[Limited] Kuradashi Gyokuro Pinnacle (40g/1.41oz) Reviews

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Author Sarah Longo   (United States)
Review I Love the Kuradashi Teas as well as Autumn being my very favorite Season so I couldn't wait for these again in 2013. I was super excited to receive my order but had to wait a few days and put off actually opening the packette until I had aired out an empty silver canister to re-use to store it. I wish we could buy a few extra 30g or 40g silver canisters here, especially if purchasing a refill pack of something like Matcha. But, I could smell the Tea through the pack and it was a very sweet with a sort of subtle spice to it. It kept reminding me of something but I just couldn't remember what. I Loved the Pinnacle the best last year, it was more complex in flavor and withstood more infusions plus I adore the Honzu canopy shaded Teas.

Yesterday morning I woke up very early and decided to open the packette and brew in my lovely Hohin Set with the wave pattern, I Love the textures and feel of that set and especially the tiny little yunomi. It's like a royal elixer sipping Tea from it and I can REALLY savour each sip. Also, Hohin allows for PERFECT brewing to your own best liking! So, I sat and watched the Sun rise since I'd woken up so early. It was so very wonderful and I decided I'd take some notes so I could write a fuller review on all 3 brews.

First Brew- I opened the pack to see the enriched leaves, a beautiful rich and deep green. They do look "aged," but in a great way- they seem to me to be a bit smaller or maybe broken up, and the scent alone was wonderfully earthy but sweet with that subtle spice top note that is almost a sharp sweet note. I used about 1 heaping & 1/2 teaspoon for my Hohin and a VERY low water temperature because I want to REALLY keep the mellow sweetness, maybe about 100F ? I'm not sure and I have no thermometer, I just feel the water and know when it is right, so I apologize but when all is said and done and ready to pour to drink I want the Tea to feel like my body temperature. I feel the lower temperature lets me taste more notes, I definitely did not go over the recommended 130F, and brewed for about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, maybe just a tiny bit more.
The first sip totally hit me and I thought, "OHIGASHI!" THAT was the scent I could not place earlier. This Tea is really very sweet, more sweet than the dry leaves had left me to expect. This Tea has a striking resemblance to Wasanbon/Ohigashi, yes it is sweet like candy enough to me that I thought, "I don't even need or want any of the OHIGASHI & WASANBON CONPIETOH that I really just Love from this site, wow!" That may sound crazy, overly sweet but no worries it is seriously just delicious! I also sensed a very subtle sort of sharper spice top note to the sweetness that really balances it like a fine perfume will have, but I cannot name this scent... maybe a bit like cedar...? I think it is like a "woodspice" experience in aroma and flavor, both.
I then sensed warm vanilla, then a caramel- very smooth and buttery! This "buttery-ness" makes you feel it coat your mouth and really does leave a silky smooth, buttery lingering and mouthwatering aftertaste. A very luxurious Tea! It sort of reminded me of clotted cream- buttery sweet as it mellows out from the higher toned Ohigashi-like sweetness. After the last sip, the empty yunomi smelled so much like high-toned sweet Ohigashi I was really surprised, this Tea is so sweet and great! The leaves in the Hohin after this 1st brew smelled more "earthy yet marine and vegetal" than sweet and once again fools you that this is not a sweet enriched Tea. Maybe try smelling the underside of your Hohin or other brewing vessel lid, it will smell more like what your actual Tea infusion will be like, at least it did for me. I think the hotter leaves' temperature retain the more grounded earthy, marine & vegetal notes of the regular Gyokuro Pinnacle

Second Brew- The Pinnacle Kuradashi had mellowed out and I experienced very prominent "sweet bread/soft cake/inside a bakery" aroma from the Tea infusion itself more so than I had in the 1st steeping. That was incredibly enjoyable to sip! The flavor and mouthfeel were less high-toned sweet and more of the mellow and soft sweet bread and warm sweet butter. As I sipped that I thought about how I'm glad my review from last year is posted to remind me so I can compare and contrast 2012's to 2013's wonderful Kuradashi Teas and I was looking forward to the 3rd infusions because I remember I had consistently enjoyed that brew the most last year, it reminded me in all ways of a sort of lightly floral honey-like nectar, although the infusion was thinner than the first 2 infusions. My last tasting note that jumped out was like warm & sweet brown sugar. The empty yunomi scent was reversed from the 1st brewing- this 2nd brew's cute, tiny, empty yunomi was scented with that high-toned Wasanbon sugar sweet touched by a perfume-like subtle spice as like in the tasting notes of the 1st infusion.

