Shincha 2020, "the Year of COVID-19"

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vuanguyen
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Sun May 17, 2020 11:44 am

Victoria wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:33 pm

In the past I found the Uji Shincha Kirameki asamushi to be on the lighter side, like a delicious sweet pea liquor. I haven’t tried Yukki-Cha yet, did you order this years 2020 Shincha from them? They have a huge Shincha selection, did you order any others as well? How are they shipping from Japan? Reading the ‘info’ page sounds like the owner is quite combative and has had issues with tea community at large. Ouch.

I’ve also had many very good organic sencha, one in particular I enjoyed all last year into this one too, a Kabusecha from Kagoshima Seicha. The issue discussed with organic teas is that just because it’s organic doesn’t guarantee it will taste better. Regarding O-Cha’s Sae Midori, I’m sipping on it right now and find it very good, elegant and sweet with a few savory notes, it’s just more delicate than past years, very good though imo 🍃. How are you steeping yours?
@Victoria I have drank almost all of his teas throughout the years. They are all good. I don't remember anything bad. However, these are two teas that I buy every years because they are simply...spectacular:

1) Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori
extremely sweet and very aromatic
less umami than the O-cha Sae Midori but if I want umami, I grab the kabusecha or gyokuro

2) Organic Miyazaki Oolong Tea Kuchinashi
Now who would have thought the Japanese has good oolong tea. This is a very special and unique tea. One of the most intensely aromatic teas I have ever encountered. I would put it up against any of the best oolong teas out there. It's much cheaper only because it's machine harvest.

Yes...from my interaction with him over the years, it is true that the owner is a little eccentric :) For example, he does not publish my "average" reviews of his other teas. However, I think he is just running a business and trying to make a living. The online community can be brutal :(

As for my brewing of Japanese sencha:
6gm per 120 ml ( 1st brew 170F for 60sec; 2nd brew 170 F for 30 sec; 3rd brew 180 F for 90sec; 4th brew 190 F for 2min; 5th brew 212F for 3 min)

I tried the O-cha Sae Midori today and it tasted much better. Just to show that I should never judge a tea after drinking it only once.
LuckyMe
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Sun May 17, 2020 1:54 pm

vuanguyen wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 11:44 am
Victoria wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:33 pm

In the past I found the Uji Shincha Kirameki asamushi to be on the lighter side, like a delicious sweet pea liquor. I haven’t tried Yukki-Cha yet, did you order this years 2020 Shincha from them? They have a huge Shincha selection, did you order any others as well? How are they shipping from Japan? Reading the ‘info’ page sounds like the owner is quite combative and has had issues with tea community at large. Ouch.

I’ve also had many very good organic sencha, one in particular I enjoyed all last year into this one too, a Kabusecha from Kagoshima Seicha. The issue discussed with organic teas is that just because it’s organic doesn’t guarantee it will taste better. Regarding O-Cha’s Sae Midori, I’m sipping on it right now and find it very good, elegant and sweet with a few savory notes, it’s just more delicate than past years, very good though imo 🍃. How are you steeping yours?
Victoria I have drank almost all of his teas throughout the years. They are all good. I don't remember anything bad. However, these are two teas that I buy every years because they are simply...spectacular:

1) Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori
extremely sweet and very aromatic
less umami than the O-cha Sae Midori but if I want umami, I grab the kabusecha or gyokuro

2) Organic Miyazaki Oolong Tea Kuchinashi
Now who would have thought the Japanese has good oolong tea. This is a very special and unique tea. One of the most intensely aromatic teas I have ever encountered. I would put it up against any of the best oolong teas out there. It's much cheaper only because it's machine harvest.

Yes...from my interaction with him over the years, it is true that the owner is a little eccentric :) For example, he does not publish my "average" reviews of his other teas. However, I think he is just running a business and trying to make a living. The online community can be brutal :(

As for my brewing of Japanese sencha:
6gm per 120 ml ( 1st brew 170F for 60sec; 2nd brew 170 F for 30 sec; 3rd brew 180 F for 90sec; 4th brew 190 F for 2min; 5th brew 212F for 3 min)

I tried the O-cha Sae Midori today and it tasted much better. Just to show that I should never judge a tea after drinking it only once.
I tried the Miyazaki Kuchinashi oolong a while back and thought it tasted like a rough Taiwanese oolong. It had some great aromas but lots of broken leaf, bitterness, and uneven flavor. I think because Japan doesn't specialize in this type of tea, it's not going to be as refined as their Chinese and Taiwanese counterparts. But I like seeing the innovation in Japanese tea production.

I had a suspicion they were censoring reviews because I hardly see any that are below 3 stars. Apparently other vendors like Hibiki-an are doing the same thing. There was a whole discussion about this practice a while back on Steepster: https://steepster.com/discuss/13718-hib ... st-reviews. It feels dishonest but I guess it's so widespread that you can't start boycotting tea shops over it or you won't have any options left. It just means you have to take online reviews with a grain of salt as you would on a site like Amazon that's flooded with fake reviews these days.

