Hon Gyokuro: the highest grade of Japanese Green Tea
Gyokuro differs from the more usual sencha green tea by being grown under shades and not in direct sunlight. It's typically shaded for about 4 weeks.
Hon Gyokuro from Yame is created with additional care in time-consuming processes: covering the plants with traditional straw mats maintains the temperature and humidity conditions which are perfect for cultivating tea buds. Shutting out sunlight allows the tea leaves to acquire a beautiful luster, and harvesting the leaves by hand enables workers to pick only the soft parts of the new buds, which means the tea leaves will all be of the same size.
This process also produces more amino acids such as theanine but reduces the volume of catechins that normally create astringency. This is why it creates the most smooth, full-bodied flavor of any Japanese green tea.