Learning To Appreciate Maiko Tea's Gyokuro

Just a week after our trip to Osaka (for dunno how many times go already), I attended a Japanese tea making class at Iloha Art and Culture located in Jalan Telawi 2 Bangsar.

I drink tea and enjoyed Japanese tea too (the common ones la, like sencha, genmaicha and mugicha) so I thought a chance to learn the art of a more refined tea drinking would be fun.
Photo from Maiko Tea website
The Japanese tea making session was organised by Maiko Tea, an award winning brand from Kyotanabe, Kyoto Japan; known throughout Japan as the capital of high-grade Gyokuro.
Around 20 bloggers and representative from magazines (Japanese and Malaysian) attended the session and we were guided by tea master, Toshiya Nakabo.
We first learn about the different types of tea, shown here are: Sencha, Matcha, Shiawase, Kangane, Hojicha, Genmaicha, Gyokuro and Tencha.

Some are familiar to me, some aren't and Nakabo-san let us feel and smell all the different types of tea to see their differences.

Most important, I learn about the high quality Gyokuro tea and was able to drink it. *shiawase* Oh by the way, Maiko Tea also has a tea called Shiawase tea which means Happiness Tea.
Gyokuro is the highest grade of Japanese tea available, and is characterized by a fine green colour, rich aroma, and mellow, sweet flavour. We learn that the tea plants are grown in "ooishita en" (covered) fields that are shaded from mid-April until harvest time.

Once the buds are ready and picked, they are steamed, dried, and kneaded.

Even for Gyokuro tea, there are many types of Gyokuro and the exceptionally high quality is grown at the tea gardens surrounding the residence of MaikoTea's renowned tea expert Yamashita Toshikazu. He has even shown the "Teamaster Temomi" skill to Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

So, when I learn that we will first be taught how to make Gyokuro tea (we also learn how to make matcha later), I was pretty excited. Drinking high grade tea is not something I get to do often. And I mean, high grade.
The utensils needed for tea making.

Why are there small plates, you wonder? I wondered too, until I learn why. ^^

What we have here are:
1. Tea (in the red casing) of about 8gm
2. 4 teacups
3. Kyusu (teapot)
4. Yuzumashi ( that sampan like thing used to cool off boiling water)
5. Plates
First, we pour boiling water into the yuzumashi (as you probably can guess, the amount of water is not that much). The water will cool off slightly and to further let it cool, we pout the water from the yuzumashi into the teapot.
Then, from the teapot into the all the teacups equally. The water which has now cooled significantly, was poured back into the yuzumashi.

Remember the steps, or not? ;-)
Then, we put the Gyokuro tea leaves into the teapot and we pour the water that had been cooled into the teapot. The amount of water should be just enough to cover the tea leaves.

Yup, just a little bit only.

Put the teapot lid on, and wait for a while.
Then, pour a little into each of the teacups, making 1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1 motion and make sure even the last drop is poured. The leaves in the teapot should be as dry as possible.
And, we get our tea. Gyokuro is best enjoyed by sipping slowly and I took slow sips and let it rest on my tongue and enjoyed the unique taste as it spreads through my whole mouth.
The tea can be re-infused up to five times, I was told. The taste of the tea of course changed a bit as we infused it the second or the third time.
After drinking the Gyokuro tea, we could also enjoy eating the tea leaves, It has a nice mellow taste to me and it also can be eaten as is or with a dash of soy sauce.

The session is indeed a new learning experience to me and I enjoyed it a lot. I also learn to appreciate finer teas and Gyokuro Tea is a tea for special occasions or guests.

More about the tea can be found at their English language website - link here.  You can shop for their tea there too!

Or you can buy them at Iloha!

Next, I will share about the preparation of Matcha. That was quite fun too.

Comments

  1. What a lucky lady and you were invited to attend & get pampered like an Empress in this fabulous tea making session! I am a great fan of tea and read your every lines carefully. I realised I only know Matcha and Shiawase. I am so surprised that one could even eat the used tea leaves!!! This is logic and makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anay,
      Bila mau ajak I minum shiawase tea and share your happiness? Hehehe

      Delete
  2. I find green tea very refreshing but I am blur on all the different varieties. Good ya, can also eat the tea leaves :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was told not all tea leaves can be eaten but this one so mahal, rugi tak eat. Lol

      Delete

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