Why is the Gyokuro Tea Price so High?

Of all the leaf teas in Japan, the Gyokuro tea price is likely the highest. This has to do with a variety of different factors, ranging anywhere from the cultivation of the tea plant, the selection of the leaves and the processing of the tea itself.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into gyokuro and find out what exactly makes this green tea so expensive. 

Before you get started, you may want to refresh your knowledge about what is Gyokuro. We strongly recommend you to read the article 👉 Everything You Need to Know About Gyokuro Tea. It's the ultimate guide about this magical tea! 

Why is the Gyokuro Tea Price so High - Complete Video

Factors that influence the Gyokuro Tea Price

There are a few different factors that influence the gyokuro tea price. In this segment, we are going to discuss 5 reasons why the gyokuro tea price is so high, and why it is actually worth it for this carefully produced and selected tea.

Extra labor required to shade the plants

First, let’s start out with the shading process. Gyokuro and matcha are the two longest shaded green teas in Japan. Certain Sencha are shaded for around 7 days, Kabuse sencha is shaded for 10 days or more and Gyokuro and matcha green tea powder are shaded for 21 days or more. The shading process reduces the bitterness of the tea and increases its sweetness.  If you want to learn more about the difference between Gyokuro and Sencha, we suggest you to read the article 👉 Gyokuro vs Sencha: Differences & Comparisons. 

When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight it produces more catechins to protect itself from the UV rays, which creates a more bitter flavor. If the tea plant is shaded, it produces less catechins and retains more of its theanine. The theanine is responsible for the sweet and savory flavors of green teas. While this sweet and savory flavor is well sought after, it takes a lot of work to produce. For this Gyokuro, Mr. Sakamoto needs to set up a scaffolding to put the nets on top of. The nets will then be rolled on top of the scaffolding so that the plant can be cut off from sunlight, but there is still enough space underneath for people to come in and harvest the leaves. 

The plant has to survive 3 weeks without sunlight

Setting up the netting is just one part of the challenge. The second factor that influences the gyokuro tea price is what comes next. After the scaffolding has been set up, the tea plant now needs to be kept alive for 3 weeks without sunlight. If you want to learn more about the Gyokuro tea plant and cultivation, we advice you to read the article 👉 All you need to know the Gyokuro Plant.

This is a stressful time for the plant, and it needs to be strengthened in order to maintain its health for this long period of time. While most farmers would use chemical fertilizers to do this, organic farmers like Mr. Sakamoto like to do things the more natural way. He used nutrients from the surrounding area combined with compost to create an organic fertilizer that strengthens the cellular structure of the tea plants. He says he can even tell organic leaves from non-organic leaves by holding them up to the light. The organic leaves have less of a dense cellular structure, so they appear more see through. 

Careful Leaf Selection

After the 3 week shading process is complete, the tea is ready to be harvested. This is where the third factor comes in and that is leaf selection. Cheaper teas are made from the older leaves, lower down on the stem of the tea plant. 

To make premium sencha, matcha and gyokuro the top leaves of the plant need to be used. The top sprouts are the youngest, most nutrient dense and the sweetest in flavor. This careful leaf selection means that the farmer is able to produce less Gyokuro on the same acre of land compared to a cheaper tea like bancha, so the gyokuro tea price becomes higher. It also adds additional work during the production process, as leaves have to be more carefully harvested and sorted.

Leaves are steamed, partially dried and rolled

After the leaves have been harvested, they are steamed, partially dried and rolled. This rolling process is common along all tea types, but it is even more precise when it comes to Gyokuro. Gyokuro has these unique, tightly rolled needle shapes that lock in the flavor so they can be released into the water in a strong infusion. This careful rolling needs to be done by a specific type of machine. This of course adds extra costs and extra steps to the production of Gyokuro, which raises the gyokuro tea price.

After the leaves have been rolled with the specialized rolling machine, they are ready to be dried one final time. This is when the leaves take their final shape and achieve a moisture content of between 4-7%. This ensures that the gyokuro leaves keep their flavor locked inside the leaf until they are infused into water. In other words, these tight needle shaped leaves aren't just for looks, they actually serve an important purpose when it comes to the enjoyment of the tea.

High demand and few suppliers

The final reason for the high gyokuro tea price comes not from the production, but from the customer. Gyokuro has become famous for this super concentrated, sweet umami flavor that is very rare in the world of tea. As a result, producers work meticulously to perfect the ideal Gyokuro flavor. There are even competitions around this, where Gyokuro teas are compared to one another to see which has the best flavor. 

Once these flavors have been perfected, people are willing to pay a higher gyokuro tea price for these incredible teas. Even if the cost is a few dollars per gram, it is worth it for the occasional indulgence. Gyokuro is a tea for special occasions, so the gyokuro tea price doesn’t need to necessarily accommodate daily drinking. When drinking Gyokuro, you’re meant to use a brew a small quantity of super concentrated tea, and really take your time as you sip it. While paying a dollar or two per cup may be expensive for every day tea, Gyokuro drinkers don’t mind paying a higher gyokuro tea price for a special tea they can share with friends of family as a celebration. 

Where can I shop Gyokuro?

If you are looking to try some gyokuro, you can browse our selection of gyokuro on our official website, Nio Teas. After traveling around Japan for years and meeting with dozens of farmers, we have decided to get our gyokuro exclusively from Mr. Sakamoto.  

Mr. Sakamoto has been working in the tea industry his entire life and he has been growing tea without the use of pesticides since 1985. The gyokuro tea he produces is the most flavorful we have tried and it is a great privilege to work with him. If you try out a few of the Gyokuro teas from Mr. Sakamoto, I think you will find that the gyokuro tea price is worth it! 

Final thoughts on Gyokuro Tea price

There are a lot of teas that are overpriced, but gyokuro is not one of them. The gyokuro tea price really takes into consideration all the hard work and careful selection behind this incredible green tea. We’ll leave the final decision up to you, and we strongly encourage you to try some gyokuro tea for yourself and see what all the excitement is about.

Gyokuro tea is a luxurious tea

It is no surprise that the gyokuro tea price is so high given the rich flavor and painstaking detail involved in the production. Compared to other luxurious drinks like champagne, the gyokuro tea price is actually quite reasonable. At the highest level, a cup of gyokuro may only cost a few dollars, which is very reasonable for a celebration among friends. So raise your glasses and let's toast to the incredible drink called gyokuro! 

Is gyokuro the best green tea? For us, yes! 

Gyokuro used to be the tea of choice for the emperor and it is easy to see why. For us, Gyokuro is the pinnacle of Japanese green tea, representing some of its best qualities. The careful growing of the tea, the precise selection of the leaves and the meticulous processing. The end result is truly a work of art, and we really hope that you feel the same way!

So there are 5 reasons why the gyokuro tea price is so high, although not all gyokuro teas are this way. The Gyokuro Cha musume made by Mr. Sakamoto, is one of our most popular teas, and its comparable in price to a normal sencha. This tea has a really great sweet and savory flavor that has earned it a wonderful reputation. You can try it on our website, or you can sign up for the monthly tea club and get it in your first shipment. 

With the monthly tea club, you’ll not only get to try premium green teas from all over Japan, you’ll also get a free clay teapot to help prepare them. This is the perfect way to start off your journey into Japanese green tea.

Thank you all so much for reading our article about the gyokuro tea price and why it is so high. Hopefully you now know why the gyokuro tea price is so high and why it is still worth every penny. If you have any questions about Gyokuro, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until then, we'll see you next time. 

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