Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very deep green, needle-like shape
Water Temperature: 104 degrees
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Preparation Method: hohin
Liquor: pale greenish gold
I have really enjoyed digging deeper into Japanese green tea over the last few years. IKKYU has been a big part of that journey. They partner directly with producers in Kyushu Island to promote high-quality green teas to the rest of the world. I previously enjoyed a competition gyokuro of theirs that was made with the Saemidori cultivar so I was excited when they offered to share a new limited edition tea made with the KIRARI 13 cultivar. It was the seven times winner of the All Japan Tea Competition.
Let’s get into the tea!
The tea came packaged in a simply designed but beautiful paper envelope. It was accompanied by their signature product sheet that provides in-depth information. I love getting to know more about Kiya Yasuhiko, a third-generation tea producer in Yame. The dry leaves were fine needles with a beautiful dark green color. When I posted the picture below on social media, people commented that they felt like they could smell it just by looking at it!
For the purpose of this review, I prepared this tea using IKKYU’s recommendations. I brewed 3g of leaves in 15ml of water with 104℉ for 2 minutes. The steep time was reduced to 1 minute for the second and third infusions. My brewing vessel was a hagi-yaki hohin that was perfectly sized for this style of brewing.
IKKYU Competition Gyokuro KIRARI 31 brewed up a pale greenish gold liquor. The taste was nothing short of an umami bomb. It was brothy and sweet with an aftertaste that lingered long after I had finished my last sip. It was vegetal but in a fresh and verdant way. The mouthfeel was thick and there was no astringency at all. Gyokuro means jade dew and I think that sums this tea up perfectly. Every drop counts! Brewing with such a low water temperature might seem strange, but it really helps to extract the best parts of this tea.
I would absolutely recommend trying this, or any of the other teas offered by IKKYU. Competition grade gyokuro is not cheap by any means but well worth the experience. Unfortunately, this tea is no longer available for individual sale. IKKYU does have it as part of a beautiful gift set if you are interested.
Have you ever tried IKKYU Competition Gyokuro KIRARI 31? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Competition Gyokuro KIRARI31 sample provided for review by IKKYU.