May 2022 Newsletter
Shincha - The New Tea of 2022.
We are grateful to receive a lot of questions from our customers about teas and other things Japanese. Please keep these questions coming as we really enjoy hearing from you.
One topic we get asked about quite often, especially at this time of year is Shincha. Shincha is an important topic in the world of Japanese Tea and before introducing some of the new teas this month we thought we would discuss Shincha in general.
The term Shincha literally means ‘New Tea’ (’新茶). Shin is new in Japanese, and Cha is tea. Each year there is an anticipation of the new harvest and the tea that comes from it - this is called Shincha.
Shincha tea is the tea made from the first harvest – the first flush, of the season. The term only applies to tea that enters the market from the first harvest in May until July. Other tea that is still available until July in a given year is typically produced in the previous year, so the Shincha name denotes that this is the new tea of the current growing season.
Shincha is basically the same as the Japanese term 'Ichibancha' - "first tea" and is distinguished by its fresh flavor and sweetness.
The harvest begins in Kagoshima and continues north as the warmer weather spreads.
The tea plants have been dormant over the winter months and as the Spring arrives the plants burst into action. All of that built-up goodness in the plant permeates the leaves and the freshest tea of the year becomes available.
The tea industry in Japan now uses and continues to improve modern technology for keeping teas fresh for a long time. So this new tea, along with the tea still available from the previous year is available to be enjoyed until next season's Shincha starts the whole process again.
We introduce two Shicnha teas below, most of the Shincha tea we will provide early on is Sencha. For 2022 Gyokuro tea we typically do not release the new harvest Gyokuro until late summer. This is because Gyokuro needs time to develop its flavor and it improves as it matures.
Please see two of the 2022 Shincha teas we have available below.
Our Shincha is available now and more new shipments are scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks. In previous years our shincha sold out very quickly so this year we have reserved lots of tea to afford us a good stock.
We have worked to get supplies of two of our most popular special editions:
Sencha NAMA and Sencha unsorted Aratsukuri are available. Those two teas are very characteristic of the freshness anticipated in Shincna and have a unique character and taste profile that makes them special.
This is the most grassy-tasting Sencha we have and most the grassy tasting we know of in the market.. Fukamushi deep steamed and dried at low temperature. Processing the tea leaves at a lower than the typical temperature for Sencha retains the grassy freshness of the taste.
The richness of Umami comes from the cultivar and cultivation method. Usually, Japanese tea plants are harvested three or more times during the year. This tea is from plants that are harvested only two times, the plants are cut back aggressively to ensure strong growth in the trunk which leads to a vibrant umami taste.
If you like rich robust very satisfying sweetness, try this unsorted Sencha Aratsukuri Premium.
May in Japan is also the time for Wisteria.
Readers of these newsletters know we are very partial to Cherry Blossom. Every month, we try to squeeze Cherry Blossom in somewhere, but this month is a bit different.
In May, the beginning of Spring, we not only have the new tea to savor but also Japan moves its flower focus to Wisteria.
Wisteria is called Fuji in Japanese. Wisteria is considered a symbol of long life or immortality in Japan. Wisteria plants are long-living and can commonly live over 100 years. There are many festivals in Japan at this time of year celebrating wisteria. This picture above is from Ashikaga Flower Park, Tochigi and the one below is of a wisteria tunnel that are also popular throughout Japan.
We do not have a good excuse to mention wisteria in our tea newsletter. Still, we hope you enjoy the images and can picture yourself lounging in a comfortable chair amongst the flowers enjoying some 2022 Shincha or even some iced sencha tea when it gets hot in the summer.