[Full Disclosure: this tea was provided as a free sample by the vendor. While I normally purchase my own tea and have no intention of turning this blog into a free-sample-fueled positive review machine, I did manage to acquire this tea after badgering the vendor for reviewing their own tea highly on Steepster. In this case, I think my intentions are sound.]
I must admit, this is my first shin-cha. Gyokuro and sen-cha I have sampled before, but never the first flush of the season. And how typical of me that my first taste of an inherently seasonal tea comes from a year with such remarkable variation in quality.
This tea did require that I hone my Japanese tea brewing skills. I brewed twice this morning.
At first, I used perhaps too much leaf (~5 g in 3oz of water), while following the vendor’s instructions for temperature (195F) and steeping time (45s). The resulting brew was thick, but bitter. The complexity and texture were there, but the bitterness was out of balance. The second steep from the first session, however, yielded a very silky, sweet liquid that was just my style.
For the second session, I pulled back on the leaf to about 3g, cooled down the water and knocked 10s off the initial steep. This produced a much lighter brew, but had almost no perceptible bitterness.
In terms of flavor, this tea was clean and delicious, if a bit one-dimensional. It had friendly vegetal greenness, a faint bit of brine, and some distant tangerine leaves. The viscosity of the brew was enjoyable, with a long, lingering thick sweetness, dappled with near-savory umami. I did think, though, that the proportion of dust was rather high and may have contributed to my initial bitter brew.
What this tea did remarkably well was load me up with a massive theanine glow. It was nearly immediate, strong, and beautiful. A sensation of heaviness came over me, and I just sat on the patio, smiled, and watched the Sunday morning open with high clouds, a gentle breeze through the garden, and the cheerful song of goldfinches dancing across the yard.
Images and Full Post at tea.theskua.com