Shincha: Your Guide to Japanese Sencha Green Tea
The world of tea is so much bigger than just your standard black tea or herbal tisane. Within each different type of tea, there are dozens of unique variations that draw out exquisite flavor characteristics and enhance the art of tea drinking. Green teas are no exception. While Japan is known for its vegetal steamed green teas, one particular varietal makes its mark on your taste buds. From a sweet, aromatic flavor to a celebratory cultivation process, here's why shincha green tea will knock your socks off.
What is Shincha?
Shincha is a type of Japanese green tea known as sencha teas. It is made from the tea plant called Camellia sinensis. The word "shincha" in Japanese translates to "new tea". This refers to the fact that the tea is processed during the first harvest – also known as the first flush — of the year. The tea is also known as Ichibancha, which means "first tea" and is distinguished from later harvests that produce teas known as Nibancha for the second harvest and Sanbancha for the third harvest.
As a tea harvested from the first picking, shincha is considered among the highest quality green teas. It's packed with nutrients and flavor components that lend a mild astringency and sweet tasting notes. The fresh flavor is aromatic and has base notes of grassy, vegetal, and umami flavor within a light yellow-colored liquid.
Cultivation of Shincha
This green tea is one of the sun-grown sencha teas. Other sun-grown sencha teas include Genmaicha, bancha, and guricha. They're in contrast to shade-grown teas such as matcha green tea, fukamushi kabusecha, and gyokuro.
Shincha season occurs between April and late May. The season varies on climate and latitude as regions further south including Kagoshima tend to harvest earlier than tea growing regions up north. Shincha tea is typically harvested on the 88th day after the first day of spring based on the Chinese calendar. This Japanese tea harvest is called Hachijuhachiya and typically involves ceremony and celebration in the tea fields. Due to its early harvest, these tea leaves are packed with nutrients including amino acids such as L-theanine, catechins, polyphenols, and flavonoids.
After the leaves are plucked, they're withered in direct sunlight. The withering process is used to remove any moisture content from the tea leaves. Once the leaves are withered to the desired point, the leaves are steam dried to prevent oxidation. The leaves are then rolled and shaped for sale as loose leaf tea.
Types of Shincha
There are many different types of shincha, which are classified mainly based on where they were produced. The main tea-growing regions in Japan that specialize in sencha teas include Shizuoka, Mie, Kagoshima, and Uji.
Shizuoka prefecture produces almost half of Japanese green teas and is highly regarded for its cultivation of sencha fukamushi teas. Kagoshima is the second-largest tea-growing region followed by Mie. Uji in Kyoto prefecture is considered the home of Japanese green tea production and is particularly adept at producing gyokuro and matcha teas.
Shincha Tea: A Green Tea With Sweet Flavor and A High Nutrient Content
Shincha is a type of sencha green tea that is harvested in early spring during the first tea picking. This Japanese green tea is sweeter and more fragrant than other green teas thanks to a high concentration of nutrients found in the tea leaf.
Milder than oolong tea, but stronger than white tea it's a great choice for people who are new to green tea or for connoisseurs looking to expand their flavors when they drink green tea. Brew shincha in your teapot and enjoy this unique varietal of Japanese green teas.