Learn More about the Gyokuro Tea Benefits
Gyokuro Tea Benefits go way beyond its delicious taste! In this article, we are going to discuss 11 different benefits of drinking gyokuro tea. Whether you are curious about gyokuro tea or you have been drinking it for a long time, you are no doubt curious about some of the benefits you can get from drinking the so-called “emperor’s tea”. These gyokuro tea health benefits cover a wide range of areas, and we really have our work cut out for us, so let’s get started!
Watch the Video on Gyokuro Tea Benefits
What is Gyokuro Tea?
Gyokuro is one of the most sought after leaf teas in Japan, and in this article you’re going to see why that is. It’s made from tea plants that have been shaded for 3 weeks prior to the harvest. Once shaded, the top 3 leaves of the plant are selected to be steamed, rolled and dried to produce these beautiful pine needle shaped leaves. Let’s go through 11 benefits of Gyokuro tea, and why you may want to start drinking it.
11 Gyokuro Green Tea Health Benefits
#1 Mental Alertness
One of the first gyokuro green tea benefits is that it is very high in caffeine. Gyokuro contains somewhere in between 120-140 milligrams of caffeine per cup, which is even more caffeine than a small cup of coffee. The reason Gyokuro is so high in caffeine is because of its long shading process. The tea plant produces caffeine as a defense mechanism to ward off insects, and when the tea plant is shaded it actually produces more.
This is because the tea plant is put under stress and it is particularly vulnerable when it is cut off from the sunlight. Gyokuro is also only made from the youngest leaves of the tea plant, which are higher in caffeine. These young leaves are more tender, so they need even more protection against the insects. These factors all give Gyokuro the highest caffeine content in the world of tea, which is one of the big benefits of gyokuro.
You may notice that 120-140mg is a pretty broad range, and this is because certain varieties of tea plants produce more caffeine. A Gyokuro made from the Yabukita cultivar like the cha musume may only have 120 milligrams of caffeine, while a Saemidori gyokuro like the cha Meijin will have 140mg of caffeine.
#2 Calm Feeling
The gyokuro green tea benefits don’t just end with caffeine, Gyokuro is also high in theanine as well. This is the second reason why this tea has become so popular. Not only do shaded teas produce more caffeine, they also produce more theanine as well. L-theanine is an amino acid in green tea that gives it this sweet and savory flavor. It also is responsible for that calm, relaxed feeling you get when you drink a cup of tea.
L-theanine helps to slow the absorption of caffeine, and therefore it is able to buffer some of its more negative side effects. Instead of getting a quick jolt of energy and then a crash shortly after, you’ll notice a more sustained energy throughout the day. This is why a lot of people use green tea for long periods of work, study and meditation.
A tea with a high theanine content will have this beautiful sweet and savory flavor. Japanese green teas have become famous for this, as they really push the limits on these rich savory flavors.
Where does the theanine in Gyokuro come from?
As we mentioned before, the high theanine content is developed during the shading process. Normally, when a tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it converts the sweet theanine into more bitter catechins, to help give the leaves some UV protection.
The more catechins a tea produces, the more it begins to take on this drier or more astringent flavor. Because of this, the longer a tea plant has been shaded, the sweeter and less bitter it becomes.
This concept is taken to the extreme when it comes to Gyokuro tea, which is shaded for a full 3 weeks or more before the harvest. It’s common for a regular sencha tea to be shaded for about a week before the harvest, to just give it a little extra sweetness, but no other leaf tea is shaded for as long as Gyokuro. Matcha tea is also shaded for 3 weeks prior to the harvest, but it is ground into a powder, making the flavor much different.
#3 Supports a healthy heart
In addition to producing caffeine and theanine, catechins are another one of the major benefits of drinking gyokuro tea. Catechins are a type of bioflavonoid that appears to help reduce the risk of blood clots, stroke and other types of cardiovascular disease.
In addition to cardiovascular disease, there are apparently gyokuro green tea benefits with regards to cholesterol and blood pressure. Green tea appears to block the absorption of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”. As long as you are drinking your green tea unsweetened, it may also improve blood sugar levels.
#4 Keeps your skin looking clear and youthful
As part of the vitamin and mineral profile of gyokuro, there is a relatively high presence of vitamin C. Vitamin C can be effective when it comes to lightening dark spots caused by scars or acne.
These scars and marks can build up over time, and lead to older looking skin. The best thing to do is try and prevent these from forming in the first place, but the marks can be reduced overtime to show younger looking and healthier skin.
#5 Fat burning
One of the key nutrients in gyokuro is EGCG or Epigallocatechin gallate. This antioxidant can help to improve the metabolic process. A faster metabolism leads to the quicker consumption of energy and calories, which can lead to fat loss overtime.
As a result, gyokuro tea can be a great addition to a balanced healthy diet and exercise, and help you achieve your fat loss and muscle gain goals overtime.
#6 Dental health
Green tea gets the reputation of being bad for your teeth, but there are gyokuro green tea benefits related to dental health as well. The polyphenols within gyokuro, and other types of green teas, can improve dental health by preventing things like cavities and bad breath.
In addition to the polyphenols, gyokuro also contains flouride and minerals which appear to prevent tooth decay and other infections of the mouth. Studies on gyokuro tea health benefits have also shown a decrease in the development of gum disease and gingivitus for those who drink green tea.
