Shincha Tea – The First Class of Japanese Tea

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The word “Shincha” might seem like a misspelling of “Sencha” at first glance, and that’s understandable. After all, the spelling for both teas is similar, and even the pronunciation is close. Most tea drinkers know what sencha is, so what is shincha?

Shincha is the term used to describe the tea made from the very first harvest of spring. Translated as “new tea” from Japanese, only tea made from the first picking get this designation. Shincha can be any type of Japanese tea as long as it’s from the first harvest.

Remember that “shincha” doesn’t refer to any specific tea. If you want to know what makes this tea a sought-after beverage, then keep reading.

Where did it come from?

Shincha tea comes from Japan, as the word itself means “new tea” in Japanese. The type of tea harvested doesn’t matter; as long as it’s the first picking of the year, the tea gets the “shincha” designation. It can even be a bag of stems, called “kukicha”, and it will still get designated as shincha if it’s from the first harvest.

Hojicha, or roasted green tea, is the only type of tea that won’t get called shincha. That’s because hojicha is made by roasting old or stale green tea leaves. Roasting shincha is impractical as the leaves are too new and valuable to use for this purpose.

Shincha is also sometimes called “ichibancha,” which means first tea. They both mean the same thing when used in tea, so don’t get confused if you see one or the other while shopping.

What does it taste like? How to improve the taste?

Regardless of whether you have a shincha gyokuro or shincha bancha, most tea drinkers describe shincha as sweeter and more flavorful. That’s because the plant was able to store all of its nutrients all winter long, so the first buds get the most nutrients during spring.

Shincha is also more susceptible to scalding, so it will quickly turn bitter if brewed for too long or with water that’s too hot. If this happens, try adding some honey to counteract the bitterness. You can also try diluting it with a bit more water and see if it makes the flavor a bit more mellow.

How to brew it?

Brewing shincha requires a gentler approach compared to other teas. You must use water that’s heated only up to 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit; any hotter and your tea will become bitter. Though if you want a milder flavor or if you want to enjoy the sweetness more, you can go down as low as 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t go any lower or you won’t be able to extract any flavor.

While your water is heating, measure 5-6 grams of shincha for every 12 ounces of water. You can use more or fewer leaves depending on how mild or strong you want your tea.

Once the water is ready, don’t pour water directly onto the leaves. Instead, give your mug or teapot an initial pour of hot water, swish it around for ten seconds, and then discard. This warms up the container so you won’t lose any of the water’s heat.

Now that you’ve warmed your vessel, it’s time to fill it with water. Then, submerge the tea leaves and let them steep for 90 seconds. Once the time is up, pour the brew onto your favorite mug and enjoy.

How much caffeine does it contain?

A typical Japanese green tea has about 30 milligrams of caffeine, but shincha has even lower caffeine content. That’s because the leaves are too young to develop fully, so their caffeine content is lower than usual. If you’re more resistant to caffeine, you probably won’t get any buzz from shincha; however, if you’re more sensitive, you might still feel something.

How many carbs does it contain?

Shincha should have no carbohydrates by default, as it’s just an infusion of leaves in hot water. You should only worry about carbs in shincha if you’ve added anything to enhance or improve the flavor. If your diet requires you to limit your carbs, then shincha shouldn’t pose any problems for you.

How many calories does it contain?

Just like carbs, shincha doesn’t contain any calories on its own. Drinking the brew without anything added won’t cost you any calories, so feel free to drink as much as you want. Make sure you don’t add anything, such as sugar or honey, or the calories will start adding up.

How long does it last?

Shincha should store well for up to a year before it loses its freshness. Though there’s nothing wrong with brewing shincha tea that’s over a year old, it won’t have the same crisp flavor from when it was fresh. You can probably buy yourself a bit more time with its freshness if you manage to vacuum-seal the leaves.

Once the packaging is opened, make sure you finish everything within three months. Always keep it away from direct light and ensure the container is airtight.


Shincha tea is a special kind of tea that is only available once a year. Tea lovers worldwide savor the opportunity to drink a cup of this tea, considering its remarkable quality and flavor compared to later pickings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re having shincha gyokuro or shincha sencha, as they’re all guaranteed to be a unique experience.

If you get a chance to try a cup of shincha tea, make sure you do so. There’s only a short time for this tea to be available at peak freshness, so don’t miss out.