Gyokuro Karigane Premium (100g/3.53oz)


Author Karen Kletter   (United States)
Review Gyokuro Karigane Premium and a Hohryu kyusu (for which I've also written a review) comprised my first order with Hibiki-an. As I stated in my review of the kyusu, it won't be my last.
I'm new to tea (<1 year) and so am very much feeling my way around. I'd tried a karigane that I'd purchased at Whole Foods (a single-cup's worth!) and liked it but was convinced that there must be better quality available; I'd also purchased some kuki-matcha from a well-known, Milwaukee-based online vendor, but that wasn't quite what I was looking for either (I've also come to the conclusion that Kagoshima teas aren't, if you will, my cup of tea--too "in your face" and lacking in nuance). My research for the best, or at least the really wonderful, brought me to Hibiki-an.
My order arrived a mere five days after I placed it. I looked over the included brewing instructions for two cups and decided to play.
I first poured very hot water into my lovely new kyusu to warm it while I heated my brewing water. I weighed out 7 grams (I'll try 8 next time) of tea, which I added to the emptied pot while I waited for the brewing water to cool to 60C(140F) --the lowest suggested temperature). I then brewed my tea for a total of 2 minutes--the lowest suggested time (I allow 20 seconds for decanting when I time). I added 5C (9F) and 30 seconds to each of the subsequent two infusions, which brought me up to the maximum temperature and time recommendations (70C(158F) /3 minutes).
I must state (and please bear in mind my rookie status, although I tend to trust my palate) that all three infusions were astonishing. The first somehow managed to be simultaneously intense and delicate, and I ask that anyone reading this please be forgiving of my lack of proper vocabulary. It was so GREEN, both in color and flavor! Intensely vegetal, sweet yet almost salty--I've never tasted anything quite like it before. The second infusion was more delicate in color and flavor, with greater emphasis on sweetness than on vegetal greenness. The third infusion was the most delicate of all, and yet was still beautiful to see and drink--flavorful and sweet and superior to any first infusion of the other Japanese green teas that I've sampled. I'm reluctant to eat or drink anything else, even several hours later, because that lovely flavor is still lingering and I'm loath to eliminate it. I can state in all sincerity that Hibiki-an Gyokuro Karigane Premium has elevated my appreciation for Japanese tea to another level, and it's not even a pinnacle-grade tea.
As an experiment, I actually ate some of the karigane after the third infusion. The stems were much too chewy to be really edible, but the leaves were delicious and without a trace of bitterness. I can safely state that when I order gyokuro from Hibiki-an, nothing is going to be thrown away!
I have nothing but the highest praise for Hibiki-an. I recommend them without reservation and look forward to a rewarding customer/vendor relationship.
Very bad...Bad...Very bad...Ordinary...Good... 5 of 5 Stars!
Date May 01, 2007

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