The time has come!! The Shincha arrived today with us! Now it will be packed in no time and then we can start. The items are now open for pre-order - as soon as the dealer orders are through, the pre-orders will then be shipped out one by one. Due to the interruption caused by the holiday, we are currently assuming a shipping start on Monday, May 30 for the store orders.
All Shinchas 2022 at a glance can be found here!
+++++ May 13, 2022 +++++
While our Japanese partners are already busy serving Shincha in their teahouse (see picture gallery), we have to be patient. Due to the heavily restricted air traffic to and from Japan, our Shincha will now arrive in Frankfurt on May 20th with the earliest possible flight.
If everything goes smoothly, the Shincha should arrive shortly before the Ascension weekend so we can start shipped from week 22!
But at least our preliminary samples have arrived now. These are mainly intended for analysis purposes to have the usual tests for microbiology and pesticide contamination - and of course to get an impression of the taste to create the item descriptions. So today and yesterday, KEIKO was already in high spirits with the tasting of the very first cups of Shincha 2022!
With our Tea Tasting Notes notebooks, we sat down together today to taste Shincha Yume, Shincha Yakushima and Shincha Classic very consciously, to exchange ideas and to find descriptions that can comprehensibly capture the wealth of aromas. Because how differently the flavors are perceived and the different interpretation of words is always a challenge. At this point, only so much: we are very satisfied with the quality of the teas and as soon as the descriptions are ready and the delivery date is confirmed, the pre-sale can start!!!!
The Shincha Yume and Shincha Yakushima are again single-varietal, i.e. made from only one cultivar each (Yume Kaori for the Shincha Yume and Yabukita for the Shincha Yakushima).
After extensive tasting and experimenting, our tea tasters have once again created a composition of 3 different cultivars for this year's Shincha Classic. Asanoka from the Komaki tea garden, Yabukita and Yutaka Midori from the KEIKO Biofarm.
These three will also be the cultivars that make up this year’s Aracha Shincha – so you will get an idea what the same tea tastes like in different stages of production. As raw and wild Aracha and as the finished and refined tea.
This week there was very busy with packing (as always under a protective nitrogen atmosphere to avoid oxidation) and organising the paperwork for the export so that the tea can be sent on its way next week.
We'll be in touch as soon as we've secured a seat on a plane - until then, please keep your fingers crossed just a little longer!
The next step: drying or firing. Yesterday it was the turn of the Yume Kaori, then this morning we could witness the Shincha Yume Tasting on site via video call - and had to be satisfied with the description and the memory of the wonderful aroma that characterises this cultivar.
This year, the Yume Kaori was steamed a little less intensively and thus goes in the direction of Chumushi. Due to the lighter steaming, the leaf composition is less finely structured than our usual Fukamushicha and there are fewer extract-particles in the infusion, so that the cup is of a clear, bright green. The aroma and quality have been rated very good by the tasters. In the course of the coming week, the other arachas will also be processed and then packed and made ready for shipment.
We are currently hoping to ship out on May 9th or 10th, but flights between Japan and Germany are currently very limited, so please keep your fingers crossed!
+++++22. April 2022+++++
After a week of harvesting work at full capacity, all the arachas for the KEIKO Shincha 2022 have now arrived at Shimodozono for aracha tasting and subsequent processing.
In the picture gallery you can see a picture of Seigo Komaki standing next to the machine pressing the raw teas. Together with his brother, he grows the Asanoka for our Shincha Classic.
Due to the unusual mix of warm days, cold night temperatures and rain in Kagoshima, it was a special challenge this year to find the right harvest time. As a result, the usual harvest order of the cultivars has shifted considerably this year.
In the gallery, you can see the fresh, small Shincha tips from the Yutaka Midori just before harvesting (orange building in the background).
Fortunately, on the organic farm we have the possibility to dry the leaves before steaming, so at least we are not dependent on dry periods. Originally, this was set up to dry the leaves after the ash was washed off the leaves when the nearby Sakurajima volcano was particularly active again.
After the first tastings (infused Yutaka Midori Aracha leaves in the gallery), it looks like the teas will be a little lighter in colour but more intense in flavour this year due to the weather.
+++++19 April 2022+++++
The harvesting season has officially begun! Last week, harvesting started in Kagoshima, but so far only on a comparatively small scale.
Depending on the cultivar and the conditions in the respective tea gardens, conventionally cultivated fields are usually ready for harvesting 7-10 days before the organically cultivated ones, but now the time has come here as well.
The Fujiwara family (see photos) on Yakushima made the start, harvesting Yabukita for the KEIKO Shincha Yakushima already at the end of last week. In the Fujiwara family, son Masahiro Fujiwara and his wife now take over much of the day-to-day business - but at shincha time, it's all hands on deck and the whole family pitches in.
Overall, the harvest has started quite slowly so far due to the rainy weather last week. At the KEIKO organic farm we have the possibility to dry the leaves before steaming, but this is the case at very few tea gardens. The rainwater on the leaf surface can then cause irregular steaming results and, moreover, the oxidation process is accelerated. Some farmers therefore prefer to postpone harvesting when it rains, which in turn can mean that they miss the ideal time for harvesting.
At the KEIKO Biofarm, the hot phase of the shincha season started over the easter weekend - the next few days will be very busy there: harvesting and processing are in full swing.
Since the growth of the Yume Kaori was a little slow towards the end, the Yutaka Midori was harvested first. The first raw tea tastings were already very promising!
This week, the cultivars Yume Kaori (for Shincha Yume) and Yabukita from the organic farm will follow. The Komaki brothers are also harvesting the cultivar Asanoka this week.
Both Yabukita and Asanoka are expected to be part of the Shincha Classic - we are looking forward to the further Aracha tasting results!
+++++ 5. April 2022+++++
The cherry blossoms are once again marking the start of the shincha season. High time for the 1st Shincha update of the year 2022! The cherry blossom in Kagoshima was a little early again this year. However, as the night temperatures of the last few days were still very low at around 10°C, the buds are still growing slowly, despite daytime temperatures of 23-25°C.
Therefore, it is currently expected that the Shincha harvest can start at the usual harvest time. For KEIKO Biofarm, this means that the early variety Yume Kaori will start around 18 April, followed by Yutaka Midori and Sae Midori.
Compared to last year, this means about 7 days delay. For the Yutaka Midori plants, which are destined for Tencha production, the shading nets were applied today. In the pictures you can see the double layer of netting, which ensures that only a few % of the sunlight reaches the plants ("full shade").
The shading of the tea bushes for the semi-shade leaf tea is planned for next week.