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Monday, May 12

Tea Review: Japanese Shincha, Hibiki-An

Similar to Beaujolais nouveau, shincha is the first japanese sencha of the season. Typically only the first week or two of picking the new, bright green shoots, shincha is a must have for tea connoisseurs! In my journey through teas, I have gone from first flush Darjeelings of the season, which are light, fruity, and slightly acidic, to various first picks of Assam, Ceylon, and China greens. However, to cup a shincha is to embark on a blissful journey of fresh, green delight!

My two selections are from hibiki-an from Japan. The first (I haven't tried yet) is Farmer's Shin
cha. Available at $26 for 5.64oz. They shipped it in two small, sealed bags. This is great, as it will only last for a month or so before degrading after opening. Once opened, it needs to be stored in a tightly sealed jar, out of light and heat sources. When shincha is processed, it goes through five stages: steaming, drying, shaping, sorting leaves and stems, and drying. The tea leaves that don't go through the final two finishing processes, sorting and drying, are called "Aracha", which means unaffected or minimally processed. Japanese tea farmers have been enjoying "Aracha" for many years - it is the traditional drink for farmers. "Aracha" contains stems, known as "Karigane" and therefore has a natural unprocessed taste. "Karigane" tea stems also make the tea more sweet in flavor.

The second tea, which I tried, is Shincha Fukamushi. It was available at 2.82 oz for $21. I've seen shincha prices vary from $18 to $38+ per oz, so this is on the low side, but still very high quality. When I cut the bag open, I immediately could smell the green, fresh, smell. This tea had almost a minty hint to it! The leaves were a very nice, dark emerald green.

I steeped it in my cute Littlemountaintea.com steeper, which holds an amazing 18oz, which is 3 tea cups worth. I usually use 1.5 teaspoons of tea, and do two infusions per batch. I steeped each infusion for 30 seconds, which were combined in the beaker. The infusion was a medium-light green. Very typical of shincha. The fragrance was very grassy and fresh. I was salivating over this one!

The liquor was amazing. A nice contrast of grassy, mellow, with a nice blend of bitterness. I used 180 degree water, but I think it was a bit too hot. It was more bitter than mellow. Shincha, and most senchas, typically are more mellow with slightly cooler
water. 170-176 should be fine. The second batch I steeped, which was the 3rd and 4th infusions, I used 170 degrees. Again, I steeped each infusion for just 30 seconds. This round was much smoother! Very nice and crisp. The sweetness was more pronounced, yet still crisp. Unfortunately, by this time the fragrance was gone. But very enjoyable. I highly recommend this tea! You can find it at Hibiki-An.com.

2 comments:

christina said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Alessandra

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Vickie said...

I ordered from Hibiki-an on your recommendation and am hooked for life! Have you tried their Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle? It's quality is wonderful. I've sampled the Kuradashi Sencha and Sencha Super Premium teas and the Golden Celebration Gyokuro. All were over the top. Thank you for this lovely find, and the many cups of fantastic tea I've had because of your blog.