In the spring, if we might paraphrase the great poet Alfred Lord Tennyson just a bit, a tea lover’s fancy may turn to thoughts of shincha. Japan is renowned for a number of excellent varieties of green tea and, of these, shincha is considered by many to be one of the best.
A Japanese term that translates to “new tea,” shincha (which is sometimes referred to as ichinbancha) is essentially just that, a tea produced from the first of several harvests of each year. The first harvest of the year – the first flush, to put it in tea terms – comes to Japan in spring, sometime between late April and early May.
The sencha tea harvested during the first flush are only available for a limited time, often as little as two months. This may correspond to a higher cost, but for most shincha fans it’s a small price to pay for the prime flavor and freshness. Of course, because it is a seasonal product, shincha bought between August and mid-April may not always be a good choice.
In addition to freshness and flavor, another quality common to shincha is the bright green color of the liquid. For evidence of this interesting trait, as well as some more information about shincha itself, refer to these reviews of the Yukata Midori and Uji Kirameki varieties posted at the lavishly illustrated Tea Nerd site.
For additional shincha tasting notes, refer to Eric’s reviews of 2007 and 2008 varieties of shincha at the Me and My Tea blog. Even more shincha reviews and information are available at The Official Shincha Review Topic of 2008, located at the TeaChat forum and at my own tea site.
Don’t forget to check out William’s site, Tea Guy Speaks.