Since last week, the 2016 shincha from Mariko (Shizuoka) is available on Thés du Japon. This sencha is made 2/3 of early “inzatsu” type cultivar Kondô-Wase, and a few of other early cultivar, Ôiwase. This manual harvest started April 8, on Mr. Matsukawa’s plantations. This is the very first 2016 Shizuoka shincha. Indeed, two years ago that the producers of super-early cultivar Sugiyama yaeho (also in Mariko) retired, Kondô-wase is the earlier. Manual harvesting allows taking leaves still very young, so making this tea even earlier.
Here pics from the first day of harvest April 8, 2016:
This sencha is therefore a quintessential seasonal product, with very low roasting, very green flavors, a typical idea of shincha, new tea.
Early harvest and fresh green taste are not the only qualities of this tea. Kondô-wase is an “inzatsu” type cultivar, ie having Indian origins. This is (probably) a cross between Shizu-inzatsu 131 and Yabukita, as Sôfû or Fuji-kaori. Floral aromas slightly creamy, a bit grassy too, are the characteristic of this rare cultivar.
Late in the night of 8, the first kilos of aracha
The point when brewing is to enhance these typical aromas. A first one minute infusion at 80 ° C, followed by shorter and warmer infusions is the simple solution, giving a good balance between fresh and green aromas, and typical “inzatsu” floral aromas.
A more difficult solution, would be to start with a warm infusion to + 90 ° C, short, 20-30s then a 2nd longer infusion, a little less hot. The aim is to concentrate the flavors on the second infusion, the first being almost act as a “washing”. This does not work every time, but for the freak of experimentation, there is matter to have fun with this sencha.
In general, it is a refreshing tea soup, tonic in the mouth. Not bitter or tannic, this liqueur is a bit astringent, this astringency that accompanies the freshest flavors, vegetable, but not too grassy. Sweetness, slightly umami, then appear in the mouth with delight, lasting very long.
Also in aftertaste, in the throat, appear the most typical “inzatsu” aromas light and tender floral scents, nothing aggressive like some other “inzatsu”. There are both humid tropical sensations, and sensation evoking silky petals.
In fact, these Kondô-wase cultivar aromas remains light, one does not find the aromatic “shock” of the Kondô-wase two year ago. This can be a default for someones, but also quality for (all) those who do not like too strong the flavors of “inzatsu” culitvar. This sencha is generally better than the 2015 version and the “exotic” impressions of Kondô wase melt themselves perfectly in the fresh and green, spring flavors of shincha, perfect seasonal product!