+++++ May 13th 2021 +++++
The second Shincha delivery is on its way!
All 4 varieties can be (pre-)ordered now and are expected to be shipped on 28 May!
In the meantime, we have extensively tasted the Shincha Classic - an impressive example of how the harvest year and the cultivar influence the aroma!
The Yutaka Midori cultivar gives the tea a particularly full-bodied, spicy umami note. In addition, the tea has a particularly high extract content due to even more intensive steaming, and thus develops an exceptionally deep green cup colour and a strong aroma. As the steaming also makes the leaf structure finer, it is easy to underestimate the leaf volume when dosing. We therefore recommend dosing a little more cautiously than usual or reducing the brewing time slightly. Alternatively, water can simply be added to the finished tea if the tea should turn out too strong for you.
The Mizudashi cold brew is also highly recommended: clear, silky-smooth and with fine, sweet theanine notes - definitely a must-try!
+++++ May 4th 2021 +++++
Earlier than ever: THE SHINCHA CLASSIC 2021 IS HERE! We didn't miss the chance to let work be work for a short while and first had a little tea break - with a cup of bright spring green for everyone (especially welcome in the current gloomy weather)!
Afterwards, the actual incoming goods inspection took place. As with every delivery, the new batch is analysed and tasted in comparison to the previous batch. This is particularly exciting with seasonal teas, as the differences are greater here than with regular teas, where traditionally the cultivars and batches are blended in such a way that the aroma and quality remain as constant as possible. Thus, a KEIKO Soshun always tastes like a KEIKO Soshun, while a Shincha has new facets to offer every year.
In direct comparison, it is noticeable that the Shincha 2021 (on the left in the picture) has finer leaves - a sign of particularly intensive steaming. This results in a particularly intense aroma and a beautiful, bright green cup colour. The Shincha from 2020 was a little more elegant, but also less intense in flavour. If you prefer this light aroma, you can simply infue the 2021 Shincha with a little less leaves or a bit shorter for a lighter aroma - try it out!
In the meantime, we are already busy packing and stocking the warehouses so that the pre-orders can be shipped quickly! By the way, if anyone is wondering what the characters on the stickers decorating the pouches mean - these are the Japanese characters for Shincha: 新 (Shin = new) 茶 (Cha = tea).
These characters can also be found on the outside of the box ( the calligraphies on the new KEIKO boxes were all done by hand by our Japanese graphic artist).
+++++ April 27th +++++
It's time! The Shincha Classic 2021 is already in the air and if the customs plays along, it will be available from May 5th - pre-order now!
So, why so quickly now?! This year's Shincha Classic consists of 100% Yutaka Midori - a cultivar that has particularly convinced our tea tasters in Japan this year with its intense color and full aroma. Therefore, it was decided that this tea in itself offers such a well-rounded taste experience that no addition of other cultivars is necessary. And since this cultivar is one of the first to be harvested in the spring, the Shincha Classic could be produced ready and already shipped as early as never before!
+++++ April 22nd 2021 +++++
The Fujiwaras on Yakushima have also brought in their harvest and delivered it to Shimodozono for tasting and further processing! Cultivated here are among others Yutaka Midori, Asanoka and Yabukita - we are excited to see (and taste!) what our partners at Shimodozono will conjure up this year and which varieties will be used in the Shincha Yakushima 2021!
In the Fujiwaras' small family business on the UNESCO World Heritage island of Yakushima, the teas are only lightly to moderately steamed (Asamushi or Chumushi) - an exciting contrast to the Fukamushi teas that make up the bulk of the KEIKO range.
+++++ April 19th 2021 +++++
Harvesting is in full swing, and after Yutaka Midori, the Yume Kaori and Sae Midori clutivars have also been harvested. Apart from the Yume Kaori being used for the Shincha Yume these are expected to be used in Tenbu Fuka and Soshun this year. The first picture shows the shade nets being removed from the Yume Kaori. In the second one you can see all the different stages of the tea leaves - from plant to Aracha.
During the Aracha tasting, the leaf texture, aroma and taste of each cultivar and batch are carefully examined to decide on the further processing and blending stages. The raw tea is infused particularly vigorously and hot to enhance the strengths and weaknesses of the tea. The tasters usually don't actually drink the tea during the tasting but spit it out again - much like in wine-tastings. This is to avoid an overload of aromas as well as stomach troubles. For the untrained palate, however, even with this technique, the differences can hardly be discerned after even just a few varieties due to the abundance of aromas.
After the initial processing into Aracha and the Aracha tasting, the Yutaka Midori has reached Date-San (in the picture), who is responsible for the drying and further processing. This requires a lot of experience and intuition to find the right temperature, since each degree can cause a significant difference in the aroma. In between, therefore, tasting is carried out again and again in order to achieve the best possible taste experience.
+++++ April 13th 2021 +++++
This weekend was the start of the harvest at KEIKO Biofarm! It kicked off with the harvest of our signature cultivar Yutaka Midori.
On the 2nd picture you can see the harvesting machine at work. As soon as the "cage" is full, the freshly harvested tea is brought to steaming - this happens in the processing building right next to the field.
The short distance from harvest to steaming prevents fermentation from setting in during storage or delivery procedures. If fermentation is allowed to occur, the result is an oolong or black tea, depending on the length of fermentation. By the way, the majority of KEIKO teas are intensively steamed Fukamushi teas (Fig. 3: freshly steamed tea leaves).
Still on site on the organic farm, the tea leaves are processed to Aracha raw tea (Figure 4), here you can already see that both the particularly large leaf parts as well as the finer particles are still contained.
Afterwards, the Aracha is tasted by the tea tasters and, if necessary, blended before further processing into the finished tea takes place.
The first Aracha infusion of the cultivar Yutaka Midori (picture 5&6) already lives up to its name: "rich green".
+++++ March 30th 2021 +++++
Yutaka Midori, is the cultivar with the earliest picking time at our KEIKO BioFarm. The plants are now growing so fast that we expect to start harvesting already around April 9, which is more than a week earlier than usual!
The buds of the later cultivars are also already starting to swell. It is therefore possible that a large part of the farm will still have to be harvested in April - quite a feat to accomplish in such a short time!
It is already becoming apparent that 2021 will be a very special harvest year, the likes of which we have never experienced before. We are a bit excited but our team is motivated and preparing for a good production!
+++++ March 19th 2021 +++++
Spring has arrived in Kagoshima and we can share the 1st shincha update of 2021 with you!
Since the beginning of March, the weather in Kagoshima has been very warm and the average daytime temperature is about 20 degrees.
In the picture you can see the growth status of the cultivar Yutaka Midori.
The plants have started budding 5 days earlier than last year and the KEIKO BioFarm team expects that this year the harvest can start in mid-April, which is on average about 5-7 days earlier than usual. More updates to come!