Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shincha Kumpu - Day 1

Tea: Shincha Kumpu
Vendor: Den's Tea
Price: $19.75 / 2oz.
Source: Honyama, Shizuoka, Japan
Vendor Description: Shincha Kunpu is *an Eighty-Eighth (88th)* Night Shincha that is lightly steamed. It has a great woodsy aroma and a natural sweetness like very fresh green vegetables.

*Eighty-Eighth (88th) Night Shincha refers to Shincha picked on the 88th day after the first day of spring in the traditional Japanese calendar. It is around May 2nd. The Eighty-Eighth (88th) Night – “Hachijuhachiya” in Japanese - is a special day in Japanese agriculture since it is considered about the time all the plants and vegetation begin to sprout.
Also 88th Night Shincha has been celebrated since the old-times as a good fortune beverage among the Japanese. The legend has been handed down that the young energetic leaf of the tea plant will bring you eternal health and long life.

About This Tea: This is the first of the long awaited Shincha teas. For those who don't know what Shincha is, Shincha is basically the first of the first harvest of the year for Japanese teas. Shincha is processed differently then regular sencha which gives it a shorter shelf life, but an interesting flavor. Because of that shincha is primarily available from harvest into early summer. After that shincha starts to lose its fresh flavor and is not as good. Because of the special nature of shincha I am going to do multiple reviews of the same tea. I am going to be a bit more detailed in the particular details of them and experiment a bit each time to try to see what I can find in each shincha. So today is the first of a few days of Shincha Kumpu

Leaf Mass: 4.96g

Leaf: The leaf for this tea was rather surprising, the leaf had some very long single needles in it, longer than any other Japanese green tea that I have seen. They were all very neatly rolled, very uniform in diameter, just varying in length. The leaf had a very fruity aroma to it, which reminded me of the smell of cutting into a fresh nectarine or peach.

1st Infusion Parameters: 6 oz water, 165 F, 90s infusion

1st Infusion: The first infusion had a very light and clear color to it, the tea was a bright green, but pale. It had an almost radiant luminescent green color to it. The flavor of the tea was smooth with a light sweetness. It had a clean bitterness that wasn't so strong that it was heavily noticed, but enough to leave the mouth refreshed. The refreshing bitterness also left an appropriate light astringency. The flavor was very smooth and could be felt on the center of the tongue, it hinted at a light seaweed flavor.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 6 oz water, 175 F, 30s infusion

2nd Infusion: This infusion had a bolder green color to it, the color was stronger, but still light and had that radiant quality to it. It was slightly murky now, but not so much that it wasn't still readily transparent. The flavor felt now like it was more concentrated on the back of the tongue instead of the middle. The flavor felt as though it was a bit lighter, but still retained a very clean and crisp flavor. I didn't sense the same bitterness as I did with the first infusion, this resulted in a smoother more relaxed flavor.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 6 oz water, 185 F, 30s

3rd Infusion: Like the second infusion this one was slightly murky, but lighter in color. The shade of green took a turn for a more yellow hue, resulting in a more yellow green color than the pure green of the first two. The flavor was even lighter this time, but it felt brisker. There was definitely a stronger sense of astringency at this point due to the warmer water, but the flavor was still very clean and refreshing.

4th Infusion Parameters: 6 oz water, 185 F, 2 minutes

4th Infusion: The color of the tea changed to a very light green now. The flavor was very different. The flavor was very weak, but it had changed significantly from before. It was more akin to a normal sencha than the shincha that I had been tasting. It was weak to the point where it felt like slightly flavored water. The tea had pretty much given what it had.

Rating: To be determined after further experimentation

Conclusion: For my first of the 2008 shinchas this proved to be quite the experience. The tea seems like it has much to offer, and lots of nuances to experiment with. The flavor is light and tricky to coax out. At the same time the flavor is very enjoyable and relaxing. I look forward to trying this out more.


Bamboo Forest said...

"It had an almost radiant luminescent green color to it."

Pentox, I find this is one of the remarkable aspects of shincha. Some shinchas seem to look radio active. It's something to truly behold, such a delight.

Salsero said...

Nice work on describing this sencha. I find sencha just about the most ethereal class of tastes to describe, but you have done an admirable job, as has bamboo forest in his TeaChat Official Shincha Review Topic of 2008 post.