#7 Cancer prevention
As we mentioned before, there have been some impressive studies on the health benefits of gyokuro when it comes to dental hygiene, but this appears to apply even to the prevention of oral cancer. Not only do the benefits of gyokuro extend to oral cancer, but also other types of cancer such as bladder cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovary cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Like other benefits of gyokuro, this comes down to the presence of EGCG, the main antioxidant in Gyokuro. These antioxidants can have many benefits to the body, this is simply one of them.
#8 Good for digestion
Let’s come back to one of our favorite benefits of drinking gyokuro tea - polyphenols. The polyphenols in gyokuro tea can help improve the bodies digestive process. As a result, drinking teas that are high in polyphenols like gyokuro can help your body break down food more effectively.
In certain studies, the EGCG has been shown to reduce the inflammation in the digestional tract. The benefits of drinking gyokuro tea can also include help with excessive gas and bloating. This can lead to a more healthy, regular and comfortable digestion overtime.
#9 Reduces inflammation
As we mentioned before, one of the benefits of gyokuro tea is that it reduces the inflammation in the digestional tract, but this reduction in inflammation applies throughout the body as well.
According to a study out of the tea science center at the university of Shizuoka, the Epigallocatechin gallate in green tea has been demonstrated to have anti inflammatory effects. The findings indicate that green tea and EGCG can suppress the gene/protein expression of inflammatory cytokines and inflammation-related enzymes.
#10 Boost your immune system
Among the gyokuro green tea health benefits most talked about, the vitamin C and polyphenols are some of the most talked about. These of course also have implications on the immune system.
According to a study at Harvard medical school that is pertinent to gyokuro green tea health benefits, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), has been shown consistently to benefit the healthy functioning of several body systems. Apparently, green tea can not only strengthen the immune response, but also modulate it. The study goes on to state that In the immune system specifically, accumulating evidence has revealed an immunomodulating effect of green tea/EGCG.
Although we have discussed it many times in this article, it is hard to overstress the benefits of the antioxidant EGCG. This seems to be the culprit behind a lot of the promising research on gyokuro green tea health benefits. Antioxidants are something health nuts can’t get enough of, and rather than eating handfuls of pomegranate seeds, why not drink a few cups of Gyokuro in the morning? In addition to creating a nice calming morning routine, it can also be a good source of antioxidants to your diet.
Other Gyokuro Green Tea Benefits
In addition to gyokuro tea health benefits, there are also benefits of gyokuro tea that go beyond health. Here we are going to talk a little bit about the flavor and versatility of Gyokuro tea, and why these are also reasons to start drinking it.
A strong cup of Gyokuro can be described as almost having this marine flavor profile of seaweed. This is a taste that takes a lot of getting used to, but once you acquire the flavor for it, it can be quite enjoyable. This flavor makes gyokuro very sought after in the world of tea, with some paying up to a few dollars per gram of these carefully crafted leaves.
In addition to the taste being very savory and sweet, it’s also very strong as well. The fourth reason to drink Gyokuro is for this incredibly strong flavor that is unique in the world of tea. If you’re used to drinking these lighter, more watered down green teas, you are in for a real surprise when you drink your first cup of Gyokuro.
What Does Gyokuro Taste Like?This tea is very heavy on the palate, with a dense liquor and strong flavor profile. This strong flavor is pushed even further by some tea masters, when they brew the tea with even less water.
Brewing with a Higher Leaf to Water Ratio
You may see a premium Gyokuro be prepared with 5 grams of leaves and as little as 50 milligrams of water. The tea is then served in these tiny glasses for each guest. When the Gyokuro is served like this, it becomes an entirely different drinking experience altogether. It now becomes not only about the taste, but about the texture as well. As you drink the tea drop by drop out of the small Gyokuro glass, you are meant to appreciate the feeling as it glides over your tongue.
Preparing Gyokuro in a Shibooridashi
One way to prepare this tea with very little water is in a special type of teapot called a shibooridashi. This flat teapot is perfect for Gyokuro, giving the extra large leaves a space to open up and release their flavor, while also allowing the tea master to use less water and make a more concentrated infusion. If you haven’t yet tried preparing Gyokuro with this low water method, it’s definitely something you should try at least once.
Cold Brewing Gyokuro
The final reason to drink Gyokuro is that the tea works great as a cold brew. Cold brewing is something we like to do when we want to enjoy green teas on warmer days. By preparing the tea with cooler water, you actually extract less of the catechins, while still extracting the sweet and savory theanine. As a result, cold brewed teas tend to be smoother and sweeter although they are slightly less strong in their taste.
We have found that Gyokuro tea works quite well when prepared cold, because it produces a nice sweet and refreshing cold brew, without tasting too watered down. We also like the Gyokuro Karigane as a cold brew, which is made by using both the stems and leaves of the plant used to make Gyokuro. This tea takes on some cool cucumber and melon notes, that are just what people are looking for in an iced tea.
Where to Buy Gyokuro Tea
If you are looking for some Gyokuro tea, we really recommend the Gyokuro made by Mr. Sakamoto in Shibushi. Mr. Sakamoto took over his family business in 1985 and he has been growing gyokuro without the use of pesticides or chemicals ever since. Despite not using these potent chemicals, he is able to produce healthy and flavorful gyokuro teas by using his own fertilizer. This allows him to create delicious gyokuro without harming the surrounding ecosystem.
The gyokuro sasa hime is made from a blend of the cultivars Okumidori, saemidori and Yabukita, so it has a very complex flavor profile. You can also try the light and sweet gyokuro cha mejin, the strong and savory cha musume or the smooth and vegetal wakamusha. Whatever Gyokuro you decide to use, I’m sure you will enjoy taking great tasting green tea and get to raise a glass to good health!
Sources of this article