"Shin" means new, and "Cha" means tea. Shincha, often called the first flush tea, is made from the tea picked during the first harvest in the spring. The first harvest of the year, usually from April to May, produces the highest quality tea in Japan.
What is so special about Shincha?
During the winter the tea plant goes dormant and slowly pulls nutrients from the soil. The first leaves of the season are rich with these nutrients, including amino acids and catechins. These enhance the flavor and aroma of this first-harvest tea. Shincha has a bright, luminescent green color, strong aroma and pronounced sweetness.
Are most of your teas are Shincha?
Yes, eventually, most of Den’s Tea teas will be made from Shncha - the first flush tea produced in April to May. After producing, we import them from Japan, so our regular teas will be available with this year’s Shincha in early summer.
So how is seasonal Shincha different from regular teas if they are all made of Shincha anyway?
The key is roasting process. There is a roasting process to produce most types of Japanese teas. This process not only adds a nutty flavor to the green tea, but also takes out the moisture so that the quality of the tea lasts longer. But the roasting process might erase the grassy or fishy aroma that is also an appreciated flavor for Japanese green teas. For Shincha, we roast as little as possible to leave the natural grassy flavor. This can be done only for seasonal Shincha since we assume that you will drink it quickly. I recommend you consume it within a month of arrival at your door. You may see some degraded quality if you try to keep it longer because the moisture level of Shincha is higher than regular teas. Thus, Shincha tastes fresher and has a natural flavor that doesn't exist in regular teas. That’s why we import our seasonal Shincha by air shipment.
How is Hashiri Shincha different from Kunpu?
Both Hashiri Shicha and Shincha Kunpu are lightly steamed Senchas. But Hashiri Shincha is made of even younger leaves than Shincha Kunpu. You will find that Hashiri has a fresher or earthy flavor versus Kunpu which has a more traditional Sencha taste, though still very fresh. Those very young leaves are processed as little as possible and they are like the Beaujolais Nouveau wines of France.
Den’s Favorite Brewing
We recommend using 160F water and infusing for 90 sec. This way, good Umami and mellow greenish flavors are extracted by the lower water temperature. However, you can also brew with hotter water, say 200F for 45 sec. This way, the wild grassy flavor comes on strong and you can taste the deep nature. I recommend you try brewing it both ways.
When you brew Shincha you may notice what looks like white dust on the
surface. It is not dust at all, but a substance that grows on new buds
and leaves called “Mouji”. Mouji shows up only on very young buds and
tea leaves. It protects the new growth from the sun and insects and also
helps maintain moisture and temperature. Mouji disappears when tea
leaves are grown enough that they no longer this protection. Mouji in
your cup is safe to consume and proof that your Shincha is made from
young buds and leaves. So If you see something like dust in your cup,
please don’t worry, it’s just one more gift of mother nature!