Last year, I found myself late to the Shincha ordering party, and was left empty handed. This year I made it a priority to order some before it was gone. I wanted to try products from various locations and various cultivars. What better place to find diverse products of the same style of Japanese teas than Yunomi.us? Check out the Yunomi.us website here, and you will find plenty of interesting Japanese teas and related accessories.
Shincha is the Japanese equivalent of First Flush, or first harvest of the new growing year. The famous Yabukita cultivar is harvested by hand in late April. This tea is from the NaturaliTea, an organic farm located in Takizawa, Fujieda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Shincha teas are well known for their combination of sweet and bitter flavors, and the temperature used to steep the leaves has a signficant effect on the balance of the sweet and bitter characters.
One of my first descriptive words of any Japanese green tea is usually “fresh”, so I am excited to try one that I know is only a month past its harvest date. The tea packet has been opened, and an incredibly fresh, grassy aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are rolled, and are quite uniform in size. The leaves are all medium fragments. There are no whole leaves or stems in the mix. The aroma is very fresh, with strong scents of fresh grass, dark green vegetables, and light sweet wood.
Seven grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 160ºF (70ºC). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds (1:30).
The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale jade green color, somewhat hazy, with some medium sized particles. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, cooked dark green vegetables, and seaweed. The body is light, with a somewhat brothy, smooth texture. The taste is sweet and bitter, with notes of fresh grass, cooked dark green vegetables, seaweed, and sea mist. The aftertaste is grassy and very lightly floral, and a grassy and clean essence can be felt on the breath.
Steep time was shortened to one minute on the second infusion. The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of pale jade green, again somewhat hazy, and more fine particles. The aroma remains strong, with scents of fresh grass, cooked dark green vegetables, and seaweed. The body remains light, and the texture is brothy and smooth. The taste is nearly identical to the first infusion, with a nice balance of bitter and sweet characters. The aftertaste remains grassy and very lightly floral.
Infusion time was increased to one minute fifteen seconds on the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of jade green than the first and second infusions, with a slight gold tint. The haziness is lighter, but still remains, and the particles are finer than in the second infusion. The aroma has lightened some, and has scents of fresh grass and sea mist. The body and texture have lightened some. The taste has also lightened, and retains notes of fresh grass, seaweed, sea mist, and light cooked green vegetable. The vegetable taste has lightened significantly. The aftertaste remains grassy, but the essence is more floral than previous infusions. The third infusion has plenty of character, and I expect a fourth infusion, and less confidently a fifth infusion to produce acceptable results.
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh dark green color. The leaves are all medium fragments. There are no whole leaves or stems in the mix. The leaves are very soft, saturated, and silky to the touch, and quite easy to tear. These leaves are definitely suitable for consumption. The aroma has scents of cooked dark green vegetables, seaweed, and a very light and sweet floral hint.
The Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea lived up to the reputation of having strong and well balanced flavors. For newcomers to Japanese green teas, I would probably recommend not starting with this tea, as it is quite powerful. For those who are familiar with Japanese green teas and looking to take their taste experience to the next level, this is certainly an excellent tea to try. People who like vegetal taste in green tea will truly enjoy this product.
I plan to hold on to some of this product for a few months. I must admit that my taste for the various forms and harvests of Japanese sencha is underdeveloped, as I have a difficult time identifying the differences between this Shincha, and later harvests of Sencha. The best way to train the mind and palate is to do side by side comparisons, and that I will do later this year.
Thank you to Yunomi.us anad Matcha Latte Media for providing an excellent platform to discover Japanese teas. Cheers!
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