Have you ever succumbed to the intoxicating aroma of coffee that lures you into a shop and makes you buy a bag of beans and maybe even some accoutrements to help you make it?

That was me, during the hottest summer on record in Japan. I went to the mall to cool off and Starbucks was brewing!

OH! The beans, the aroma, it all lured me in like an addict. The ice brewing equipment caught my eye and I bought the lot, including a bag of “ice coffee” beans – desperate to cool off. I don’t think I have EVER bought a bag of coffee in my life…but there I was: Desperate.

After just two days, I ditch the beans and returned to my precious leaves. Coffee gave me the jitters, headaches, and took away my passion for everything because I was so tired after drinking it. Green tea never made me feel like that, so I gave the beans to a friend and put the ice brewer on the top shelf. 

That was 2015; but just this week, I got out that dusty glass jug with a wire holder for a coffee filter and put it to use. But not with coffee! NO WAY! I opened the best hon gyokuro from Yame! 

Ice brew takes hours to make and it is soooo worth it! As the ice melts, the leaves slowly release the nutrients, caffeine, and taste into the liquor. The ice brew method is a favorite for folks who want less caffeine because the effect is less when prepared in this method. Everything slowly releases to create balance.

But before I tell you about two ICE BREW methods, let’s take a closer look at Hon Gyokuro!

The first thing to note is that there is regular gyokuro, and then there is HON gyokuro. The difference is in the way the leaves are shaded before harvest. Hon gyokuro involves the laborious task of hand-weaving straw mats that are placed on a metal structure to cover the plants. It makes a straw hut that you can walk under to check on the leaves and monitor the speed of growth. 

Only tea trees shaded with straw are the real deal as far as “authentic” gyokuro goes. Don’t get me wrong – regular gyokuro is also amazing; but it’s not considered “authentic” (hon also means “main” in Japanese) in the eyes of the Japanese tea industry. The special straw provides extra minerals which are carried into the soil by rain that filters through the mats, allowing the plants to drink up the extra minerals and deliver it to your cup via the leaves.

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