Tea Culture,  Tea Reviews

The Taste of Spring: Parsing our the Subtleties Our 2024 Hashiri Shincha

The Hashiri Shincha is back. Our other teas are on the way as well, but the Hashiri Shincha is one of the first that we receive during the year. Minimally processed, the Hashiri Shincha really gives you the taste of Mother Nature and, specifically, the Honyama Region where it is grown. This year our Hashiri Shincha is steamed in the asamushi style, giving it the classic look of a sencha.

What is Shincha?

Basically, shincha is the first of the first flush tea. When the tea farmer has determined that the leaves are ready to be picked, these leaves (which have been gathering nutrients for the whole year) are then picked and made into tea. All first flush tea is technically shincha, but there is a culture of making tea from the first leaves of the first flush and minimally processing them to preserve the flavor of the terroir of that area. This is the case with our Hashiri Shincha.

Shincha also typically isn’t always blended with other shincha. You can taste the difference between one year’s tea and another for this reason, where as sencha and matcha, for example, are made of a blend of different leave material get a somewhat of a consistent flavor year after year. While these tea styles may be celebrated for their consistency, shincha is usually celebrated for it’s uniqueness. It perhaps serves as a reflection of how the natural environment has changed over the last year and how this has affected the untouched tea plants.

The Tasting Experience

It being made of the young leaves of the tea plant, the tea is able to keep its needle shape quite well. The taste and aroma of this tea is quite interesting. It being “minimally processed” means that it goes through a very light roasting. Sencha in general will go through a light roasting process to mellow out the flavor of the tea but the Hashiri Shincha goes through even less of a roasting. This lack of a roast preserves the greener flavors of the tea. It also preserves the tasting notes that remind one of the place where it came from.

Interestingly enough, tasting this tea might actually remind one of the smell of the mountainous air, the soil, the smell of the tea leaves and surrounding grass. Drinking this tea sort of feels like tasting a moment in time, like tasting a moment of Spring itself. That is not to say that it tastes like literal dirt or wood but, more so, reminds one of nature. It is slightly sweet, slightly savory, a little grassy. These notes are carried by this umami profile that then turns into a refreshing dryness in the mouth. The feeling of the tea could be described as feeling very light, clear, and clean. You really get a sense of the hands that went into producing this tea when you drink it and see the opened leaves. We hope you get a chance to pick some up before it is sold out.

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