14 May 2007

Dr. Andrew Weil & Ito En: Canned Gyokuro

I'm a big fan of Ito En's bottled teas and a big fan of things endorsed by Dr. Weil, so this can only be good. Plus, I firmly believe that products are better when they have a picture of a laughing bearded man on them.

Gyokuro, meaning "jade dew," for its pale green color, is a traditional type of Japanese green tea that's carefully shaded as it grows. The lack of sunlight makes the tea plants produce more chlorophyll, which means the resultant infusion is naturally sweet. It's very distinctive, and usually pointed out as one of the finest grades of green available from Japan. Buying it in loose leaf is usually fairly expensive, and this teeny-tiny 8oz can was $1.79, the same price as Ito En's 16.9oz bottles. You apparently pay quite a markup for the Bearded Elderly Man Seal of Approval.

I've never had cold gyokuro before, but it turns out this is fairly good - although it goes against your instincts, since I wanted to drink it very slowly to savor the gyokuro flavor, yet it was cold, I was thirsty and it was quite a temptation to just guzzle the entire baby-can in ten seconds or so.

The canned gyokuro is surprisingly tasty. Gyokuro can taste wretched if it's not brewed properly, which combined with how expensive it is means I'm usually too poor and too lazy to make it. This is definitely a nice brew, with a light and delicate, sweet vegetal flavor. You initially taste a very light sencha, which then deepens quickly into the natural sweetness that gyokuro is prized for. Once you've swallowed, the aftertaste is nice and grassy, and the that lightens and leaves a lingering sweetness on your tongue. I'm a little surprised that essentially the entire fun gyokuro experience is available in this can, and I didn't even have to get out my loose-leaf brewing pot (or get out of my chair, for that matter).

So, I'm torn. On one hand, this is the only pre-brewed gyokuro that I know of, and it's actually pretty good if you can avoid drinking the whole can on the first sip. On the other hand, Ito En is charging me $1.79 for a little over a cup measure full of it. Apparently proceeds from the Bearded Man Seal of Approval cans go to the Weil Foundation's holistic medicine research, so at least I can convince myself that I'm drinking tea for a good cause when I inevitably buy a cart full of these tomorrow.

Dr. Andrew Weil & Ito En: Gyokuro


Notes: EXPENSIVE. No more expensive that most bottled drinks, but sort of disturbing to pay $1.79 for a can that looks like one of those little silly tomato juice cans you get at brunch. If you're really thirsty, or looking to be refreshed, this is not your bottled drink - try one of Ito En's 16.9 oz bottles of regular Pure Green or Jasmine Green. If you're looking for an enjoyable tea experience, or want to try gyokuro without the song and dance it requires to prepare, I recommend it.


Laura said...

What do "vegetal" and "sencha" mean? Maybe these are things to consider adding to the glossary....?

I love the pictures and your commentary, they're fantastic.

Meryl said...

Thank you very much! I will add those terms at once. Can't imagine how I forgot them.

Jeffrey Dach MD said...

You may have seen the June AARP magazine article by Dr. Andrew Weil, which gives the mistaken impression that there is only one medical publication (Rudman NEJM 1990) which reports the beneficial effects of growth hormone on the physical parameters of aging.

In reality there has been over 20 years of research with thousands of medical studies showing benefits from Growth Hormone therapy, and extremely high safety profile.

Growth Hormone is a patented FDA approved pharmaceutical with proven efficacy, and therefore Dr. Weil's "snake oil" label for growth hormone is hardly appropriate.

Benefits of (HGH) growth hormone include improved body composition, increased muscle and less body fat, improved bone density, improved wound healing, improved cognitive function, and improved sense of well being.

Burn victims heal faster with growth hormone and have increased muscle protein synthesis. Patients with Crohn's disease and short bowel syndrome show improved nutritional status with HGH treatment. Cardiac cachexia patients gain weight, get well and leave the hospital. Hip fracture patients heal with fewer complications.

The AARP Dr. Andrew Weil "the Debunker" article fails to tell us that our hormone levels decline dramatically after age 50, and by the age of 60 most adults have Growth Hormone levels indistinguishable from those of hypopituitary patients with organic lesions in the pituitary gland.

For more info and references, see

Dr. Andrew Weil Says Human Growth Hormone is "Snake Oil"

Jeffrey Dach MD

TommyFlorida said...

Regarding the small cans, apparently, in Japan, I read the the mass culture enjoys tea in a traditional 3.2 oz cup! And if you look at the Sencha Shot can ( made of steel), it's exactly double that capacity at 6.4 oz's. I agree, the Weil cans are EXPENSIVE so stock up when encounter a somewhat rare sale or discount. ps - to me, the Japanese Sencha green tea tastes alot like mild spinach juice - really! I used to slurp remaining spinach juice down as a kid - of course it was full of salt, pepper and oh yeah, REAL BUTTER - soo good.