All other gyokuro is shaded with a black netting – either directly on top of and touching the plants, or draped over a tent-like structure on metal poles that you can walk under: The same structure for HON gyokuro, just without the straw.

The hand-woven straw mats are used in conjunction with the black netting in most cases, where the straw mats are on top of the tent and the nets are underneath so they can be rolled up to expose just the straw mats and allow a little sunlight to reach the leaves. Think of this black netting as sunscreen.

The straw mat method is now so rare in Japan that only a handful of farmers still make them because of the labor intensity, coupled with the fact that farmers are now reaching ages of 80 to 90 years of age – or more!!

If you have ever studied the cultivation of gyokuro and compared it to sencha, you know that the big difference is this shading. But did you know that the farmers watch the leaves every day to check the speed of growth? They will manipulate this speed by uncovering and re-covering the plants. This is why the black nets under the straw mats are so handy – because they can easily roll up underneath the tent structure when need dictates.

For this reason, you can’t say that gyokuro is shaded for exactly a month or that kabusecha is shaded for exactly two weeks. That is a goal post, a generalization. It all depends on how the plants are growing during the season…how much rain, clouds, or if the sun is out to play. 

Gyokuro is not meant to be served like a Big Gulp from Seven Eleven! Think small. You will want to honor this tea. Pour in a fancy wine glass or a special teacup and enjoy! 

Because gyokuro is a delicacy, you don’t want to miss eating the leaves after brewing it. Just dress them with citrusy soy sauce (ponzu), yogurt, or your favorite salad dressing.

Method 1:

  1. In a coffee filter, put 6g of your best tea (I suggest Chiki Tea’s Tengoku Hon Gyokuro) 
  2. Add 200g ice cubes, or enough to completely fill the filter without falling out
  3. Leave it to melt at room temperature
  4. Makes a small but exquisite cup
  5. Eat the leaves!

Method 2:

  1. In a jug or medium sized teapot, ADD 12-15g of your best gyokuro
  2. Fill the jug with 400g of ice cubes
  3. Leave it to melt at room temperature
  4. Swirl the container to mix
  5. Strain the entire brew into a tall glass or little by little into two wine glasses.
  6. Eat the leaves!

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