Ingredient to Know
Fancy a cup of tea? Then make it Gyokuro, one of the most precious varietals of green tea on the planet. Yes, on the planet. Gyokuro is harvested in such a unique way that its natural antioxidant and anti-irritant properties are maximized to their full potential. The result is a rich and savory healthy tea abundant in the amino acid Umami, which supports inner vitality when drinking it. What’s more, Umami helps soothe, calm, and fight off oxidative damage when infused with a cocktail of brightening skin care ingredients. Fun fact: Samurai would drink Gyokuro tea before battle because of its nerve-calming ingredient, theanine, and invigorating jolt of caffeine. It's a centuries-old beauty elixir whose calming powers have been optimized in modern times.
The art of the harvest.
The family-run Obubu Tea Farm in Kyoto, Japan has perfected the delicate process of growing Gyokuro, also romantically referred to as Jade Dew. The game-changing technique: Just prior to harvest time in late April, the entire Gyokoru crop is covered with an expansive black shade for three weeks. Preventing direct sunlight from touching the green leaves slows down the rate of photosynthesis, changing the chemistry of the tea leaves and generating higher levels of caffeine and theanine, the key components that help energize, soothe, and protect cells from oxidization and irritation. After three weeks in the shade, only the youngest, most vital leaves are handpicked and steamed, then hand-rolled and air dried to allow for the tea’s flavor components to fully be released.
The benefits of green tea, Gyokuro.
Gyokuro tea is steeped in benefits. For instance, its caffeine is a potent anti-irritant that calms the skin and minimizes irritation and damage. As with everything else in life, the calmer your skin is, the less susceptible it will be towards damage. Clinique research has shown that when skin cells are in a state of equilibrium, not only are they less prone to irritation that causes excess melanin production, but they are also more receptive to repair and treatment. Gyokuro is one key ingredient in the new Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector & Optimizer, which quells irritation caused by environmental assaults and reveals a smoother, more radiant complexion.
The Ritual: One tea, three brews.
There’s also an art to enjoying a cup of Jade Dew green tea. According to ancient Japanese tradition, the Gyokuro tea ritual involves drinking a series of three brews in increasingly hot water, which allows for the full complexity of flavors to be savored. For the first infusion, steep the tea in simmering water for 15 seconds. This serving will have a sweet, slightly grassy flavor. Once you’ve savored that cup, brew the leaves a second time in bubbling water. More steep time gives you more intensity of flavor, creating a slightly stronger, bitterer tasting tea. Steep the same tea leaves one more time in boiling water—30 seconds for your last brew—which will be bold with an astringent quality. While it’s a bit of an acquired taste, it’s also the most abundant with natural antioxidants. Like a good skin care regimen, this is one routine worth savoring.
Tip: After brewing, mix the green tea leaves in a bowl of steamed rice. Add a little soy sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds for a savory taste of Japanese soul food.
Ingredient Photos: Darrin Haddad | Photos: Mark Holladay Lee | Words: Hilary Presley