First time having hashiri shincha — first impressions…
I noticed the loose leaf was a nice, dark green color, of mostly whole (rolled up) leaves. Little or no leaf particles. Once steeped, the leaves opened up fully and you could see many veins or stems (I don’t know if I can tell the difference between the two, but I’m pretty sure it was mostly the veins between the leaf and not stems (kuki)).
I steeped it three times for my wife and I, and experimented a little on the 2nd two steepings.
The first steeping I did according to instructions (3 oz water per cup for 1.5tsp leaf). It tasted SO fresh, brisk/astringent, with just a tad bitterness (not too much at all in my opinion, just on the edge). The main flavor was freshness though. I read on his website that they try to process it as little as possible to maintain its fresh flavor, but I had no idea how that would actually translate into the tea…yes, one wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it tastes like spring! (Yes, that is a very ‘artsy’ phrase that I don’t very much like, but it isn’t an overstatement). The description says this has a very young flavor, as if you were picking the tea and steeping it right in the field — though I am no tea expert, I don’t think it could be described any better! The flavor surprised me in that way, even though I was expecting a ‘fresh’ flavor.
The 2nd steeping, I wanted to have a little more sweet flavor, a little more full/umami flavor, so instead of increasing the temperature, I left it at 160, and left it to steep for 1.5 mins instead of just the suggested 30 seconds. It didn’t have as much fresh flavor/astringency, and had a hint of sweetness that was very nice.
The third steeping was good too (I think boiling for 15-30 seconds), but the flavor wasn’t particularly strong.
I look forward to trying this out more and experimenting with the brewing. But for a first try, I liked it a lot and am not disappointed. If I can extract more umami/sweetness from it, then I will be impressed by it’s range of flavor.