Shincha: Japanese Green Tea from the First Flush

ShinchaShincha (新茶, new tea) sounds like a type of Japanese tea and is easily confused with sencha, but it has more to do with the time of harvest.

You’ll find that the year of harvest is usually included, such as “shincha 2013″.

Shincha enthusiasts are eager to buy it because of it’s limited quantity. However, the price is higher as well.

Although in general shincha refers to first-flush sencha, there’s shincha gyokuro as well.

First Flush, Ichibancha and Shincha

The above terms are closely related. In tea jargon, a “flush” refers to harvest.

There are usually four harvests, with the first flush being the most important one in terms of quality and price. It happens in early spring, but the date changes depending on the region. The leaves had extra time to store nutrients after the winter, that’s why the first harvest is more valuable.

In Japan the leaves from the four flushes are called ichibancha (一番茶), nibancha (二番茶), sanbancha (三番茶) and yonbancha (四番茶). The literal meaning is first, second, third and fourth tea.

Ichibancha and shincha are basically the same. The term shincha is often used when referring to the tea as a product ready to be consumed, while ichibancha is more appropriate when talking about the harvests.

Is shincha any good?

Brewed shinchaThere’s definitely a difference in taste between shincha and just normal sencha. Shincha has a low astringency and bitterness, while having some sweetness.

The reason for this is that it’s rich in amino acids while the catechin and caffeine content is relatively low.

Sencha made with shincha is considered to be the highest grade of sencha, and you should brew it accordingly. If you use too much water, and at a high temperature, you’ll have disappointing results.

Have you tried shincha yet? Not all tea companies sell it, but it’s worth looking for :-).

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