Third Brew- The Tea leaves were fully rehydrated and fanned out looking beautiful as I added the water to the Hohin. I used slightly hotter water but definitely no more than 130F. I again set the timer for 1 minute but sipped (I found this the Perfect way to taste test if your brew is to your Personal Loving & it's SO easy) from the Hohin pouring spout to taste test when 11 seconds were still left. I wanted to be sure of no bitterness AT ALL in this sweet treat of a lovely, awesome Tea! I sipped again after 30 more seconds and decided to wait 30 more seconds so definitely 2full minutes, if not some seconds more total steeping. I decided to pour a yunomi full and about 30-45 seconds later pour the rest (a 2nd yunomi's worth of Tea) into the cooling vessel to allow it to cool to the temperature I most enjoy sipping as this infusion was warmer/hotter than the 1st 2 infusions since I'd used hotter water for the final steep & not how I like to sip this Tea best, which is more so at my body temperature because I experience more notes that way. I let that Tea cool as I sipped the first yunomi.
This 3rd infusion was a color surprise- it was a pretty bright green, sort of like how Sencha and/or Sencha Fukamushi can look. The first infusions were a more dull but translucent like in these pictures HIBIKI-AN has put up. Also, there was only the super fine, most minute, tiniest fibers poured along with the Tea this 3rd infusion since all the small enough pieces had been poured in the first brews.
I was expecting the 3rd brew to be how the 2012's 3rd infusion had been, which was my favorite reminding me of a light and lifted floral honey nectar. But I was in for a different sort of treat this year with a SUPER WARM effect, a mellowed sweetness, buttery clotted cream experience with that touch of brown sugar. I have only had clotted cream once or twice but it is very delicious but very hard to describe. Another person has described it as "a cross between ice-cream and butter" : sweet (it is usually cold or a cooler room temperature, I think) but not super sugar ice-cream sweet and with a buttery sort of "melty-ness" that spreads across your tongue and coats your mouth leaving a pleasant lingering aftertaste just as this Tea does, even on the 3rd thinner infusion. SO difficult to describe! I also noticed the lingering mouthwatering aftertaste included that high toned OHIGASHI subtly spicy note in the back of my throat, and I realized that had been present the entire time but just only noticed it so much some minutes after finishing the last infusion.
The last yunomi had cooled to "room temperature" but I felt it was colder than I liked so out of interest I decided to check the thermostat, it said 68F. It was definitely cooler than "body temperature" when sipping this time but still had that warm butter taste and aroma of smooth buttery caramel along with a lovely smooth mouthfeel very prominent in the last tiny sip of my yunomi. The empty yunomi smelled like what I'd imagine to be the softest bread ever that was bakery sweet fresh and the cooling vessel smelled like what I think Heaven's Bakery would smell like- incredibly sweet, delicious breads, cakes, drizzled with icings and still warm!

I know this review is long but I really Love the Kuradashi enriched Pinnacle Gyokuro (along with the Asahi breed Pinnacle Matcha Kuradashi as well as the even higher grades grown from that breed and blended with no other) so I took notes so I'd remember to be thorough & specific about my EXTREMELY pleasant experience on the couch watching the Autumn Sun rise with my Hohin trying this years Pinnacle Gyokuro Kuradashi for the first Time.
BUT, to get to The Point- this Tea really just needs to be sipped and savoured yourself (especially if you have a special Hohin Set, I think) because it really IS THAT wonderful! :)
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 5 of 5 Stars!

Date October 25, 2013

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Reviews Posted by this Author: 138