Description: Tenkuu Gyokuro is undoubtedly our most prestigious Uji Gyokuro we have had the pleasure of sourcing. Tenkuu is "Hinpyoukai cha" - National tea fair level Gyokuro. Tea of this caliber is rare to find even within Japan's domestic market. This tea hails from the famed Kyotanabe region of Uji which has likely the highest concentration of Honzu straw shaded Gyokuro of anywhere in Japan. Produced to be judged at the National level, Tenkuu was produced from 100% Gokou cultivar plants shaded for 25 days. The processing of the leaf is unparalleled - we have never seen this level of leaf shape outside of Yame.
The brewed tea is incredibly fragrant and the pale brewed liquor is a testament to the expert steaming and rolling of the leaf. A notable freshness remains even after this tea has been resting in refrigeration for 14 months. Intensity and grace are evenly balanced with a slightly floral nose and a deep, focused umami with reminiscent of sweet pea, artichoke and flowers (much less "protein-like" than Yame gyokuro).
What is so special about this tea? Tenkuu is an absolute labor of love. Teas produced specifically for competitive tea fairs in Japan are known as "Shuppin-cha" [出品茶] or "Hinpyoukai-cha" [品評会茶] and Tenkuu is one of them. Teas of this caliber are meant to showcase the skill of the producer and while they don't make up a large percentage of the volume of a tea makers yearly sales, they are considered extremely important. Made from 100% Gokou cultivar. We were overwhelmed with the intensity and richness of this Gyokuro. The notable umami is a product of enriched soil and careful cultivation techniques while the perfect needle-shaped leaves are created under the watchful eye of the producer. Absolutely stunning and a must-try for serious Japanese tea lovers.