Inaugural Group Tasting: Sinensis Yokkaichi & Ippodo Tokusen Gyokuro

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Victoria
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Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:53 pm

So pleased that we are all participating in TeaForum’s Inaugural Group Tasting. There is always a first and this is it! Both Gyokuro presented are from limited select editions, not typically available outside their production areas. Some of you are participating in both tastings, some in just one. By sharing our impressions here we can all virtually enjoy this tasting, and say thank you to Ippodo and Sinensis.
  • Ippodo Tokusen Gyokuro, Premium grade and only sold at Kyoto Main Store, once per year in the fall. They have generously shared this with us as a special event.
  • Sinensis Yokkaichi Gyokuro, Premium grade with only 5 kilos (out of 10k produced) sold outside Mie. Awards; Gold Medal at the World Tea Awards, and 5th place in a Japanese competition. Salvador Sosa (Sinensis director) in partnership with distributor Hidenori Moriguchi of Mite Co. located in Mie, made this Gyokuro available. It is produced by Koshi Hagimura owner of Hagimura Seicha in Yokkaichi very close to Suzuka. Sae Midori cultivar.

Important Notes:
  1. After receiving your teas wait 1 day before opening packets, this is to let tea get to room temperature and avoid degradation. After 1 day open packet, re-seal with a bag clip or sim and wait +-12hr before using tea. This allows the needles to breath a little before steeping.
  2. I highly recommended getting vendor temperatures and ratios correct before tweaking to your palate. For those that don’t drink Japanese greens every day it is advisable to use a thermometer, scale, timer, and balanced water -not too alkaline or too low TDS.
  3. Preheating kyusu (pot) before steeping, brings out dry leaf aroma nicely, and holds steeping temperature better.
  4. Keep packet sealed tightly and away from light. Moisture and oxygen will degrade needles very quickly.
  5. If members follow those steps, everyone should get more consistent results.

Vendor Recommended Steeping (both are perfect):
Ippodo Tokusen Gyokuro
10g/ 80ml (3oz)/ 140F (60c)/ 90sec, 90, 3min, 6, 15, 3.5hrs, overnight

Sinensis Yokkaichi Gyokuro (I’m using 108F)
6g/ 114ml (4oz)/ 104-122F (40-50C)/ 2 min, 2, 4, 10, overnight

Ippodo also likes an additional cooler steeping option;
10g/ 210ml (7oz)/ chilled water/ 15 minutes


Excited to share these high quality gyokuro with you.

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* pedant image

Edit: Added Notes #3 preheating kyusu, #4 seal packet, updated Sinensis Yokkaichi Gyokuro procurement details.
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pedant
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Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:22 pm

thanks for your efforts, @Victoria! i'm really looking forward to comparing the teas and sharing notes.
t-curious
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Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:58 pm

Thanks @Victoria! I received mine in the mail today. :D

Could anyone recommend a brand of bottled water that's "balanced water -not too alkaline or too low TDS?" I'm not sure about that one. I'm in the continental U.S.
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Victoria
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Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:20 pm

t-curious wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:58 pm
Thanks Victoria! I received mine in the mail today. :D

Could anyone recommend a brand of bottled water that's "balanced water -not too alkaline or too low TDS?" I'm not sure about that one. I'm in the continental U.S.
Too alkaline and too low TDS Japanese teas become flat. To hard with very high TDS results may be heavy and salty. I'd start with one of these;
  • Iceland Spring: Nice! Iceland Pure Spring @Walgreens. It is also sold at other stores; V Iceland natural spring @theVitamin Shoppe, Iceland Natural Spring @WholeFoods, Glacier isle @RiteAid
  • Trader Joe’s Artesian New Zealand
  • Crystal Geyser, Alpine Spring (by CG Roxane Blue Ridge Mnts. SC) or (by CG Roxane Olancha, CA)
I’m sure other members have recommendations as well.
Pete
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Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:28 pm

Victoria wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:45 pm
Yay, your packages are on their way to you :) 🍃
Whoohoo, tea mail came today. I look forward to trying them, over the weekend or early next week.
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Bok
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:02 am

I will join the fun as well, need to wait a little longer though, my Tokusen Gyokuru had to take a different route... :mrgreen:
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Shine Magical
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am

After 1 day open packet, re-seal with a bag clip or sim and wait +-12hr before using tea. This allows the needles to breath a little before steeping.


