Ice brewing Japanese shincha
Let’s kick off National Iced Tea Month (#nationalicedteamonth) with some Japanese-style ice brewing! Did you know that approximately 80% of tea consumed in America is iced (*)? Iced tea as we know it in the US (sweetened iced black tea) has a traditional counterpart in Japan, where ice brewing (kooridashi / shinobi-cha in Japanese) is one of the best methods to enjoy gyokuro, the finest and most delicate Japanese green tea.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Miki surprised me with some shincha her mom, a tea conoisseur, had just brought directly from Japan. Such a treat! Shincha is the new tea, the first flush of 2017, similar to what would be called “nouveau” in the wine world, as Miki pointed out.
How does Japanese-style ice brewing work? I added my tea leaves to a tea cup, placed one very large cocktail-style ice cube directly on the leaves and then waited for the ice cube to slowly melt at room temperature. The only extra item you need is a strainer. You can definitely play around with the-tea-leaves-to-ice ratio and experiment with different brewing vessels. Traditionally, a Japanese clay kyusu teapot is used (uncovered) because it has a built-in strainer (so you don’t need an extra one) and clay helps the tea develop its flavor. A word of warning. I would avoid placing your brewing vessel in direct sunlight.
Tea Name: shincha
Origin: Shizuoka prefecture, Japan
Ingredients: green tea
Harvest: 2017 first flush
Steep Time: approx. 3 hours (at room temperature, 73 F / 22-23 C) but it may vary
Preparation Method: ice brewing
Leaves/Water Ratio: 1 teaspoon (3-4 gr) tea leaves to ½ cup (100 ml) water (1 large cocktail-style ice cube)
dry leaves: dark forest green with emerald hues, thin medium needles (¾ inch / 2 cm long) mixed with smaller leaves and flakes
wet leaves: bright green
liquor: bright green with yellow undertones
dry leaves: sweet, buttery, grassy, slightly floral
wet leaves: savory, vegetal, grassy notes
liquor: savory, vegetal, grassy notes
liquor: deeply savory, pronounced umami taste, grassy, vegetal notes of pine needles, almost piquant, prickly on the tip of the tongue, the slightest hint of astringency at the back of the mouth, with a persistent mouthwatering effect
MOUTHFEEL: syrupy, viscous
FOOD PAIRING: better enjoyed on its own, but if you wanted to have food with it, I would go for a delicate fish crudo or sashimi
OVERALL IMPRESSION: a precious, pure distilled essence of spring. Such a treat!
(*) Tea Fact Sheet – 2016-17 by Tea Association of the USA Inc.
A very special thank you to my friend Miki for sharing such a beautiful tea with me!