Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kuradashi Gyokuro Pinnacle

Tea: Kuradashi Gyokuro Pinnacle
Vendor: Hibiki-an
Source: Uji, Japan

About This Tea: The Kuradashi Pinnacle was the highest grade of aged gyokuro offered by Hibiki-an. This product has since gone out of stock and been removed from their website. Hence the lack of price and vendor description. This particular Kuradashi Gyokuro was stored and aged for 18 months before packaging.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is dark green and very uniform in color. The leaves have a more twisted appearance thanis normal for a gyokuro of this caliber. There is a sweet gyokruo aroma to the leaves that has hints of grassiness to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 10g, 5oz, 140F, 45s, preheated hohin

1st Infusion: The infusion is lightly murky with a yellowish hue to it. There is a very sweet and calming aroma to this tea. The flavor screams umami. It is very strong and promient in this tea, moreso than most other gyokuro that I have tried. There is al ight grassiness to this tea and it actually has a thickness that reminds me of a soup broth more than any other gyokuro. It is smooth, bold and full bodied. The flavor is very round, with no strenght on the backend. The back does make up for this with a very strong brothy aftertaste though. Overall this feels very mellow and thick. There is a ligthly raspy feeling on the tongue after finishing.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 140F, 15s

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a clearer yellow green hue. The flavor is not as centralized this time. It is still rich, but it is lacking on strength in the core. There is a light sense of bitterness and astringency to this infusion. The flavor is still brothy, but not quite as much as the first infusion. It still has a strong umami feeling to it.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 145F, 30s

3rd Infusion: This infusion has the same yellow hue as the second infusion. It exhibits a lightly grassy aroma. There is a medium bitterness to be found in this infusion surprisingly. The flavor again shows strength, but the umami portion of the flavor is much lighter this time around. It feels very light and sharp with hints of a marine flavor to this tea. The tea finishes off with a light sense of astringency, and has the same roughness on the tongue as the first infusion.

4th Infusion Parameters: 1:00, 130F

4th Infusion: This infusion has a richer gyokuro aroma to it. The tea is a light straw yellow hue. There is a medium astringency to it, yet despite this there is a soft and rich flavor to it. The marine flavor is starting to show itself more, stronger than the second infusion, but not overly powerful. There is a sharper aftertaste to this infusion, paired with a sense of bitterness.

5th Infusion Parameters: 130F, 1:30

5th Infusion: The color of the tea switched to a light yellow green hue this time. There is not much of a noticeable aroma to the tea. The flavor is smooth and finishes with a medium sense of astringency. There is a light sharpness on the backend. Ther eis not much flavor in this infusion and the tea is starting to feel a little watery.

6th Infusion Parameters: 145F, 2:00

6th Infusion: This infusion was a pale yllow color. It has a smooth and light flavor to it with a medium sense of astringency. There is a light bitterness on the backend, but it's starting to let up.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This tea is an interesting experience. Not the finest gyokuro that I've had, but not the worst. It's definitely a good drink, but I'm not sure that I would order it again. The aging of a Kuradashi has an interesting effect on the tea, but even with a gyokuro I find myself missing the vibrance of freshness. The price of this tea was quite prohibitive. If I remember right the next grade down was a times cheaper. I expected a more interesting flavor out of this tea, but ended up disappointed. Don't get me wrong though, this tea is a good drink and beats quite a few gyokuro out there, but it's just not what I expected from pinnacle grade.


olivierco said...

Thanks for this very interesting review!

If I remember right the next grade down was a times cheaper.35$ for Pinnacle grade
24$ for Super premium grade

Eric said...

I think that was the price diff, but if I remember right the Pinnace was 80g, and the Super Premium was 100g or 120g. It's the weight on the Super Premium I can't remember.

olivierco said...

Both prices were for a 40g package.

(The kuradashi sencha was sold in 80g packages and the kuradashi kyokuro premium as well.)