I've never heard of doing this before, but its interesting. I wonder how it applies to other types of tea as well. And does it mean it needs to be drunk more quickly to avoid degradation.
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Bok
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:24 am

Shine Magical wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am
I've never heard of doing this before, but its interesting. I wonder how it applies to other types of tea as well. And does it mean it needs to be drunk more quickly to avoid degradation.
It certainly works as well for high mountain Oolong. Freshly opened is tasting not as nice as the day after, I noticed this a couple of times. Gaoshan, once opened is best consumed in 2-3 weeks max. I imagine that being a lot shorter for Gyokuru.
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Victoria
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:09 pm

Shine Magical wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am
After 1 day open packet, re-seal with a bag clip or sim and wait +-12hr before using tea. This allows the needles to breath a little before steeping.

I've never heard of doing this before, but its interesting. I wonder how it applies to other types of tea as well. And does it mean it needs to be drunk more quickly to avoid degradation.
Yes, an open pack of gyokuro should be finished within the month. The reason to wait 1-2 days before opening is to allow the sealed tea pack to adjust to your ambient temperature, so condensation dew drops don’t form inside pack ruining your leaves. Since you are in NYC, a postal hub, you get teas faster directly from the cold belly of a plane, than others in more remote locations. Waiting an additional 12hrs after opening and resealing, is to let leaves soak up a little air before using.
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:41 pm

Yay, package arrived! Thank you again, Victoria, for putting this all together.
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Chip
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:48 pm

Victoria wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:09 pm
Shine Magical wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am
After 1 day open packet, re-seal with a bag clip or sim and wait +-12hr before using tea. This allows the needles to breath a little before steeping.

I've never heard of doing this before, but its interesting. I wonder how it applies to other types of tea as well. And does it mean it needs to be drunk more quickly to avoid degradation.
Yes, an open pack of gyokuro should be finished within the month. The reason to wait 1-2 days before opening is to allow the sealed tea pack to adjust to your ambient temperature, so condensation dew drops don’t form inside pack ruining your leaves. Since you are in NYC, a postal hub, you get teas faster directly from the cold belly of a plane, than others in more remote locations. Waiting an additional 12hrs after opening and resealing, is to let leaves soak up a little air before using.
I think it is equally important to open the bag and allow the tea to breath in normal air especially if it has been nitrogen flushed. I typically endeavor to open the bag the night before ... resealing it once air has exchanged ... just a minute or so.

Which brings up the question, are these nitrogen flushed? Years ago, Ippodo did not but may have changed.

I do not think it is as critical to nitro flush gyokuro since it is best when aged at least several months.

Sencha on the other hand retains its freshness and intensity generally better when nitro flushed.
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Chip
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:28 pm

If you have not done this, please do!

After you preheat your brewing vessel and pour the water off.
... wait about a minute.

Put your dry leaves into the brew vessel and swirl them around gently ...

Smell the warming leaves!

Wondrous!
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Chip
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:34 pm

To hou or to shib ... that is the question!

Lid on or lid off to brew?

I'll try both shib and houjin for this tasting event. I personally prefer houjin but there is no absolute right answer IMHO.

I typically brew gyokuro lid off as do masters in Japan though I am sure it is not universal.
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Victoria
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:54 pm

Chip wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:34 pm
To hou or to shib ... that is the question!

Lid on or lid off to brew?

I'll try both shib and houjin for this tasting event. I personally prefer houjin but there is no absolute right answer IMHO.

I typically brew gyokuro lid off as do masters in Japan though I am sure it is not universal.
I think for cooler temperature of Sinensis Yokkaichi (104-122F) the lid off could work well, although I keep lid on mostly out of habit. I prefer shiboridashi but will use houhin and kyusu if it has a fine sesame filter and is more horizontal in profile. Although, a wall or ball filter works fine also if pouring carefully with both of these Gyokuro. Glad you got your package today. Super fast shipping for almost everyone! Well except Torino, Italy where @There is no self is. Hope you get your’s soon :) .

Edit Add: actually with both of these Gyokuro all those filters work well because needles are fairly sized, so won’t clog 🍃.
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Victoria
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Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:05 pm

Chip wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:48 pm
Which brings up the question, are these nitrogen flushed? Years ago, Ippodo did not but may have changed.

I do not think it is as critical to nitro flush gyokuro since it is best when aged at least several months.

Sencha on the other hand retains its freshness and intensity generally better when nitro flushed.
I don’t think either Sinensis or Ippodo’s is nitrogen flushed, although not 100% sure, I think just vacuum sealed. I wonder how many Japanese producer/distributors use nitrogen flush besides O-cha?
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