And while I am utterly surrounded by tea at work- no, I'm not complaining about that- it's always a treat when something new shows up, like this hand-rolled (or temomi) gyokuro from Yame, Japan, that we had. The matte tone of the elegant, needle-shaped leaves is due to this process; even though these producers could easily break you in half, human hands can't produce the same amount of friction or pressure as a machine (but it sounds way cooler).
I'm a sucker for gyokuro, since it's the tea that got me into this whole mess, but I've rarely had a hand-rolled variety. This one had its characteristic powerful, brothy intensity with salty, bittersweet flavors that last far longer than you think possible. As one of my friends described it, it tasted like it had no beginning or end- it was like stepping into the middle of a plot and being told, "figure it out, kid."
We tried some Japanese black tea as well, which makes up less than 1% of the country's tea production. This one was from Mie Prefecture, near Kyoto, and when my friend asked the farmer why he started making black tea, he replied because he liked it- probably the best reason to do anything.
Maybe a little missing out is good, though. Satisfaction can so easily lead to stasis.