Special Offer: Ippodo Tokusen Gyokuro 2020

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bentz98125
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Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:12 pm

Can anyone explain why 160 degrees works for them? With sencha, sure, but with flavor so smoothe and rich at 140, I can't imagine going higer. I've been down to 120 and loved it. So, 160?
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Victoria
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Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:25 pm

@bentz98125 a friend even goes cooler, steeping Tokusen at 10g/2oz/108F/2min, 10sec, 10sec, 20sec. Those very short steeps though are too light for moi 🌞🍃 once I find a good steeping temperature I’ll increase it after the third steep by 5° or so. I find 140f or cooler works well with this gyokuro.
OhThatNinja
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Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:18 pm

polezaivsani wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:01 am
i've learned that it's available for preorder from their US store at https://ippodotea.com/collections/gyoku ... rrency=USD.
So the preorder on their website is for exactly the same tea as was ordered through this SO?
Last edited by Victoria on Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Mod edit: cleaned up quote
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Victoria
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Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:16 pm

OhThatNinja wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:18 pm
polezaivsani wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:01 am
i've learned that it's available for preorder from their US store at https://ippodotea.com/collections/gyoku ... rrency=USD.
So the preorder on their website is for exactly the same tea as was ordered through this SO?
Yes, it is the same Tokusen (special) gyokuro. This is the first time Ippodo has offered this Kyoto only gyokuro outside of our Special Offers.
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bentz98125
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Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:28 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:25 pm
bentz98125 a friend even goes cooler, steeping Tokusen at 10g/2oz/108F/2min, 10sec, 10sec, 20sec. Those very short steeps though are too light for moi 🌞🍃 once I find a good steeping temperature I’ll increase it after the third steep by 5° or so. I find 140f or cooler works well with this gyokuro.
Thanks. That's evidence- not conclusive, but I'll take all I can get- that I'm not crazy. Sounds like higher than 150 degrees is a bridge too far. It'll be fun to try 110, but it sounds a little too low for me too.
OhThatNinja
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Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:25 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:16 pm
OhThatNinja wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:18 pm
polezaivsani wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:01 am
i've learned that it's available for preorder from their US store at https://ippodotea.com/collections/gyoku ... rrency=USD.
So the preorder on their website is for exactly the same tea as was ordered through this SO?
Yes, it is the same Tokusen (special) gyokuro. This is the first time Ippodo has offered this Kyoto only gyokuro outside of our Special Offers.
Good to know. I'm going to preorder it from them since I missed this forum offering. With 10 g per serving, that's only three servings. Hmm...
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Victoria
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Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:05 pm

Yumm, I’m sipping on Tokusen’s fourth infusion left to steep overnight, it is so rich. Continuing with 10g/80ml/140f/90sec, 70, 3min, overnight, in Gyokuren reduction sesame filter kyusu.. Followed up with last years Sinensis Yokkaichi gyokuro that I refrigerated. They complement each other nicely. 7g/70ml/108f/2.30min in Jozan III 80ml shigaraki.
faj
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Fri Aug 07, 2020 4:45 pm

bentz98125 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:12 pm
Can anyone explain why 160 degrees works for them?
I have two general ways to infuse gyokuro.

The first one is quite typical, about 4g/100ml, 60C (140F), 90s for the first infusion. With Ippodo's gyokuro, I will try it lower, I have a feeling it could result in a balance I prefer.

The second one is the result of an error I made : I had two visually similar bags, and though I intended to infuse an asamushi sencha, I ended up steeping a gyokuro at 75C for 30 seconds, 4g/100ml. It produced a superb result for several infusions, and was an eye opener for me. It is a very different experience, not just "less concentrated gyokuro". To me, I see it as competing with sencha, not with gyokuro infused in the more typical way.

Since stumbling upon this other way of steeping gyokuro, I have seriously considered reducing my sencha consumption to buy more gyokuro, alternating between the two styles.
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pedant
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Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:14 pm

hi everyone,

i hope you've been enjoying the tea.

i spoke some more with Ippodo via email and thought i'd share some interesting info from Mr. Snow who I met in Kyoto a few years ago.
Mr. Snow @ Ippodo wrote: Thank you for the questions. And, thank being part of the TeaForum community, sharing your passion for tea with many others!

Is it true that you recommend flash steeps for the 2nd and 3rd brews?

