I have negligible experience with Japanese green tea, but after reading about the hype surrounding shincha for three years running, I decided to give it a try. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I bought Yunomi’s five-shincha sampler, plus a Bankoyaki mini kyusu for brewing, figuring that even if I’m not a shincha fan, it would come in handy for gyokuro.

This shincha gives off a grassy and marine aroma, without any other notes that I can pick up. The leaves range from long to fragmented and there’s some powder in the bag. I followed Yunomi’s instructions and steeped about three grams of tea at 158F for one minute, followed by three subsequent one-minute steeps at 176F.

Even at 158F, the astringency is quite noticeable, though not overpowering. Spinach, asparagus, and umami are also present and the tea is brothy and smooth. I’m glad I bought the smallest kyusu available because I suspect I wouldn’t want to drink such a strong tea in quantity.

Increasing the temperature made the tea taste like all the vegetables I assiduously avoided as a kid—kale, Brussels sprouts, and spinach again. The astringency and umami have gotten even more pronounced. This tea tastes healthy, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The third steep has a bit less of a kick, but the same basic flavours. The fourth reverts to marine and grassy notes, though they’re much less distinct. This tea also seems to have a large amount of caffeine.

This shincha was a lot “greener” and more assertive than its Chinese counterparts. I might try it at a lower temperature to see if I can coax out some sweetness. It would also be much better as a morning pick-me-up than as an afternoon tea.

Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Freshly Cut Grass, Kale, Lettuce, Marine, Umami, Vegetal

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).



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