‘Tis the season for Shincha (新茶), or “new tea.” For those unfamiliar, Shincha is a seasonal tea made from leaves of the first harvest of the year. These leaves have had all of fall and winter to absorb nutrients from the soil, so they have the richest, most complex flavor.

New tea leaves peeking out from old winter tea growth

You can easily tell the tender new leaves from the thick, weathered old leaves.

In the northern part of the US, many know the feeling of taking a drive in the countryside and seeing that first fruit stand or truck on the side of the road with buckets full of cherries. No matter how many cherries you eat throughout the year, none of them can compare to the flavor of those first early-summer cherries. This is the feeling the Japanese get when drinking Shincha.

Shincha leaves are processed in the same manner as sencha, but it is their complex, savory-and-sweet flavor that sets them apart. Shincha leaves are also picked much earlier in the leaf’s lifetime than later harvests, so the leaves are soft, tender, and a lustrous shade of green.

The first flush leaves peek through the old winter Japanese green tea plant growth

It’s easy to see the difference in color between the brilliant green new growth and darker leaves from previous years.

We, at Sugimoto America, are pleased to offer three different types of Shincha:

  • Temomi
  • Hashiri
  • Hachiju Hachiya

Temomi Shincha
Temomi Shincha preserves a disappearing tradition in Japanese culture. Once the standard method of tea production, Temomi, or “hand-rolling,” has largely given way to mechanical processing of leaves in Japan. Only a handful of organizations continue this practice in the modern day, and we are proud to preserve this tradition. Every spring, we assemble a team of artisans to make the finest tea of the year. Everything from picking, steaming, drying, and rolling is attended to by hand in the traditional fashion. The result is a tea made of fine-needles that slowly unfurl upon steeping. Please see this blog post for the details of Temomi production.

How Japanese Green tea is Made

Only the most tender leaves of the new growth are hand-picked for Temomi Shincha.

Hashiri Shincha
Hashiri literally means “running” in Japanese, which in this case refers to running to get the first catch or harvest of the season. This tea is produced from very young, soft leaves harvested in late April. Ever take a walk through the woods when the leaves are just budding in a brilliant green bouquet? Can you recall that amazing smell you only get to enjoy one week of the year? Imagine that captured in your cup. This is the taste of spring!

Hachiju Hachiya Shincha
Hachiju Hachiya means “88 nights” and refers to the eighty-eighth day after the start of spring according to the traditional Japanese calendar. Tradition has it that tea picked on the 88th day helps fend off diseases for the following year

Because these teas are seasonal and only produced in April and early May, quantities are limited. Reserve your Shincha at our online store!

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