I really enjoy my mugs of delicious flavored teas and tisanes. I will always reach for a Hot Cinnamon Spice when winter settles in. I will happily chug honeybush dessert teas that taste like banana nut bread and cotton candy. And of course, how could I not indulge in a spiced chai latte when visiting coffee shops. But, the kind of tea I love most of all? Those unflavored, single origin teas that demand slow, intentional sips so I don’t miss a note in its array of aromas. Those teas that transform across multiple infusions, and I can’t help but scribble barely legible tasting notes because I’m too excited to explore a tea to care about neatness. Those teas that transport me to a time and place that isn’t now, but instead some distant memory. Some as clear as day, others a bit muddled– possibly an amalgamation of memories. But, whatever it was, brought joy and wonder. I experienced all of that recently while sipping a Gyokuro from Japanese Green Tea Company.
The first sips are savory umami. They are sultry summer afternoons in north Georgia, where the heat index is 108. Humidity hangs heavy in the air and thunderheads grow in the sky, but I am outside anyway seeking refuge in the woods behind my house where I can follow the creek and the shade of the tall, skinny pine trees all the way down to the shore of Lake Allatoona. I don’t meander to the lake very often, but when I do, there is a humming in my chest and my legs– a sensation of being thrilled because I’ve ventured somewhere I’m not supposed to be.
The finish is slightly sweet and grassy, and now it’s no longer sultry summer afternoons. It is a late Spring morning instead. It is soft, freshly mowed grass clippings– the kind that sticks to bare feet eager to run to the park to spend the afternoon poolside. It is a fist full of quarters for the vending machine. It is pool toys teetering out of over-stuffed tote bags. It is sitting impatiently at the edge of the deep end until adult swim is over. It is somersaulting into the pool the moment the whistle is blown.
The second cup takes me someplace entirely different. It’s further back on my timeline and further north, too. Only the best teas take me here– back to central Ohio, back to my foolhardiest days. The second cup has lost most of the umami and is instead mostly sweet and vegetal. It is listless summer afternoons, chewing on the end of tall, tasseled grass on the front porch of the babysitter’s house. The kind with seeds we plucked off and stuck on our tongues, and when we said “caterpillar, caterpillar, caterpillar”, the seed would inch its way to the back of the mouth.
The Gyokuro from Japanese Green Tea Co. feels like a luxury both in aroma and experience– one I want to indulge in all the time but through sheer willpower, manage to save for the rare quiet moments when Jon and Oliver are snoozing and I can just sit and exist and reflect.
This tea was sent to me for free in exchange for a review. Thoughts are ever my own. If you are interested in learning more about Japanese Green Tea Co. and Gyokuro, or you like your tasting notes a little more concrete, be sure to check the video at the top of the post. You can also check out my review for their Fukamushi Sencha!