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SHINO: Tea Tasting by Alex Ahearn

16
December
2021

Name of the Product: SHINO (shop here)
Type of tea: KAMAIRICHA
Producer: Akizuki Kenji of the Ureshino Southern Kamairicha Tea Industry Association 
Location: Ureshino City, Saga prefecture, northeastern Kyushu, Japan 
Harvest: Shincha — May 2021
Awards: Best Kamairicha in 2019, 2020

Read about the Ureshino Southern Kamairicha Tea Industry Association below.  

In 2001, the Ureshino Southern Kamairicha Tea Industry Association was founded by Akizuki san and three friends to preserve the processing techniques of making Kamairicha. Kamairicha’s processing technique is unlike those used to make other Japanese teas, and the tea is pan-fired in a technique which is traditionally used in Chinese tea processing. Now, Akizuki san and his friends produce high-quality, competition-winning Kamairicha together, and have won many first place prizes at the National Tea Fair. 


Curled leaves from the pan frying process.
An old and almost forgotten technique accounting only for 2% of production in Japan.

Enjoy this tea like Akizuki san! !  

Akizuko san’s recommended steeping parameters 

80°C (176°F) water
6g (~2 teaspoons) tea 
200ml (~6.8 fl oz) vessel 
60-second steep 

Akizuki san and his three friends spent years honing their craft and produced this refined and elegant Kamairicha. As I opened the package, pungent vegetal notes filled the air. The aroma of dry leaves is reminiscent of roasted zucchini, roasted corn, and bok choy. I smelled the leaves again as I scaled out a portion to prepare, and richer notes of roasted chard and nori filled my nose, hinting at the tea’s depth and complexity. I started to heat up my water and admired the tea’s curled, twisted, deep green leaves. I warmed my kyusu and cup with my warmed water, and poured the dry leaves into the warmed vessel. Notes of roasted corn, chard, and roasted Brussels sprouts escaped the kyusu as I gently moved it side to side. 

Then, I poured the water into the kyusu and closed the lid. I decanted the liquor into my cup and smelled the wet leaves, and noticed similar notes of roasted corn and roasted Brussels sprouts. The pan-firing of this tea was skillfully done and, as I smelled the leaves, more characteristics emerged. This tea and its golden green liquor had more to offer beyond this first steep. I slowly lifted the cup to my mouth and took in the lightly roasted vegetable notes of its comforting aroma.

The liquor had a medium body as it passed my lips and coated my mouth. Its characteristics were very balanced with vegetal notes that turn into a lingering sweetness. The mild bitterness of the tea is subdued by its sweet finish which speaks to the craftsmanship of its pan-firing. The tea’s subtle umami characteristics were carried by notes of steamed chestnut, cooked asparagus, and sweet corn which developed as I enjoyed the tea. 

Perfect golden color for this multiple awarded kamairicha

I waited a minute to let the liquor cool slightly and tasted the tea again. The tea’s body was more coating and its roasted vegetable characteristics were more forward with a subtle bitterness. As I steeped the tea two more times, the tea’s characteristics and complexity continued to develop as the leaves unfurled. The recommended steeping parameters of Akizuki san highlight the tea’s depth and complexity. This tea is made with the Yabukita cultivar. 

Enjoy SHINO at any time of the day! 

Hot preparation:

If you would like to enjoy this tea by itself, you can experience all of the tea’s characteristics and complexities by following Akizuki san’s steeping parameters. You may steep the tea another two times with 80°C (176°F) water, for 30 seconds. More of the tea’s roasted vegetal characteristics, bitterness, and astringency will develop over the additional steeps.

The underlying sweetness and umami characteristics of the tea balance with the pronounced bitterness. For making a lighter preparation of this tea, I would recommend preparing the tea using shorter steeping times of about 30-to-45-seconds. You may steep the tea up to three times and will notice more aromatics and lightened characteristics with this preparation method. The tea’s characteristics develop slowly with each steep. 

Dry leaves of SHINO, first, second and third steep
© Alex Ahearn

Cold brew preparation:

This tea can be enjoyed as a cold brew made in a 750ml (~25.4 fl oz) cold brew bottle or a pitcher. This preparation method highlights the underlying umami characteristics and sweetness of the tea that are not as apparent when prepared hot. Put 8-10g (2-3 teaspoons) of tea in the bottom of the bottle. Fill the bottle to the top with cold or room temperature filtered water.

Place the bottle in the refrigerator and allow the tea to steep for 8-12 hours. You can taste test the tea throughout its steeping and enjoy it at any point to your liking. After the desired amount of time has passed, strain and enjoy the tea. Store in refrigerator up to one day after preparing. 

Food pairing recommendations 

You may enjoy this by itself or paired with a light salad dressed with oil, salt, and pepper. After enjoying the tea, the very tender leaves can be added to a salad or made into a salad themselves by sprinkling a small amount of toasted sesame seeds and adding a little bit of soy sauce. The tea also pairs well with rice dishes and dishes with roasted vegetables. 

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