First Pick or First flush ?
Understanding the variations
In terms of the tea product itself, shincha can refer to two things:
1) A specially produced first flush tea called “shincha,” a sencha-esque lightly steamed tea that is released as soon as harvest begins. It is only available for a short while after the start of picking season. It may also be called 初摘み(hatsuzumi, first pick) or 走り茶 (hashiricha, early tea), referring to how fast and early it is available.
2) First flush tea or ichibancha made from the first harvest leaves. This difference is based on time and terminology. For example, our producer Koga san sent us her 2023 specialty Shincha in the middle of April, but will be sending shincha, aka ichibancha, of existing tea types (Minako, for example) later in May.
Both are made from the first tender leaves picked in the first harvest. Shincha is highly sought for its taste and exclusivity. It is said to be higher in amino acids and theanine than second-harvest tea.
The reasoning is that these new buds have a longer time to accumulate nutrients over the winter as they slowly grow. Shincha is prized for its rich umami, sweet flavor, and a powerful green color. If you haven't tasted it yet, have a try and enjoy this very short tasting experience :
IKKYU'S SHINCHA 2023