New Tea Available: Japanese Shincha
Posted on June 28 2021
We are excited to announce we've just received limited amounts of 2021 Japanese Shincha! Shop Now
What is Shincha?
Shincha is the first harvest of tea leaves after the dormant winter months. Shin means new and cha means tea. This new tea is highly sought after and is only available once per year. Once it is sold out, more will not be available until next year, when the first tea buds of the year bloom again.
Why is Shincha so Sought After?
The first flush, or the first round of tea harvesting, is the highest quality tea possible. The taste, smell, and colors of this tea are unlike any other. It is sweeter than other flushes and the taste and aroma have been described as fresh and vibrant, like the smell of fresh rain in a green forest. When they’re picked, these early-blooming leaves are very fine and delicate. After they go through the careful and natural processing methods to turn it into tea, it will brew up an outstanding bright green.
The CEO of Stash Tea Nami Yamamoto, whose family has been in the tea business for 330 years, said,
“Shincha is always the first tea to hit Japanese markets in a new year, and it’s usually the first to run out. Since my family has been in the green tea business for centuries, we have our own traditions around tea. Every year we look forward to seeing what this year’s Shincha will taste like. This year is no exception."
From Fresh Tea Leaves to Tea
The time of harvest depends on the region where the tea is grown. The changing weather, rainfall, temperatures and number of sunny days all affect when the first new tea will be ready to harvest. There’s no way to know when the tea will be ready for harvest unless you are one of the farmers checking in on the tea leaves day by day.
Tea production is very modern and uses machinery throughout the entire process, from picking the tea leaves to the natural processing methods. There is a huge demand for quality Shincha, so it is critical to harvest quickly while the tea leaves are in an optimal state. The machines allow farmers to produce higher volumes in an attempt to meet the high demands while maintaining a high level of quality.
Japan’s spring time is very similar in the calendar year to the U.S. so the Shincha from Japan was harvested in April. It was grown in Kagoshima, Japan, which is located at the southwestern tip of the island of Kyushu.
If you visit Japan you might notice that the fields are much larger than typical tea fields. The size of the fields and the plant's quick growth cycle make it best for machine work instead of hand picking. While the harvesting season may be very short, the machines are able to produce a high yield.
Once you smell it, you’ll agree: one of the best parts of Shincha is the fresh aroma. In order to keep the fragrance as vibrant as possible, the tea needs to be processed very delicately. As described by one of the Japanese production workers, to fully retain the flavor of Shincha, they do not use an open flame during the firing process.
The factory that naturally manufactures Shincha avoids the extremely strong steaming process that is used for some other types of green teas. Sophisticated machines will use a gentle blow of warm air on the leaf while a mechanical paddle of sorts lightly tosses the tea in a continuous motion (like hands). Since high levels of heat are avoided, Shincha contains more water content than the typical Japanese green tea. For the Japanese Shincha, once the initial processing is complete, the suppliers ship the product to Stash Tea for us to complete the final natural processing steps.
How to Brew Shincha
The methods for brewing Shincha green tea are a little different than regular green teas. It is suggested to use significantly lower temperatures, in order to avoid harming or burning this type of green tea, 70 °C (158 °F) is the sweet spot for brewing, and no higher than 80 °C (176 °F)."
- Bring fresh water to a boil and let it sit and cool for approximately one minute.
- Use the hot water to heat a small teapot, swirling it around the teapot and then emptying it.
- Measure the Shincha into the teapot, using one gram of tea for every 6 ounces of water.
- Add the hot water to the leaves and let them steep for no more than 3 minutes.
- Pour into small cups and sip slowly to savor the unique fragrance and flavor.
Another enjoyable property of Shincha is the ability to resteep the tea. Some people even prefer the second or third round of brewing, since each steep brings out noticeable differences in the flavor and aroma.