I wanted to start by thanking Nio for the opportunity to try this amazing tea. They are a company that frequently travels to Japan to source the best organic Japanese green tea from small family farms. I have tried nearly all of their teas and they are all fantastic!
This tea is known as a "shincha" which is a type of Sencha or rolled Japanese green tea but it is unique because it is from the first picking of the harvest. This means that the shincha leaves are the youngest and most desirable leaves of the tea plant. This produces a flavor that is truly unique and special. I had never tried a shincha before this one and I was really looking forward to the experience!
These leaves are far stronger in aroma than the other Japanese green teas I have tried in the past. There is a deep vegetal aroma coming from it, as well as a hint of butternut and hazelnut. I have never before smeller tea leaves that had such a strong nuttiness to them. This was really quite amazing, and I was very much looking forward to drinking this tea.
The first sip was very strong with the Shibumi. Shibumi is kind of like a sourness or astringency that comes with green teas, particularly Japanese green teas. This is what creates that mouthwatering feeling on your tongue and whether you love the taste or you hate it, you cannot deny that it is one of the more powerful components in tea. Although there is a lot of astringency to this tea, it is really evened out by it’s nice creamy mouthfeel. When comparing this tea to a Gyokuro, it is much more soft and balanced and I believe this creaminess is the reason why. I’m not saying I don’t prefer Gyokuro, which I do, I’m just saying that for those who are not big fans of the deep umami flavors, this may be a good tea for you.
This shincha kind of represents a middle ground between a normal sencha and a Gyokuro. You get a mixture of the dry grassy flavors of a sencha and the deep umami, almost seaweed flavors of a Gyokuro. If you are a fan of sencha, but not quite fully on board with Gyokuro, this could be a good tea to make that transition.
I would be a little cautious with this tea not to oversteep it. It has the ability to get very bitter if you are not careful. I accidentally steeped some for a little longer and it is quite powerful. I learned this is actually very good if you have a cold, as it extracts all the polyphenols. If you are just trying to enjoy a nice cup of tea, go for the recommended steep time and temperature.
I went ahead and prepared a second steeping of the tea. I normally find that green teas lose a lot of their flavor in the second steeping, but the teas I have tried from Nio have been very impressive. All of the teas that I have tried from them seem to have as much flavor in the second steeping as most green teas have in the first steeping. This tea is no exception. I am noticing a strong sweetness to it that I rarely find in green teas. It has a very well-balanced finish and subtle bitterness. It is a nice, full-bodied tea that still has some subtleties to it. It is really enjoyable, and you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was a second steeping if someone gave it to you to drink.
Recently, I have taken the second steeping into much deeper consideration because not only is it the mark of a high quality tea, it also creates a very good value proposition for the tea. If the second steeping is strong, you basically get twice the amount of tea for the same price. This is why it might make sense to spend I tiny bit more money on a premium green tea, rather than a cheaper one that will lose what little flavor it had after a single steeping.
This tea is incredible and it is one I have never tried before. If you have t had a Shincha before, and I’m guessing that is most of you, I would recommend this one. It is smooth, pleasant and not all that unfamiliar. If you like normal senchas, you should be able to enjoy this.
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