Gyokuro Definition: Name Origins & What the Gyokuro Meaning is

The gyokuro meaning tells you a lot about the tea itself. It is hard to answer the question what does gyokuro mean without diving into the history and the production of gyokuro tea. We’re planning on doing both in this article, showing you how gyokuro was discovered, how gyokuro is made and how the tea got the gyokuro definition. Without further ado, let’s get started!


Gyokuro definition

Gyokuro is a type of shaded green tea from Japan. It differs from the standard sencha (a classic unshaded green tea) in being grown under the shade rather than the full sun. The name "gyokuro" translates as "jewel dew" (or "jade dew"). While most sencha is from the Yabukita cultivar of Camellia sinensis, gyokuro is often made from a specialized variety such as Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai, and Saemidori.


What does gyokuro mean? 

The gyokuro definition translates to either “precious dew” or “jade dew”. To understand what the gyokuro definition means you have to take a look at the history of gyokuro, which we will do in the next section. Let’s first explain what this tea is:

What is Gyokuro?

Gyokuro is considered to be the most sought after leaf tea in Japan. To be considered gyokuro tea, the gyokuro plant needs to be shaded for 3 weeks or more before the harvest. This improves the flavor and also increases the Gyokuro caffeine level

After the shading process is complete, the farmer will select the top 3 leaves of the tea plant. These younger tea sprouts have the smoothest and sweetest flavor, but they are also the highest in nutrients. All of the premium Japanese green teas are made from the top leaves and gyokuro is no exception.

After the leaves have been harvested, they are gathered up and taken through the production process. Here the leaves are steamed, partially dried and then rolled. In order to get the tight “pine needle” shaped leaves that gyokuro is famous for, it has to go through an extra rolling phase, in a machine designed specifically for gyokuro. 

Did you know that some people are even eating gyokuro leaves? To learn more about it, read our article 👉 Why people are Eating Gyokuro Leaves?


How the gyokuro meaning first started 

In 1835, a tea merchant named Yamamoto Kahei traveled to Uji to learn about tea cultivation. He noticed that a lot of the families that were growing tea would cover the tea plants with a straw net in order to protect them from the cold.

He found that the tea produced by these shaded tea plants was smoother and sweeter, and he decided to conduct a few experiments on his own. After producing a few batches of these shaded teas, he noticed that the leaves produced a green residue after they were steamed. He nicknamed this “jade dew” and that’s how we got the gyokuro meaning we have today!

This gyokuro definition may not be a literal description of what the tea is like kabuse cha (shaded tea) or kuki cha (stem tea) but it paints the tea in more of an artistic light, which only adds to the lore of this legendary tea.


Final thoughts on the Gyokuro Definition

The gyokuro meaning doesn’t matter, what’s really important is that the gyokuro taste is great! It is sweet and savory in flavor, and the tea is loaded with caffeine, l-theanine and antioxidants. A lot of people find that by replacing coffee with gyokuro, they notice a longer lasting calm alert sensation throughout the day, without the crash or the jitters.

If you are looking to prepare some gyokuro tea for yourself, you can try out the tea from Mr. Sakamoto. Mr. Sakamoto is a legendary farmer in southern Japan that has been growing tea without the use of pesticides since 1985. He uses his own blend of fertilizer to grow strong, flavorful tea plants without harming the natural ecosystem.

His most popular Gyokuro is the gyokuro cha musume, a powerful green tea made from the Yabukita cultivar. This tea has a direct savory flavor, and these pleasant floral notes. 

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