(7 Steps) To Making the Perfect Cup of Gyokuro
A step-by-step guide on how to enjoy this amazingly rich Japanese Tea.
This article was last modified November 22nd, 2021. by Yuki
Here we’ll go over how to brew Japanese Gyokuro Tea.
Gyokuro is a high-grade Japanese green tea loaded with umami. It's drank in a very unique way in that the thickness and richness is so high, that it's almost intense!
The key point to prepare this tea is to use hot water at a relatively low temperature and take time to slowly extract the taste and nutrients. This infusion method allows for the umami to maximize.
The serving size should be much smaller than other Japanese green tea, as it should be enjoyed in precious small sips.
We'll go over the preparation process step-by-step!
This page will demonstrate the preparation of Gyokuro using Japanese tea tools.
Gyokuro uses specialized tea tools – smaller ones than tools you would use for Sencha. It’s ok if you don’t have these – you can use alternatives as well.
Quick Guide for brewing Gyokuro
Leaves (roughly in teaspoons)
Brewing time (Seconds)
Chart: Instructions for Brewing Gyokuro
What do I need in order to make Gyokuro?
First, prepare all the required tools for Gyokuro. You would typically need the following.
- Gyokuro leaves
- Small-sized Kyusu (Teapot)
- Small-sized Chawan (Cups)
- Yuzamashi – a bowl to cool down boiled water (Optional)
From Left: Kyusu, Yuzamashi, and Chawan. Use smaller ones for Gyokuro.
Gyokuro will use a small-sized Kyusu that can contain around 100ml of water. The Chawan should be small as well, each being about 40ml size.
If you don't have these, not to worry. While it is ideal to have teapots and cups of the perfect size, you can substitute using any other teapot and cups.
If you don't have Gyokuro Leaves, please do take some time to drop by our online shop as well!
Step 2: Measuring the Amount of Gyokuro Tea Leaves
2-3g of leaves per person for Gyokuro
Gyokuro will use more tea leaves than other types of Japanese tea.
When brewing, you would typically use 3g of tea leaves, or roughly 1 teaspoon per person.
This isn't a drink to quench your thirst! So for each person, so the amount of water you will be using will be very small. Use only 50ml of water per person.
Step3: Prepare the right amount of water in the Chawan
Measure the water
The next step is to boil the water. This step is straightforward - just boil water in a kettle.
Once it’s boiled, don’t put the boiling water directly into the Kyusu! It will be too hot for Gyokuro tea!
The high temperatures of water will extract too much astringency from the tea, and will destroy the value of the Gyokuro.
You’ll have to measure the correct amount of water, and then lower the water temperature first before you expose the tea leaves with the water.
The measuring of the water is done by pouring the boiling water in the Chawan. By doing so, you will know exactly how much water you will need to serve all the cups. Use the small-sized Chawan for Gyokuro (40ml size) to do this.
Keep in mind that when you infuse the Gyokuro, the tea leaves will absorb the water so the amount at the end will become less. They would absorb about 4 times the mass of the leaves. Make sure you add enough water to account for this.
Step 4: Lowering the water temperature before infusion
50-60 degrees Celsius is best to brew Gyokuro
Next step is to lower the temperature of the water.
For Gyokuro, it’s best to lower the temperature to between 50 to 60 degrees Celsius. This is to extract and maximize the umami taste while not allowing the astringency tastes to come out.
To lower the temperature, you can use a “Yuzamashi”, which is a bowl to lower the temperature of the water. If you don’t have one, well, you can use anything!
Each time the boiling water is transferred to a bowl or a Chawan, the water temperature will drop between 5 to 10 degrees. This will depend on many factors such as the size of the bowls and room temperature, but generally in Singapore, you can expect the drop to be closer to 5 degrees. You can use this mechanism to reduce the temperature of the boiling water to optimal levels.
Once the temperature is optimal, pour the water into the Kyusu, and start the infusion.
Step5: Brew the Gyokuro
Patience required for Gyokuro... 150 seconds to seep
Because the temperature of the water is relatively low, and because with Gyokuro you would want to enjoy the rich thick taste, it will take time for the tea to seep. Infuse the tea for about 150 seconds.
Step 6: Serve and Enjoy!
Pour in this order
The key when you serve Gyokuro to several people is to keep the richness of the tea to be the same. The tea will become richer as you pour. In order to keep this even, the tea is poured in the following order.
This method of pouring is called “Mawashisogi”. If there are 3 Chawans, firstly, pour halfway in the order of 1 – 2 – 3. Subsequently, pour again in the reverse order of 3 – 2 – 1.
Make sure that the tea is poured to the very last drop. This helps to keep the second infusion delicious as well. If tea is remaining in the Kyusu, the second infusion may not be as enjoyable.
When you drink Gyokuro, don’t drink it all at once. Let the tea roll on your tongue to enjoy the umami and the “Ooi-ka” aroma that the tea has.
Step 7: Second Infusion
For the second Infusion, use water of a higher temperature than the first infusion.
Increase roughly 10 degrees Celsius to do this. So if your first infusion was at around 50 degrees, then your second infusion should be at roughly 60 degrees.
The infusion time should be shorter as well (about 60 seconds) to extract the nutrients and release the aroma. For the infusions after the 1st, the tea leaves have already absorbed the water. You will not need to calculate the additional water being sucked by the leaves.
Is it possible to eat Gyokuro Tea leaves?
Yes, it's possible to eat tea leaves. Gyokuro is especially easy to eat as the leaves are soft as compared to other types of Japanese tea.
One quick way to enjoy the used tea leaves of a Gyokuro is to turn it into a furikake. You can take the Gyokuro leaves and fry on a pan. Add Mirin, soy sauce, and other ingredients you'd like in your furikake (such as sesame, seaweed, bonito flakes, etc), fry it together, and that's all!
Can you cold brew Gyokuro?
Cold brewing Gyokuro is excellent! It brings out the umami to the max.
We've covered the types of cold brew you can do in this article. Try the Mizu-dashi or the Kouri-dashi for cold-brewing quality Gyokuro!
How is Gyokuro different from a Sencha
The loose leaves of Sencha and Gyokuro do look very similar, however are very much different. The biggest differences lie in the fact that Gyokuro leaves are shaded from the sun while the Sencha leaves aren't. This helps Gyokuro become very rich in umami. It also makes it precious as the quantity of leaves that can be harvestable will reduce.
You can read everything about Gyokuro in this ultimate guide on Gyokuro.
Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.