UPDATE to Original Post
JUNE 11th….Conflicting reports about possible radiation levels ( or not ) in the 2011 Shincha crop from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan continue to appear in American and Japanese news reports. Each new report contradicts the last (all reporting is in credible media) so the truth is clouded. An American food-professional colleague living in Tokyo ( who makes her living writing about Japanese food and teaching cooking classes ) has strongly suggested ( read i-n-s-i-s-t-e-d) based on information that she has that we halt the sale of this tea until more can be determined about the safety of tea from this area.
So we are. Apologies to all for this action, but without 100% faith in the soundness of what we are selling, we feel this is the right thing to do. Other than the 2011 Shincha ( which is now pulled from sale ), all of our Japanese green tea is from the 2010 (pre-earthquake and tsunami ) harvest. It is still delicious and drinking quite nicely. We will not receive any additional 2011 Japanese green tea until more clarity is shed on this issue of contamination in Japanese agricultural products. Indeed, this is a heartbreaking situation for Japanese farmers of all manner of agricultural goods.
Each spring the first plucking of new, seasonal Japanese tea – Shincha – begins between the end of April or the beginning of May. The timing of this plucking for ‘first pluck’ tea is calculated according to the traditional Japanese calendar, which places the time on the 88th Night following the first day of spring. This period is also known as Hachijuhachiya, meaning the time that plants begin to sprout.
Only a very small amount of Shincha is plucked each spring as there are only a few days that tea leaves are this tiny and new. Tea workers race to beat the clock and harvest the tea leaves before they grow too large to be called Shincha. ( After the Shincha harvest, various pluckings of Sencha begins, and so on throughout the season).
Shincha is exquisite in flavor and aroma because it is made with the first tea leaves to sprout on the tea bushes after winter hibernation. During the winter rest, the tea bushes absorb and store nutrients gathered from the soil during this time. Thus, the first leaves to ‘sprout’ on the tea bushes in the spring contain a large amount of these nutrients and antioxidants, the energies of the season, and, best of all, fresh, bracing flavor.
Our Shincha Kunpu is truly a special tea. The leaves are shiny, thin and delicate, and the taste can best be described as exceedingly lively, herbaceous , earthy and sweet. It displays all the vitality of the new season in its taste, which is an invigorating expression of seasonality. The heady aroma of Shincha recalls the fresh, green aromas that greets one in the tea gardens and tea factories in Japan in the spring.
This highly sought-after tea is best drunk now, when it is young and full of the moment. It is not a tea for keeping, or saving for special occasions ‘later’.
To order our 2011 Shincha, please click here: http://www.teatrekker.com/shop/shincha-kunpu/