The Shincha 2018 is Here!


The first tea of 2018 is here!

Shincha, the green tea from the first harvest of the year, is now available and we're all excited about it. Warm temperatures in Kyushu throughout the key growth period of the new leaves made it possible to start harvesting the leaves earlier than on average. All professionals agree that 2018 is an exceptional year for green tea, and we are happy to confirm it!

During a visit to Chiran (Kagoshima), Aldo had the chance to hand-roll newly harvested fresh leaves to make his own tea. He also had the privilege of seeing the hard work of the producers in the region. The tremendous dedication and work of the entire community of producers struck him. From dawn to dusk, 7 DAYS A WEEK, for weeks, teams and specialists took turns to produce a premium tea with the best leaves of the year. The first leaves transformed into tea are also brought as an offering to the main shinto temple of the area, accompanied by prayers for an abundant and successful harvest. 

Did you know? For all premium quality teas, tea fields should not be more than a 30 minute drive away from the processing plant to guarantee their freshness, and to stop the oxidation process that starts right from the moment the tea leaves are cut. All teas made with first harvest leaves are called 'Shincha', because this word simply means 'new tea'. But because of its quality and taste, it's usually sencha that is celebrated and enjoyed under this name. IKKYU offers a selection of the first sencha of the year from several of our producers on our online shop (available gradually depending on producers). To celebrate this, we packed our teas in beautiful red washi paper, adorned with the famous cranes of Japan, symbols of longevity and peace. We wish you an excellent tasting!

Here are some pictures taken during this beautiful trip to Minami-Kyushu in Chiran area. It was a hot but magnificent day, and nothing beats the feeling of being surrounded by the smell of fresh green tea leaves throughout the day. Next time you open one of our tea bags, have another look at the pictures ! 

Green tea field in Chiran, Kagoshima, southern Japan, before the first harvest of the year.
One of the tea fields we visited.

Tea harvesting machine picking up tea leaves during the first harvest of the year in Chiran, Kagoshima, Japan.
Harvesting machines, these are actually very very precise (to the millimeter !). Chiran hold harvest machine contests.

Close-up on tea leaves before the first harvest of 2018 in a tea field in Chiran, Kagoshima, Japan
These are about to be cut in a few minutes, and then directly sent to the processing factory. The whole process from harvest to the "aracha" stage lasts only 6 hours.

Close-up on a hand holding a single tea tree leaf in a green tea field in Chiran, Kagoshima, Japan, during the first harvest of the year.
Even the color is soothing.

Matcha ice cream topped with matcha powder in a tea shop in Minami-Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan.
Oh, well, after 12 cups of green tea tasting, why not continue with a matcha ice-cream with matcha powder on top of it?

Hands rolling tea leaves to make green tea in Chiran area, Kagoshima, Japan.
After that we went hands on and rolled our own green tea leaves. Underneath, the paper is "washi" hand-made paper.

Hand-rolled green tea leaves after heating, during the transformation process.
After rolling, we heated the leaves as the final process (and of course tasted it :) 

Scenic view of Mt. Kaimondake in Minami-Kyushu region, Kagoshima prefecture, south of Japan.
As always this incredible scenery... now sit down just over there and have a cup of tea... take your time.


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