Can't speak much about the owner as my interaction with him has been limited. But he's been pretty good about answering questions and shipping has always been prompt. As long as quality and service remains good, I'm content doing business with them.
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Pants404
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Tue May 19, 2020 11:05 pm

After some back and forth with Kevin I have finally received my order in Australia, and with that I believe he has opened up shipping to Australia with FedEx as well
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed May 20, 2020 8:39 am

Received my tea from O-cha yesterday. It was shipped out Sunday night!! Amazing that I can get something from Japan in less than 2 days.

I split 5 bags with 3 friends, so we are struggling with the best way to do this. We dont want to open all 5 bags at once, because they will lose their freshness.

We started with the less expensive tea, the Chiran
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The tea has a lot of broken fragments and dust. It smelled great.

I used 8g in a 140mL Kyusu with 160°F water for 60s infusion.
Honestly, It was not very good. I have very little experience with green tea, so I dont know how it is "supposed" to taste, but this was super thick and almost salty. I will try using less tea and cooler water. Also, I will not preheat my teapot next time.

Maybe the less expensive tea isnt very good. Or it might be that I dont like green tea.
faj
Posts: 291
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Location: Quebec

Wed May 20, 2020 12:03 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:39 am
The tea has a lot of broken fragments and dust. It smelled great. Honestly, It was not very good. I have very little experience with green tea, so I dont know how it is "supposed" to taste, but this was super thick and almost salty. I will try using less tea and cooler water. Also, I will not preheat my teapot next time.
I am currently going through a bag of Chiran schincha from another supplier, and I would say my experience mirrors yours : strong, pleasant aroma of the dry leaves, but the tea is not really great, and specifically not as aromatic as the dry leaves would have one hope for.

I am not a very experienced green tea drinker, but in the last couple of years I have tried a decent number of Japanese and Chinese green teas, and typically have sencha and/or gyokuro on a daily basis. This year is the first time I order schincha, and this schincha is the first I opened. I cannot yet say what schincha is supposed to be like compared to sencha. I do not provide advice, but I can share my experiences in case it is of any use.

If I remember correctly from what I read, the compounds that produce the salty/umami aspect are, overall, more influenced by the duration of the infusion than by the water temperature, compared to aromatic compounds. This might be counter-intuitive, but going for cooler infusions might lead to the balance being tipped more toward the "salty", especially if you make the infusions longer. You might want to try hotter, steeping for a shorter amount of time. However, that might lead to increased bitterness. It is a balancing act.

Summing up my own experience, I do not remember subtle aromas appearing out of nowhere by going from 70C to 65C or 60C, though the actual result can vary quite a bit playing with temperature and time. Usually, I feel if the tea gives me something good to start with, I can play around to achieve a balance I prefer (umami/bitterness/aromas), but if I find nothing that gets my attention using "typical" parameters, I am unlikely to find a recipe that will get me from "so-so" to "great".

I can say I have been frequently disappointed by sencha, more than any other type of tea I think, but I still buy more, so I guess I have had enough success to maintain interest...
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Chip
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Thu May 21, 2020 12:52 am

faj wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:03 pm
Rickpatbrown wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:39 am
The tea has a lot of broken fragments and dust. It smelled great. Honestly, It was not very good. I have very little experience with green tea, so I dont know how it is "supposed" to taste, but this was super thick and almost salty. I will try using less tea and cooler water. Also, I will not preheat my teapot next time.
I am currently going through a bag of Chiran schincha from another supplier, and I would say my experience mirrors yours : strong, pleasant aroma of the dry leaves, but the tea is not really great, and specifically not as aromatic as the dry leaves would have one hope for.

I am not a very experienced green tea drinker, but in the last couple of years I have tried a decent number of Japanese and Chinese green teas, and typically have sencha and/or gyokuro on a daily basis. This year is the first time I order schincha, and this schincha is the first I opened. I cannot yet say what schincha is supposed to be like compared to sencha. I do not provide advice, but I can share my experiences in case it is of any use.

If I remember correctly from what I read, the compounds that produce the salty/umami aspect are, overall, more influenced by the duration of the infusion than by the water temperature, compared to aromatic compounds. This might be counter-intuitive, but going for cooler infusions might lead to the balance being tipped more toward the "salty", especially if you make the infusions longer. You might want to try hotter, steeping for a shorter amount of time. However, that might lead to increased bitterness. It is a balancing act.

