Shin-Ryoku is a Shincha or “new tea”/“first flush”, essentially the first harvest of sencha in Japan. If I remember correctly, its traditional to only consume Shincha within the first couple months of harvest, regardless of vacuum-sealed packaging and freezing. But, hey, it was a free sample, so I have no real grounds to complain.
Anyhow, this tea is VERY temperature sensitive.
Den is kind enough to personalize each tea’s brewing instructions, on his website. Which calls for 1.5 teaspoons 4oz of water at 160f/71c for 60 seconds.
My first attempt, ended up with 1.5 teaspoons around 170f/76c for 60 seconds, 5 oz of water. It was too bitter for me.
I tried again with 4oz of water at 160f, maybe even high 150f’s by the time I put the leafs in, for 60 seconds. It came out a watery-pale yellow, compared to the more common gold-yellow seen in sencha, that I was worried I under-steeped it, perhaps I did, but I found it to be a smooth with natural sweet notes.
The suggestions for re-steeping on Den’s is not personalized. The FAQ area has some generic suggestions, and not specific to this tea, which recommended 15 seconds for Sencha’s. However this may not apply to Shin-Cha, due to quantity of leaf (for such small quantities of water, its common for most sencha to be only 1 teaspoon, not 1.5 like shincha).
Second steep, I “tried” 170f for 25seconds, and it had the taste I’m more familiar with in sencha, but I found the bitterness to sneaking in. I think the bitterness never left me, following subsequent steep attempts, always sitting on my palate. Re-steep at 185f for 3rd time, 60 seconds, the bitterness started to come in much stronger. By the fourth, 5mins boiling, and fifth 10mins boiling, it was more akin water, despite a strong colour persisting.
From my experience, this tea walks a very thin line between sweetness and astringency, that is ultimately decided on by the water temperature, sure this is common with all japanese tea’s, but in this case, the temps were almost gyokuro levels for me. If I had more of it, I would like to experiment with it further. I’m ultimately curious what would happen if I had kept the water temp low for the second steep. Or just as high, as my “guess”, but with only 15 seconds. Freshly harvested Shincha/Shin-ryoku may also affect the taste, but we’re going to have to wait another 3 months for that.