I can see how the explanation was confusing. Simply, for all of our loose leaf teas, for the 2nd brew and 3rd brew we recommend brewing for zero seconds. In other words, we pour the water into the kyusu for the second brew, close the lid, and then pour the tea out right away without waiting. For our tea at least, since the leaves have already opened partially from the first brew, they will give their essence to the water immediately when we add more water to the kyusu. (Make sure that you pour out every last drop of tea for each brew, leaving no liquid in the pot, and just the tea leaves. That way the tea leaves will be ready for the next brew.) There may be other brewing preferences out there, but this is what we recommend.

By the way, if you choose to brew this tea past the officially recommended 3rd brew (as described in the brewing suggestions we shared with Mr. Glass), then you might try brewing for longer and longer each time, and/ or increasing the water temperature a little bit each time. Personally I am a little rough when I brew the 4th and additional brews, so I don’t time or take the water temperature or anything. I just taste each brew and mentally adjust as I go! Please try this out and write back to me if you have any comments about the tea or brewing method.

How long is Tokusen Gyokuro aged for?

Thank you for the question about the aging of the gyokuro. In Japanese, this aging process is called jukusei—I sometimes call it “maturation” in English. Yes, gyokuro does go through this aging process, as you know, to calm down or relax its character. And, as you commented, the aging period is at least six months. Our Premium Select Gyokuro release this year is made completely from tea harvested in May 2019, in Kyoto (Uji). The maturation of this tea is finished in around 6 months after the harvest. After this, it is in a ready-to-release state, and it is kept in freshness-ensuring conditions. But there is another piece to the puzzle of why this tea is released now!

Even though tea is harvested only once per year, we have a release calendar that is very seasonal, and based on the preferences of our president & master blender, who is part of the family who have owned and run Ippodo since the beginning. For example, you might know our New Year’s Matcha which we release every year from December to late January. This tea is released specially at this time because there is an important tea ceremony in January. And, many people in Japan (including our president and his family) like to enjoy a special matcha tea time when gathering with family for the New Year’s holiday (Shogatsu).

So, just like the New Year’s matcha release, we chose the release timing of this tea to fit the season. By this time every year we are in the hot sticky days of summer here in Kyoto. We release the Premium Select Gyokuro now because in this season want a lush tea good for cold brewing and sipping slowly, to relax on a hot afternoon. This tea is our top option right now for a truly special teatime, during this tiring season!

Of course, you can brew this tea as the standard warm brew, too, if you prefer, as described above.

So, with the benefit of excellent modern storage methods, we also have the ability to release our teas when the time is just-right, seasonally or culturally.
Mr. Snow also commented on my brew parameters i had tried:
  • 10g @ 140°F (60°C) for 90s in a preheated 140mL kyusu
  • 90s, 90s, 3min, 6min, 15min, 3.5h, overnight
  • increased to 150°F (66°C) for the 4th steep and beyond
  • for each steep, I used just enough water to cover the leaf. In earlier steeps, this occupied about 80mL, but after a couple of steeps, it eventually filled the 140mL pot.
Mr. Snow @ Ippodo wrote: I checked your brewing variables, and looked at our previous messages. And, I enjoyed seeing your kyusu, cup, and tea setup in the picture. Overall, everything looks great! I have a just few additional comments.

Preheat the kyusu or not?
  • We tend to not preheat the kyusu for any of our loose-leaf teas. The kyusu will cool the water down a little as you brew, and the result in my experience is a gyokuro is a tea with a rounder sweetness.
  • Some people like to preheat the kyusu. This is also all right! The benefit of preheating the kyusu, is that you can experience an amazing aroma when you add the dry tea leaves to a warmed kyusu. But when I brew this way, I usually get less of the round sweetness in the taste.
Changing water amount in successive brews?
  • As you say, the leaves expand, leaving less and less room for water in the pot. So, if you have a kyusu that can hold 140ml or more, we recommend not filling the whole kyusu with water on the first brew (so brew just like you have been, just covering the leaves). After the 3rd brew, the leaves should be fully open (all the leaves have a flat shape in the pot, and no twists left). So, the same amount of water should visibly fill the teapot more than the first brew.
  • All of this is because we like to use a wide-body kyusu and brew with the leaves directly in the water. This allows the leaves plenty of room to expand, which is what we want! (This is also already how you have been brewing the tea, so no problem here!)
For reference, I will try to write my suggested brewing instructions for the Premium Select Gyokuro using your memo format. I don’t have any times for the 4th brew +, but you can generally keep brewing the leaves and keep getting sweetness out of them until they appear completely flat or unraveled in the kyusu. Or, if you enjoy the character of the tea, keep brewing and drinking as much as you like.