Summing up my own experience, I do not remember subtle aromas appearing out of nowhere by going from 70C to 65C or 60C, though the actual result can vary quite a bit playing with temperature and time. Usually, I feel if the tea gives me something good to start with, I can play around to achieve a balance I prefer (umami/bitterness/aromas), but if I find nothing that gets my attention using "typical" parameters, I am unlikely to find a recipe that will get me from "so-so" to "great".

I can say I have been frequently disappointed by sencha, more than any other type of tea I think, but I still buy more, so I guess I have had enough success to maintain interest...
Rickpatbrown, sencha typically has a lot of fragments. The "dust" is really not dust. As you brew, the smallest fragments plump up.
When I purchase a less expensive selection such as O-Cha's shincha Chiran at 17 USD and change, I try to keep things in perspective while hoping for "a diamond in the rough." Last year's Asanoka from O-Cha was a diamond ... I likely ended up ordering 8 bags over several orders. So there are "diamonds."

But generally, when it comes to sencha I figure you get what you pay for and there is a reason a particular vendor's selection is less than the prime time selections.

The O-Cha Chiran ... just opened and tried once yesterday, but it was a few hours after opening the bag. So my expectations were not too high.

I read the bag for brewing suggestions and was surprised to see 1.5-2 minutes brew time ... hmmm.

I went with 1.5. It was not bad, but I think shorter might be better. So I'll try 75 seconds in the morning.

Since I brewed this w/in a few short hours of opening the bag, I'll hold off further comments until next attempt.

Faj, the Chiran refers to origin and little else. So each Chiran will be different. I have another Chiran from Kettl that is Sae Midori and is completely different in every respect to O-cha's Chiran. The Kettl was also 12 USD more.
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Chip
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Thu May 21, 2020 1:15 am

Kettl Mebuki. Sae Midori cultivar. Ok, this has not been what I expected of a Sae Midori.

Each sencha including shincha goes through a brief roasting as part of its final processing. Too little, and a sencha can be lackluster. Just right, and you will not notice it but the roast adds to the selection.

Too much ... this one is roasted too much for my taste. I instantly detected the roast. Not what I am looking for in shincha. The roast effect subsided w/ each passing day ... but I set it aside. I want to try it now that it has rested a few weeks.

Unlike typical Sae Midori, the brew is much more yellowish green versus pea soup green.

Crave factor: 3/10
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Kettl Chiran. Sae Midori cultivar. Ok, after the Mebuki ... misunderstanding, I was relieved when I opened and tried this selection.

Classic Sae Midori. Very easy brewer, brothy, green, umami. Very good.

Crave factor: 8.5/10
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faj
Posts: 291
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Thu May 21, 2020 6:04 am

Chip wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 12:52 am
Faj, the Chiran refers to origin and little else. So each Chiran will be different. I have another Chiran from Kettl that is Sae Midori and is completely different in every respect to O-cha's Chiran. The Kettl was also 12 USD more.
My comments were not intended to be an opinion about Chiran senchas at large, which, even if it made sense to roll them all up in the same category, I would certainly not attempt at this is the first Chiran I tried. It just so happened that there was an overlap between @Rickpatbrown's comments and my impressions.

This being said the tea I was referring to happens to be Kettl's Chiran, which you seemed to like more than I did.
Chip wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:15 am
Very easy brewer, brothy, green, umami. Very good.
Describing that tea as brothy, green and umami is spot on, we probably just happen to have different preferences. Now, I am much less experienced drinker that you are, so I am not yet able to say if a tea, whether I like it or not, fulfills the expectations one might have about it based on its origin, cultivar and price. I cannot tell if a tea is "good", I only can tell how much I appreciate it. It is very interesting for me to see what other, more experienced drinkers think about teas I have also tried.
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Rickpatbrown
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Thu May 21, 2020 6:40 pm

@faj and @Chip

Thanks for your comments. It's good to know that I'm on the right track, even if the train is going in the wrong direction.

I decreased my tea/ water ratio down to 7g/140mL. I did not preheat my teapot, kept water at 160°C and I shortened the first infusion to 30s.

This definitely got me into a more palatable region. I can actually deconstruct the flavor at this level. Not much bitterness going on. Maybe 45 seconds would work too.

I intentionally started with the cheapest of the set. I hope the Uji Kirameki and Kagoshima Sae Midori have pleasant surprises for me 😆
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Tor
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Fri May 22, 2020 12:35 am

Florent just posted an interesting article about Kagoshima tea. I also feel the same way as what he wrote here.


“...They are essentially shaded fukamushi sencha with a rather strong roasting in general. Kagoshima does not highlight an old “tradition” or style, but produces tea according to market demand. So very greenish fukamushi teas with a lot of umami (shaded then), exploiting cultivars going in this tendency: Yutaka-midori, Asatsuyu, Saemidori, etc. Also, the other key to success lies precisely in these early cultivars, taking advantage of its southern geographic location, allowing Kagoshima teas to arrive first on the market during shincha, when the teas could be sold the most expensive on the market.

