Japan doesn't leave much time to relax. As soon as the breathtaking cherry blossom season is over, comes the start of a new time of year — Shincha season.
Shincha (new tea), Ichibancha (first tea), first flush.
For many Japanese tea lovers out there May is basically a holy month!
Tea connoisseurs flock to the markets to secure for themselves some of the year’s limited supply of first flush.
Many consider Shincha to be the best of all Japanese teas due to its exquisite taste and limited yearly quantity. Thereby they are not opposed to paying the corresponding price.
Most Shincha harvests are available for no more than two months after being picked since these teas do not get refrigerated and do not go into storage. Instead, they are sold immediately.
Shincha is essentially the first tea harvest of the year, where only the first spring shoots are picked. If these shoots were not picked and left to grow longer, then it would become sencha — Japan’s most popular tea variety.
Yet the reason why Shincha is so highly prized is because during the winter dormancy period the tea bushes stock up on nutrients and theanine (amino acids).
Traditionally, drinking Shincha that was harvested on Hachiju-Hachiya or the eighty-eighth night counting from the beginning of spring (which falls on May 2nd) is believed to bring you good health throughout the following year.
Around this time many Shincha tea festivals are held around prominent tea growing regions in Japan, like Shizuoka.
A good Shincha is characterized by its most vibrant green color, fresh leafy taste, and unmistakable sweetness due to the fact that the tea had no time to develop a high caffeine content or astringency.
At Path of Cha we are proud to carry a very limited supply of this year’s Shincha from Kakegawa region in Shizuoka prefecture, a part of the designated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Site (GIAHS). We can’t guarantee that the supply will last long, so try it while you can. With Shincha, the fresher — the better. And since the supply only comes around once every year, no batch is ever the same.
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