Premium Select Gyokuro- tailored recipe (1-3 servings/brew)
  • 10g @ 104°F (40°C) for 90s in an unheated (small, wide) kyusu
  • 90s, 0s, 0s, . . .
  • increased to 150°F (66°C) + for the 4th steep and beyond
  • Use roughly 80 ml for every brew.
I hope you and the forum members enjoy this tea. And, I hope we can continue to help you enjoy some wonderful tea experiences in the future!
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Bok
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Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:11 pm

Thanks for this, very interesting! Most intriguing that they opt to release tea when they think it should be consumed, not when it’s finished processing.
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Victoria
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Sat Aug 08, 2020 7:12 pm

The spent Gyokuro leaves tasted so good I decided to use them in a salad. Added Carrots, Red Onion, Red Cabbage, and a dressing of Roasted Sesame Oil, Rice Vinegar, Tamari, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. A tasty salad in small doses. The red cabbage brings a nice bitterness to the salad but dominates the more subtle tea leaves. Next time I'll try letting the sweet Gyokuro leaves dominate. Anyone else using their spent gyokuro leaves?

Gyokuro Salad w Sesame Oil Rice Vinegar Tamari Worcestershire Tabasco_DSC1697_sm.jpg
Gyokuro Salad w Sesame Oil Rice Vinegar Tamari Worcestershire Tabasco_DSC1697_sm.jpg (485.93 KiB) Viewed 1104 times
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debunix
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Sat Aug 08, 2020 7:58 pm

I have tossed them in soups on occasion, but it's tricky to keep saving little tiny portions for a later preparation when I cook a lot at one time, and not so often.
OhThatNinja
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Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:08 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 7:12 pm
The spent Gyokuro leaves tasted so good I decided to use them in a salad. Added Carrots, Red Onion, Red Cabbage, and a dressing of Roasted Sesame Oil, Rice Vinegar, Tamari, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. A tasty salad in small doses. The red cabbage brings a nice bitterness to the salad but dominates the more subtle tea leaves. Next time I'll try letting the sweet Gyokuro leaves dominate. Anyone else using their spent gyokuro leaves?


Image
Wow, Victoria. That looks so delicious!
Great photo too!
Jeanbb
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Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:51 am

Victoria wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 7:12 pm
The spent Gyokuro leaves tasted so good I decided to use them in a salad. Added Carrots, Red Onion, Red Cabbage, and a dressing of Roasted Sesame Oil, Rice Vinegar, Tamari, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. A tasty salad in small doses. The red cabbage brings a nice bitterness to the salad but dominates the more subtle tea leaves. Next time I'll try letting the sweet Gyokuro leaves dominate. Anyone else using their spent gyokuro leaves?


Image
Wow, I always wondered if anyone had done this in general with any specific tea leaves as a cooking ingredient, especially particularly rich green teas. Will try this.
faj
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Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:50 pm

I had a second session for which I went closer to the parameters recommended above by Mr. Snow above as posted by @pedant. Still using a Hokujo shiboridashi with a usable capacity around 40ml, with 5g of leaves. I did not preheat this time.

First infusion, about 45C, 90s. Less strong umami than my first session's first steep (still strong, mind you), I would say more balanced. Delicate, deep, very pleasant. I think going longer would have yielded something more intense and spectacular (though still balanced) and would make sense if going for the best first infusion possible. If I were to go lower in temperature, I would increase duration.

Then I went with very short infusions as suggested, which is not what I usually do with gyokuro. It was a nice change. I often find gyokuro infusions 2 to 4 lack balance, preferring the next few where I get delicate yet very clear and distinct aromatics I really like, but here the lighter infusions were a success, with a smoother transition. I will for sure try that with other gyokuros.

Overall a better session than the first one.

I cannot help feeling this is kind of a "reference gyokuro" : it is deep and powerful, it fulfills all the archetypal expectations I have formed after having tried several gyokuros. It does not disappoint in any way, there is nothing missing, yet it does not surprise in any way either. Leaving aside the price for a minute, it feels like a "daily drinker" in a twisted kind of way. It is very good, but it does not feel especially unique. It is not an oddity. It is a gyokuro I could have every day, not the kind of tea you get a kick out of drinking once in a blue moon but would end up being fed up with if it were to become a daily thing.
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