To achieve creation of the best of the best, it is not enough to simply cultivate the best leaves. The best leaves need to then be processed well and refined with extreme care to get only needles. That is the value a tea master -- a master appraiser and blender of tea leaves -- brings to the table, and few masters are more highly regarded than Hiroshi Kobayashi, the only 10-dan ranked master in Kyoto and one of only 13 in Japan.
Shogyoku is Kobayashi-san's flagship gyokuro, cultivated by himself on the factory's own tea field (dedicated to making this tea and their flagship matcha). Labeled "Heritage Grade" due the utilization of traditional shading -- a canopy with yoshizu reeds layered in gradual steps, and then processed and refined with utmost attention to maintaining the perfect needle shape in the final tea leaves. Using an umami-rich cultivar, Uji Midori, only a few dozen kilograms are handpicked each year and only once a year allowing the plant an entire year to fully rejuvenate and enrich itself with flavor.
Tea: 3 grams, Time: 3 minutes, Water: 40˚C/104˚F degrees, 30 ml
This formula is meant to extract an umami syrup, an ambrosia of tea. Subsequent steeps may be enjoyed as a sencha, steeping a full cup for 30 seconds at 70˚C/158˚F degrees.
Another way to achieve this tea ambrosia is by allowing ice to melt over the leaf, our favorite way of enjoying this leaf in fact while with friends. You make a few drops at a time every 30 minutes, and spend a leisurely entire afternoon enjoying the leaf.
Ingredients: Green tea
Cultivar: Uji Midori
- Harvest: May
- Region: Wazuka, Kyoto. Refined in Kyotanabe, Kyoto.
- Notes: Shaded for 30-40 days depending on the year on an award-
- Name: Shogyokuen
- Type: Tea factory, family business
- CEO: Hiroshi & Tsuyoshi Kobayashi
- Established: 1827
- Employees: about 12