May is the season of Shincha, the first picked tea of the year. At Uji Kyoto area, tea farmers begin picking tea leaves around Hachiju-hachi ya* in early May and continue for several weeks. It is believed to be the most flavorsome tea picked around the time. The tea leaves is fresh and soft enough to shape beautifully like a sharp needle as processing to final products. You can find it with Sencha or Gyokuro especially!
*Hachiju-hachi ya is the 88th day after Risshun (Feb.4, the first day of spring according to the Chinese calendar), and it is traditionally the day when farmers would begin planting out seeds and transplanting. However, those picked tea in the season’s opening days are considered to be the highest quality of all – and are certainly the most valuable.
Early May is basically said for the season for Shincha as mentioned. This is true but we’d rather say each farmer decides their best time by the kinds of tea, weather/sunlight condition or crop quality. A tea tree stores up special nutrients during cold winter, and when spring comes, fresh leaves that contain a lot of nourishment and more moisture grow up. That means the flavor is very fresh and aromatic. The perfect timing to pluck by skilled hands gives mellower and smoother flavor and aroma; bitter and more grass aroma for the second picked tea or the third. Those leaves become Shincha.
Shincha is certainly the most valuable when you talk about its taste, quality and aroma. Let’s celebrate for Shincha and evaluate the quality in each year!
Younger leaves es have more L-theanine than older ones, while late harvests have each less L-theanine. L-theanine is responsible for the exotic taste of green tea called UMAMI. Some people say it’s the fifth taste wile the four tastes are sweet, sour, bitter and salty. By itself umami is hardly noticeable for most of us, but it balances taste and rounds the total flavor of a dish. Examples of foods high in umami taste are tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce or Parmesan cheese. We’ve all tasted umami without noticing it. Shaded tea like Gyokuro, high-grade Sencha and Matcha are a good source of L-theanine. So is younger leaves(shincha) Sencha!
SENCHA TEA FOR THREE:
How to brew
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