Shin Cha is a celebration of spring in the world of Japanese green tea. Shin Cha, which means "new tea" is the first and best tea to be harvested from the Sen Cha tea plants in mid April in Shizouka-Prefecture. During the winter the tea plant stores nutrients such as amino acids and antioxidants in preparation for spring. The newest leaves, the shin cha, have the highest concentration of these nutrients when compared to leaves that are harvested even a little later in the season, giving them a sweeter taste and a lower level of astringency. They also spend less time in cold storage than other teas, which gives them a fresher, more intensified aroma and distinctive grassy character associated with Japanese green teas. The Shin Cha season is very short
All of Tea Maestro Sugimoto's teas are mountain grown and plucked entirely by hand due to the steep terrain. Japanese green tea is harvested up to five times between spring and autumn but this first harvest is considered to be the best. This is the tea that the Japanese anxiously await each spring.
Japan produces approximately 90,000 tons of green tea each year, but only exports about 1-2 percent of its total production. Recently Japan has also become a leading importer of the finest teas in the world. Over half of the yearly production of Japanese tea comes from Shizuoka-prefecture. The production of green tea entails the steaming of the green leaf and hand or machine rubbing. The teas are then pan-fired or basket fired which gives them a distinctive appearance and glossy look and feel. These methods give a taste that is light in color but rich and full in the cup.
Variations in the steaming process produce different flavor profiles of Sen Cha Japanese Green Tea. Chumushi means "medium steaming" (about one minute) which results in a tea with a bold taste and sweet aftertaste with remarkable green fragrance. This is the tea attracting the Japanese for over three centuries. Fukamushi is a more deeply steamed tea (up to 3 minutes) which produces a fresh vegetal green aroma with a smooth body, savory "umami" flavor and semi-brisk finish. The flavor profile of this tea has appealed to American tea drinkers for over 100 years. Asamushi means "shallow steaming," approximately 30 seconds. The short steaming results in a larger dried leaf and makes for a light flavor in the cup. The longer steaming produces leaves that are more broken up and makes for a tea with more body.
Sen cha, the most popular tea consumed in Japan, is known for its bountiful antioxidants, greenish-golden infusion and delicious taste. Sen cha is commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies marking events of personal importance. In this type of ceremony it is the ritual that is of paramount importance as the individual is being acknowledged. For ceremonies marking 'life altering events', matcha is used.