If you are a fan of Japanese Green Teas, you much be familiar with Sencha tea one of the most famous Japanese green teas, making up about 80% of the country’s green tea production. Sencha tea unline Gyokuro tea is fully grown in the sun and after harvesting, the leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation (unlike the pan-frying method used with Chinese teas) and then rolled, shaped and dried.
There are different grades of Sencha tea depending on factors such as the location of the plantation, the quality of the leaves and the processing of them. Undoubtedly, the finest Sencha and most delicious of all is “Shincha“. Shincha tea is the first pick of the harvest and literally means “new tea”.
In this post, I will introduce you to everything you need to know about Shincha tea, a green tea that you definitely have to try if you are a green tea lover.
What is Shincha
Shincha or ichibancha means “new tea” and it comes from the first flush of sencha of the year. The term “shincha” is generally used to emphasize that it is that year’s earliest tea, and is timely and seasonal. Kocha, or “old tea” is the opposite term, referring to tea left over from the previous year. In Japan, tea picking begins from the south and gradually moves to the north when the weather starts warming up in the spring. The tea plants store nutrients during the cold winter months and the tender young leaves contain concentrated nutrients when they sprout in spring.
Each year, the first harvest of Japanese Green Tea is cause for celebration in Japan and among green tea lovers around the world!
The Shincha season is from early April to late May, depending on the location of the plantation. Specifically, its harvesting begins the 88th day after Setsubun which falls around February 4 and is considered according to Japanese tradition the start of spring in Japan and the beginning of the sexagenary cycle.
For this reason, when you drink Sencha you are to enjoy a year of good health.
After being specially selected and carefully picked by farmers’ skilled hands, these precious leaves are steamed for a few seconds and then rolled and dried. Shincha tea leaves have a dark green color and needle-like shape and are extremely rare (especially outside of Japan). The earliest batch, from southern Japan, is available to the market around late April through May and although it is very popular in Japan, outside of the country it is available in very limited amounts.
Taste & Aroma of Shincha
Shincha is characterized by the fresh aroma of the young tea leaves and it’s sweet, delicate and grassy flavor with fragrant aroma and flowery notes. Unlike other green teas, this green tea is relatively low in catechins and caffeine which are responsible for the bitterness and astringency of tea and it has a higher content of amino acids and vitamins. This is why this it is widely considered by far one of the finest green teas in the world!
To make Shincha green tea it is better to use a Japanese tea pot with a 200-300 ml capacity but any teapot will work fine. Put 2 tablespoons of leaves in the teapot and then add the hot but not boiling water into it. The ideal temperature of the water should be 170°F. Make sure your water is not hotter that that or your tea will be bitter. Let steep for 2 minutes and then pour your tea into cups. Your brewed liquid should have a golden green color.
Have I convinced you try this marvelous green tea? Believe me this outstanding green tea deserves your attention!
If you are interested in trying it, you can find Shizuoka Shincha of superior quality here! This shincha (referred to as a generic Sencha but is the first pick) is lightly steamed and has an amazingly exotic flavor and fragrance to offer with peach blossom notes and hints of sweet pea sprouts that will make you will absolutely love!