If there is clearly a great success in maintaining an overall quality with a mass production, the other side of the coin is an undeniable lack of personality and variety which can quickly annoy the hard-core lover of Japanese tea...”


https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress. ... kagoshima/
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Chip
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Fri May 22, 2020 11:04 am

Tor wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:35 am
Florent just posted an interesting article about Kagoshima tea. I also feel the same way as what he wrote here.


“...They are essentially shaded fukamushi sencha with a rather strong roasting in general. Kagoshima does not highlight an old “tradition” or style, but produces tea according to market demand. So very greenish fukamushi teas with a lot of umami (shaded then), exploiting cultivars going in this tendency: Yutaka-midori, Asatsuyu, Saemidori, etc. Also, the other key to success lies precisely in these early cultivars, taking advantage of its southern geographic location, allowing Kagoshima teas to arrive first on the market during shincha, when the teas could be sold the most expensive on the market.

If there is clearly a great success in maintaining an overall quality with a mass production, the other side of the coin is an undeniable lack of personality and variety which can quickly annoy the hard-core lover of Japanese tea...”


https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress. ... kagoshima/
I have long stated, as an observer and student from the West, regarding the 3 largest tea producing regions (although Uji is now 5th) ... oversimplified albeit w/ a healthy dose of stereotyping :mrgreen: :

UJI signifies tradition above all else.

KAGOSHIMA (and Yame follows their lead) has long been about innovation and adaption.

SHIZOUKA produces tea for the masses.

Each follows this direction extremely well and as should be expected in Japan, very efficiently.

Over the years since I observed this, I have noticed more crossover, particularly Shizouka where more innovation can be found today.

Kagoshima does what they do extremely well. Asamushi traditionalists have often scoffed at Kagoshima ...

It all comes down to what I have been saying for 20 years:

Drink what you like, like what you drink!

Being different is what tea drinkers are all about. :mrgreen:
vuanguyen
Posts: 36
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Fri May 22, 2020 10:24 pm

Chip wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:04 am
I have long stated, as an observer and student from the West, regarding the 3 largest tea producing regions (although Uji is now 5th) ... oversimplified albeit w/ a healthy dose of stereotyping :mrgreen: :

UJI signifies tradition above all else.

KAGOSHIMA (and Yame follows their lead) has long been about innovation and adaption.

SHIZOUKA produces tea for the masses.

Each follows this direction extremely well and as should be expected in Japan, very efficiently.

Over the years since I observed this, I have noticed more crossover, particularly Shizouka where more innovation can be found today.

Kagoshima does what they do extremely well. Asamushi traditionalists have often scoffed at Kagoshima ...

It all comes down to what I have been saying for 20 years:

Drink what you like, like what you drink!

Being different is what tea drinkers are all about. :mrgreen:
@Chip
Thank you for your post sir. As a typical Western Japanese tea drinker, there is no way for me to know the facts (stereotype or not) mentioned above. Japanese teas are so complex and it's nice to break it down like this. It's post like this that I really appreciate this forum.
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Tor
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Sat May 23, 2020 12:52 am

@Chip

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have to keep reminding myself that just because I like some tea more than the others doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a better one.
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Tor
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Sat May 23, 2020 2:40 am

Kagoshima Horiguchi Seicha Tea. Please enjoy! :D

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bentz98125
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Sat May 23, 2020 9:33 pm

Tor wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:35 am
Florent just posted an interesting article about Kagoshima tea. I also feel the same way as what he wrote here.


“...They are essentially shaded fukamushi sencha with a rather strong roasting in general. Kagoshima does not highlight an old “tradition” or style, but produces tea according to market demand. So very greenish fukamushi teas with a lot of umami (shaded then), exploiting cultivars going in this tendency: Yutaka-midori, Asatsuyu, Saemidori, etc. Also, the other key to success lies precisely in these early cultivars, taking advantage of its southern geographic location, allowing Kagoshima teas to arrive first on the market during shincha, when the teas could be sold the most expensive on the market.

If there is clearly a great success in maintaining an overall quality with a mass production, the other side of the coin is an undeniable lack of personality and variety which can quickly annoy the hard-core lover of Japanese tea...”


https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress. ... kagoshima/
Thanks for the tip. I fear I might be among the great unwashed masses clamoring for generic umami rich, sweet roasted tea but on the other, am flattered that his point is to promote what he considers to be the hopeful advent of the Asanoka cultivar. Flattered because together with Asatsuyu from Kirishima, it is a staple pillar of my Kagoshima sencha habit. I am eager to try the one he recommends because it is only due to his efforts that I have recently I ventured into unfamiliar territory of Goko, Yabukita, Uji-midori, Uji-hikari, and Yamakai cultivars to my great delight. So many teas so little time!
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