Here is an interesting Japanese green tea that I have not opened in a few months, but certainly deserves a review. This is the Shincha Hatsuzumi (1st Flush 2014) Green Tea. This product was purchased from Yunomi.US. You may find the website by clicking here.
This Shincha Green Tea was produced on Tanegashima Island, one of the Osumi Islands, in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan. Tanegashima Island is fairly flat topographically, with the highest point being measured at 282 meters (925 feet) above sea level. Tanegashima Island produces little tea in comparison with other growing areas of Japan, so the May to Spring Shincha season produces the best quality sencha style teas coming from Tanegashima Island. As is common with Japanese teas, identifying the exact estate that provided the tea leaves in this product is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Especially considering that the leaves may have originated from several estates on Tanegashima Island.
As mentioned in earlier posts, Shincha is the Japanese green tea version of a first flush, or first harvest of a new growing year, tea. The aromas and tastes are generally known for being more delicate and complex than later harvests of the same growing year.
The retail package has been opened, and a sweet, grassy fragrance is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform fresh and dark forest green color, with a slight gleam. The leaves are all small leaf fragments, with a considerable amount of crumbs. The leaves are machine rolled, and there are few stems in the mix. The tea leaves are steamed. The leaves are thin, needle shaped, and crack easily. The aroma has scents of fresh cut grass, very light brown sugar, and light dry seaweed.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to about 140°F to 160°F (60°C to 70°C). Steep first infusion for 1:00 to 1:30 minutes, second infusion for 0:30 minutes, then add 15 to 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion. Expect to get three or four infusions out of the same serving of leaves.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright yellowish-jade green color, with a slight haze, and very fine particulate. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, steamed spinach, steamed asparagus, and steamed seaweed. The body is light-medium, with light yet creamy, rich texture. There is a pleasant moderate umami character. The taste has notes of sweet grass, steamed spinach and asparagus, and steamed seaweed. The aftertaste is grassy, and a pleasing flowery essence is left on the breath.
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with the stems having a lighter fresh green color. The leaves are all small fragments. The leaves have a very soft, smooth, delicate texture. I can easily imagine putting soy sauce on these leaves and eating them for a post tea snack. The aroma continues the scents of fresh wet grass, steamed asparagus and spinach, and steamed seaweed.
The Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea impressed me the most with its unique texture, having both a light-medium body, but a rich and creamy feel. It is difficult to explain, but it was certainly different than sencha teas from later harvests. The aromas and tastes are very fresh and invigorating, promoting refreshment, relaxation, as well as a sense of heightened awareness. This green tea embodies all of the positive characteristics that Japanese green teas are so well respected for.
Thank you to Ian Chun at Yunomi.Us for working so hard to bring Japanese tea farmers and the rest of the tea consuming world together in one marketplace. Cheers!