringent, the taste washed over my tongue as it was gently dried to reveal an ever so subtle sweet finish (think underripe stonefruit).
Do note that the steeping method suggested is 10 grams (about 2 heaping tablespoons) per 80-120ml of water that was boiled and cooled to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Steep the tea leaves for 1 minute and 30 seconds without agitating the tea pot and leaves. Considering that this is a rather special experience, be sure to steep the leaves for a second and third time (note that once the water is added for the subsequent steeps, immediately strain the tea rather than letting it steep, as the leaves have been awakened and flavor will be immediately present). And due to its delicate nature of only being steamed, be sure to steep all of the leaves within 2 weeks once the package is opened to experience the most fresh and flavorful tastes.
Do tell me, which teas have sent you swooning and left you speechless?